Menu Join now Search
Menu

13 Acne Causes and...

13 Acne Causes and Solutions

There's nothing more frustrating than an unexpected acne breakout. Learn about 13 common adult acne causes and what you can do to keep your skin healthy and happy.

I can think of few things more infuriating than a sudden, unexpected, who-invited-you adult acne breakout. Sure, I can teach you how to be a master with makeup and hide nearly any blemish but I'd rather you spend that time perfecting your smoky eye! So let us narrow down the causes of those pesky breakouts once and for all.

Dirty Pillowcases
Cause: Dead skin cells, leftover makeup, and oils from your hair can easily collect here. If you sleep on your stomach, with one cheek pressed to your pillow, this can be especially culprit.
Fix: Buy extra cotton pillow cases and switch out once a week.

Dirty Phones
Cause: We touch them all days with our dirty fingers and then press directly to our faces.
Fix: Use an alcohol-soaked cotton round to clean weekly and while you're at it, swipe across your computer mouse too.

Dirty Makeup Brushes
Cause: Brushes hold onto oils from your skin, dead skin cells, and excess product, thus bacteria. The longer you wait to wash, the more layers of junk build up and create an even nicer breeding ground for germs.
Fix: Wash with a gentle cleanser at least once every two weeks. Lay flat to dry. Use a brush cleaner like Sephora Daily Brush Cleaner spray between cleanings. Here is my brush cleaning tutorial if you need some guidance.

Hormonal Changes
Cause: Ahh, being a woman. So many joys exclusive only to us! Birth control changes, that lovely time of the month, and the joys of pregnancy can all cause your skin to do some crazy things.
Fix: When you can pinpoint that hormonal events that trigger breakouts, you can beat them to it with a clarifying mask like Origins Clear Improvement and preventative treatments like Murad Exfoliating Acne Tretment Gel in the week prior to your period.

Mineral Oil in Products
Cause: Mineral oil is a known pore-clogger but believe it or not, it's still lurking in many products, especially cheaper ones.
Fix: Read the ingredients carefully and pretty much steer clear of anything with mineral oil. Natural oils like jojoba, olive, sunflower, coconut, and argan oil are safe. Anything listed non-comedegenic is usually mineral oil-free.

Not Enough Moisture
Cause: When your skin is dry, either from weather or strong anti-acne products, it can sometimes put your oil glands into overdrive!
Fix: Oil! Yes, oil. Your skin "knows" oil because it is similar to it's own sebum. Therefore, it readily accepts and absorbs it. Oils like Josie Maran Argan Oil are actually anti-inflammatory-perfect for breakouts!

Excessive Exfoliating
Cause: Exfoliating too roughly or too often can irritate and inflame the skin.
Fix: I find my skin looks best when I only use my Clarisonic once a day, rather than twice. I've heard the same from multiple people. I also use a peel once a week at most and don't use harsh scrubs unless my skin is very oily.

Touching Your Face
Cause: If you are constantly touching or picking at your skin, even resting your chin in your hands, you can be transferring bacteria left and right.
Fix: Make it a conscious effort to not touch! Appoint someone to kindly remind you or even set little reminders on your phone!

Red Dye #40
Cause: This ingredient is a known comedogen and often found in many blushes and bronzers. Many, myself included, find that it clogs pores.
Fix: Seek out blushes and bronzers that do not contain this. No need to give up being bronze! I have found Benefit Hoola and TheBalm Bahama Mama to be safe bets. Look for the words Red 40, C.I. 75470, or E120 in the ingredients list.

Mica
Cause: Another common ingredient in blushes, bronzers and eye shadows with any sort of shimmer is mica. While it is a mineral, it may irritate some.
Fix: Just be an ingredient list sleuth and keep an eye out. Mica will be noted as such--no code names.

Germy Products
Cause: When you're using dirty brushes on powder products, you are constantly transferring oils and bacteria from these brushes onto your products. You may even see a hardened surface form due to the oils.
Fix: Once you get your brush washing routine down, you'll be ahead of the game. For your products with a hardened surface, use a disposable makeup wand to scrape across the surface and remove the contaminated layer. Voila!

Expired Products
Cause: Products have a shelf life and it varies depending on the type. Liquids like foundation and moisturizer can separate and creams can harden.
Fix: Check the packaging for either a date or the little jar symbol that will indicate how many months after opening you have. Keep a sharpie on hand to write the date on the bottom if you want to be sure.

Not Showering After Working Out
Cause: Waiting longer than you should after a sweat sesh to hit the showers. Sweat and oil can clog pores that are more open after perspiring, especially on other parts of your body like the back and chest.
Fix: Jump in the shower as soon after working out as you can and make it productive with a body wash like Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash in Pink Grapefruit.

For more skin care tips from Ivy, go to Wake Up for Makeup.

Ivy Boyd

I have a Bachelor's degree in Graphic Design, but it's creating works of art on faces that I love most. By day, I am a Senior Education Consultant for Sephora as well as a freelance makeup artist. The rest of the time, I'm creating content for my makeup and beauty blog, Wake Up for Makeup, reading product reviews, watching tutorial videos and reading makeup artist books. I live and breathe this stuff and if you could eat makeup, I'd probably do that too. I also love painting abstracts, running, attending music festivals and acting weird with my husband and our two awesome cats. I'm here to tell you what products are legit, how to better use the ones you have, give you ideas to shake up your routine and guide you through some fun tutorials I know you can dominate.

More You'll Love

Close