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12 Surprising Habits That Can Cause Acne

Sometimes you do everything right and you STILL get acne. Discover 12 surprising habits that may be causing your acne!

Young woman looking at herself in the mirror as she pops a pimple on her face

We’ve all been there: cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize, and you STILL get breakouts and blemishes.  Sometimes, you feel it coming on, but other times, they pop up out of nowhere (and of course, it’s usually right before a big date). Whether it’s greasy skin, breakouts, or full-on blackheads, acne is tricky.

Before you call it quits on clear skin, hear us out. Obviously, the skincare products we use can make a huge difference. However, there’s an entire world of other factors that influence acne…

Keep reading and discover 12 surprising habits that may be causing your acne.

Is Your Face Mask Causing Acne?

Possibly! Maskne (mask + acne) is the buzzword people use to describe acne caused by wearing a face mask for an extended period of time. If you wear a face mask and notice extra blemishes around your chin, mouth, or nose, you may be experiencing maskne. 

For some, a thinner, more breathable mask may not be an option. If that’s the case, you may want to alter your skincare routine to compensate for the extra moisture and bacteria that get trapped under your mask. 

Click here for tips on avoiding maskne!

Is Your Pillowcase Clean?

We spend several hours each day with our faces pressed into our pillows. When they’re clean, that’s not a problem. But here’s the thing. After just a few days, “stuff”  like dust, bacteria, and dead skin cells can accumulate in the material (cringe!). 

Our tip: make sure you’re cleaning your pillowcases (and sheets!) regularly! We recommend giving your pillowcases a wash at least once a week. If you notice less acne or oily skin, then one, you’re welcome, and two, awesome! You’re on the right track!

Make Sure Your Phone is Clean

Speaking of keeping things clean, your phone might look clean but it might secretly be covered in dirt and bacteria! And not just your phone, this goes for all your tech accessories. Anything that comes in contact with your face has the potential to transfer bacteria to your skin. Even touching your phone and THEN touching your face can transfer bacteria. 

You’ll want to check if the manufacturer of your device recommends a particular type of cleaning solution. Once you figure it out, make cleaning your devices a regular part of your routine. 

Click here for other ways to fine-tune your tech habits!

Clean Your Skincare and Makeup Tools!

Over time, our skin and makeup tools can get surprisingly grimy. Whether it’s a trendy jade roller or your trusty makeup blender, make sure they’re clean! Even if you’re using these tools on freshly cleansed skin, they can still absorb natural oils from your skin. 

Some tools can be easily cleaned with a quick rinse, but makeup brushes require a bit more effort. Every tool is different, but try to give ALL your skincare and makeup tools a thorough cleaning at least once a month.

Can Your Hairstyle Affect Acne?

Surprisingly, yes. Curtain bangs are trending (and for good reason!), but your hair can absorb oil from your skin. When your bangs absorb that oil, they keep all that moisture and bacteria right on your face. Then we all know what happens next: BAM! Acne.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to decipher if your bangs are causing you to break out. Take a glance at your face and notice the skin underneath those cute bangs. Is it oilier than normal? Do you regularly get breakouts there? If yes, then it’s possible your hairstyle is contributing to acne. 

Stop Sleeping With Makeup On!

Whether it’s out of pure laziness or exhaustion, sleeping with your makeup on happens to the best of us.  Unfortunately, doing so also contributes to acne because your skin needs to breathe! There’s nothing wrong with wearing a full face of makeup during the day. But if your skin can’t get enough oxygen at night, you’ll absolutely experience more oily, acne-prone skin.

We know it’s tempting to fall right into bed after an epic night out, but do your skin a favor, and wash your makeup off before bed. Trust us, your skin will thank you.

Not Cleansing After A Sweaty Workout

This one is pretty obvious, but we’re all guilty of waiting a little too long after a sweat session to shower or wash our face. Regardless if you absolutely crush those spin classes or if you barely survive (no judgment), you still need to properly cleanse your skin of sweat. If you don’t, all of that oil and bacteria will just sit on your skin and clog your pores. 

To avoid sweat-induced acne, toss your favorite cleanser in your gym bag and give your skin a quick cleanse in the locker room post-workout. 

Not cleansing after a sweaty workout can cause acne - Fifth & Root

Can Poor Sleep Cause Acne?

Yep! Not getting enough sleep can cause a variety of different issues, and acne is one of them. Poor sleep can dry out your skin, send oil production into overdrive, cause puffy or irritated skin around your eyes, and can even lead to early signs of aging. The phrase “beauty sleep” may sound silly, but you really can sleep your way to healthier skin.

Whether you need to sneak in a nap or set a bedtime for yourself, do your best to get a few more hours of shuteye. 

Click here for more info on sleep and skin health! 

Does Stress REALLY Cause Acne?

Ab-so-lutely! Stress is one of the trickiest factors when it comes to acne. Stress can CAUSE acne, but acne can also CAUSE stress. It’s this type of endless cycle that makes people want to give up on clear skin goals. But don’t give up!

The best way to break this cycle is to minimize cortisol production. Cortisol is the hormone often responsible for stress-induced acne.  Our bodies release cortisol to cope with stress, but normally, it’s reabsorbed after stress passes. So, dealing with stress for long periods of time means you have lots of cortisol hanging around, which can lead to acne.

The best remedies for this are extra sleep and stress management. The former will help your body process all that cortisol, and the latter will help your body produce less cortisol. If stress is behind your acne, naptime and yoga might be in your future ;)

Are You Exfoliating Too Much?

Exfoliating is a VERY important part of any skincare routine. However, over-exfoliating can lead to dry, irritated skin that’s more prone to acne. It’s also possible that you’re using the wrong type of exfoliant. Sensitive skin can get irritated from harsh physical exfoliators, but chemical exfoliators aren’t always enough for certain skin types. 

Whatever the case, pay attention. If your skin feels raw, sensitive, or you notice more blemishes, you may be exfoliating too much. You can cut back the number of times you exfoliate each week, or you may decide to try a different exfoliant altogether.

Shop Karmic Cleanse Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser - Fifth & Root

Because we need different levels of exfoliation, we prefer to use a two-in-one product like our Karmic Cleanse Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser. It’s a powder formula that gives YOU all the power when it comes to exfoliation. Need something more gentle? Add more water. Really need to scrub it out? Add less water for a thicker consistency. 

Click here to learn more about the difference between chemical and physical exfoliants!

Too Many Acne-Fighting Treatments

Speaking of skincare products, let’s talk about acne-fighting treatments. It can be oh so tempting to try and blast the acne off your face with ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and even alpha-hydroxy acids. However, use caution. While these are some of the most well-known and widely available acne-fighting ingredients, they can also be very harsh. 

Plus, using them too often (or combining them) can actually stress your skin. That can look like dry, damaged skin, but it can also look like oily, inflamed skin. If you find yourself using LOTS of these acne-fighting treatments and you’re still struggling with acne, pump the breaks. It may be time for a gentler approach.

Can Fragrance and Perfume Cause Acne?

Sometimes. You might absolutely love the way something smells, but your skin may not love it as much as you do. Fragrances (sometimes labeled “perfume” or “parfum”) are found in a shockingly large number of products. While they may impart a desirable scent, they can also dry out your skin and increase sensitivity. FYI: both of those can lead to acne. 

If you think fragrances may be the culprit behind your acne, switch to unscented products or use brands that disclose their aroma ingredients. Terpenes (the aromatic compounds that give most plants their scent) are growing in popularity because they’re less sensitizing than synthetic fragrances. 

Click here to learn about the terpenes we use in our products!

Acne is normal, but with a few tips and tricks you'll see clear skin in your future - Fifth & Root

Clear Skin Is In Your Future... just might take some trial and error. Things like nutrition, hydration, and skin picking (STAWP IT) also have a major impact on your skin. Plus, sometimes it’s just best to refer to the experts. If you’re really struggling to rid your skin of acne, talk with a dermatologist or a certified esthetician today. 

Also, can we just take a second to say there’s NOTHING wrong with acne?!?! Acne is a normal part of your skincare journey. Sometimes acne is even how your body tells you it’s dehydrated, hormonal, or irritated. Seriously, your skin is so amazing.

So, even if you’re not feeling confident in your skin, please know we think you’re absolutely gorgeous. Love the skin you’re in, babyyy!

Till next time, sistas!

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