Acne affect between 40 million and 50 million individuals in the United States each year. Although acne mainly affects adolescents, it is also present in children and adults. One study found some degree of facial acne in 54% of women and 40% of men older than 25 years. 

With those statistics, it’s important to know the cause of your acne and breakouts in order to effectively treat and control it.

The most common causes of breakouts and acne are clogged pores, excess oil production, hormonal changes, poor skincare, diet, stress and more. 

Other causes of continuous and stubborn breakouts are less obvious. You might think you are doing all the right things to prevent breakouts, but have you considered these less obvious causes of acne and breakouts:

After Cleansing – so you are cleansing regularly to maintain an acne-free complexion and making sure you remove all traces of makeup each night, but are you finishing the job correctly. Most of us think nothing of reusing the same towel to dry our skin after cleansing, but even a towel that has only been used once can lead to additional breakouts by transferring bacteria to the skin. Always us a clean washcloth and a clean towel to pat the skin dry.

Analyze Your Products – you know that buying non-comedogenic products is important for keeping pores clear, but manufacturers are not required to prove that their products are non-comedogoenic. Look for ‘Dermatology tested’ products to ensure they are truly non-comedogenic and will not clog the pores.

Switching Products – stubborn acne and reoccurring breakouts are frustrating and most of us continue to search for new and better products. That’s a mistake – switching products can be counterproductive and may lead to clogged pores, over exfoliation and dry skin.  Be patient.  Slect quality products and stick to them. Wait at least three weeks but it can take six to eight weeks for products to do their job. 

Check Your Hair Products – that’s right, the following ingredients in your hair products might be clogging your pores and causing breakouts. Avoid hair care products with isopropyl myristate, myristyl myristate, sulfates such as sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate, lanolin and derivatives of lanolin like Solulan L-575 and Solulan-75 most commonly found in conditioners.

Avoid Occlusive Oils and Gels – hair products contribute to breakouts more than you think. They create a film over the skin and hair to seal in moisture, but in doing so, they clog pores which leads to breakouts especially around the hairline, behind the neck, upper back, forehead and cheeks.  The thicker the product is, the more occlusive oils it contains.  Hair masques contain the most, conditioners less and styling products the least.

Travel Alert – flying high, weather changes, and stress of travel causes breakouts. Most of these breakouts are caused from dehydration resulting in smaller, red pimples. Keep your skin hydrated while traveling and stick to your skincare routine.

Friction – probably the most overlooked cause of acne and breakouts. Called acne mechanica - it occurs when the skin is aggravated by friction from cell phones, helmets, sports bras and other things that cause constant friction or pressure on the skin. Clean your cell phone often, keep sporting equipment clean, and remember to wipe or wash skin after working out. 

Perfumes and Fragrances – believe it or not, a splash or spray of perfume or fragrance will cause acne, especially in those with sensitive skin.  Avoid spraying scents around your face, and make sure your skin care products are fragrance free.

Pillows and Pillowcases – these are a breeding ground for bacteria and a host of millions of dead skin cells and dirt. Wash your pillowcases at least once a week. Some Dermatologists recommend that you also wash your pillow.

Moisturizers – First, it’s a common myth that those with acne cannot use moisturizer. Actually, skipping this step in your skincare routine could make your acne worse. It’s important to select the right kind of moisturizer – one that is oil free and non-comedogenic. Look for moisturizers containing ceramides (a type of lipid that improves the skin’s barrier and adds moisture). Ceraminds are also suitable for those with sensitive skin and Rosacea. Avoid moisturizers containing mineral oils and petrolatum, rather look for products containing silicone oils like dimethicone.

Medications – Acne can be a side effective of a number of medications. Breakouts from medication are sudden and all blemished look alike. Medications that commonly cause breakouts are anabolic steroids; bromides (found the sedatives, analgesics and cold remedies); iodines (found in cold and asthma remedies, kelp and multi-vitamins).