But first, a random zit fact: did you know that acne-prone people are born with about four to five times more skin cells than the average person?! Crazy, right? Click here if you want to see some more acne trivia.
Sneaky Acne Cause No. 1: Pressure (literally)
Dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban says there is — get this — pressure-induced acne. So if you’re constantly talking on your cell phone, playing violin, resting your hand on your chin, you’re giving your skin a double whammy. One, most of those surfaces are covered in bacteria and two, the actual pressure of those things on your face can cause acne. Click here to see how you can fix the problem.
Sneaky Acne Cause No. 2: Pressure (figuratively)
You already know that stress can get your heart racing and your stomach churning, but did you know that it also increases hormones that can cause breakouts? While you can’t realistically knock all the stress out of your life (ha, wouldn’t that be nice?), you can try to relax and minimize the drama. Say it with me now, ohmmmmm …
Sneaky Acne Cause No. 3: Your Pillowcase or Towel
This is a multi-dimensional problem. One, your face lies on your pillowcase for hours at a time, and if it’s not clean you’re basically pressing a bunch of dead skin and bacteria onto your skin (lovely). Same deal with your towel — your skin might be fresh from the shower, but if the towel isn’t clean you’re just wiping germs onto your face.
Annet King, director of The International Dermal Institute, suggests changing your pillowcase once or twice a week and using a fresh towel daily. However, that’s only one part of the problem. If you use fabric softeners and dryer sheets they could also be causing breakouts. Turns out, the stuff that makes your clothes soft is tallow, which is — wait for it — animal fat. Ew. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that on my face. Plus, detergents and fabric softeners with lots of fragrance can cause irritation as well.
Sneaky Acne Cause No. 4: Over-Drying Your Skin
Sure, it makes sense at first glance: if you dry out oily skin with harsh cleansers, alcohol-based toners and skip the moisturizer, your skin won’t be oily anymore. But … it doesn’t really work like that.
Instead, drying out your skin this way will cause it to up its oil production, making the whole situation worse. King explains that the skin tries to correct itself and so if it feels dry it will begin to produce more oil to balance things out. See what you can do to keep your skin hydrated but not greasy here.
Sneaky Acne Cause No. 5: Tanning
Back in the day, people used to recommend tanning to clear up skin. And in the short term it does kind of work. The sun dries out your skin and UV rays do have an antibacterial element, but tanning is so not the way to go. For one, we already learned that over-drying your skin will cause it to produce more oil.
Also, tanning causes your skin to increase cell production (which means more dead skin cells), so while you might get a bit clearer at first, tanning will end up giving you more breakouts. And don’t even get me started on all the skin damage, cancer risks and wrinkle issues.
Sneaky Acne Cause No. 6: Your Hair Products
What’s that you say? You don’t put hair products on your skin? Well, unless you consistently wear your hair in a slicked back ponytail and never let a strand near your face, I’d say that’s just not true.
King says hair products with oil, silicones and plasticizers can clog your pores, and if you wear your hair down, have bangs or even sleep with your hair loose it can get on your face and work it’s non-magic. So keep the products to a minimum and keep your hair off your face as much as possible. These hot updos and ponytail ideas are just the ticket.