10 Reasons Why Your Face Keeps Breaking Out (And What to Do About It)

5. Sugary, Processed, Greasy and Fatty Foods

The safest way to minimize acne via your own diet is to eat healthy. “Further research needs to be done to conclude a correlation between diet and acne. However, if you notice that you have breakouts after eating a certain type of food, you should avoid that food,” says Dr. Gross. 

It is generally thought that anything overly processed or sugary might increase your odds of a breakout. Dr. Gross has a strong opinion about greasy foods, too: “It hasn’t been proven that greasy and high-fat foods cause acne, but I believe what’s good for the heart is good for the skin, so try to limit these types of food in your diet.” You are what you eat, and your skin reflects that, in other words. 

6. Coffee, Alcohol, Smoking, Drug Use

One of the hardest things to hear is that all the world’s best vices can cause breakouts. (OK, they can cause things way more severe than a pimple, too.) “Avoid caffeine and alcohol when you are stressed, because they are both dehydrating and negatively affect sleep, which can aggravate acne,” says Dr. Gross. “Caffeine and red wine can also trigger rosacea—which people often fail to realize is a type of acne.”

Dr. Gross goes on: “Try to avoid smoking completely, since smoke is toxic for the skin and smokers tend to experience breakouts in the areas where the smoke accumulates.” And do we even need to get into the effects of recreational drugs on the body?

7. Comedogenic Skincare Ingredients

If you have acne-prone skin, then you need to be a little more discerning with your skincare regimen than others. That means looking out for “comedogenic” ingredients (which are those that clog pores and cause “comedones”, or pimples.) Dr. Gross says to avoid the following: mineral oil, lanolin, and butyl stearate—all types of oil that can easily clog pores. We’d add coconut oil to that list, which has a “4” comedogenic rating (on a scale of 0-5, with 5 being the most pore-clogging). 

While some oils have a 0 rating (like argan oil), Dr. Gross says it’s good practice for acne-prone individuals to avoid any product with oil.

8. Poor Hygienic Choices

If you sweat a lot, then you need to wash your face a lot. Same for your hair, whether it gets oily or is packed with hair products on a daily basis. 

“Hygiene plays a role in the development of acne when the body perspires heavily,” says Dr. Gross. “Dirt, oil, and bacteria get trapped on the skin’s surface and clog pores. To keep the skin clear, I recommend changing out of your clothes immediately after excessively sweating and cleansing your face with lukewarm water and a non-stripping cleanser (in or out of the shower), to help rinse away the bacteria that can cause acne.”

9. Stress

“Stress in all of its forms is a catalyst that can play a role in aggravating acne because it affects your oil chemistry,” Dr. Gross says. “When you are stressed, your body releases adrenaline and cortisol. When your cortisol levels rise, it can trigger your oil glands to produce more oil and lead to breakouts.” Remember stress can come from so many places, like a lack of sleep, a poor diet, and inactivity. 

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