This Is Why You're Randomly Breaking Out

by Miki Hayes
A beautiful young black woman applies foundation / concealer with a make-up brush in a bathroom mirr...
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Regardless of your skin type, you've probably noticed from time to time that your skin randomly decides to break out or become sensitive or irritated. But what gives? As it turns out, there are actually a number of reasons why your skin may be freaking out. And that kind of sucks, because who wants to go from having a good skin day to having to deal with what seems like totally-random texture or inflammation? But at least if you have an idea of what could be causing your skin to freak out, you have a better chance of controlling it. To find out what some of these causes are, I emailed with a few experts.

Clarissa Shetler and Christine Falsetti, founders of C2 California Clean; Dr. Craig Kraffert, board-certified dermatologist and president of Amarte; and Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and Assistant Clinical Professor for the Department of Dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center, all let me in on some of the factors you may never have expected that can cause your skin to freak out, plus what to do to get it back under control. So you have a better idea of what to do to keep your skin calm, here are seven reasons your skin could be flaring up and what to do about it:

1. Using The Wrong Skincare

C2 California Clean Apple Stem Cell Regenerating Serum, $108, Amazon

According to Shetler and Falsetti, "The primary reason that skin issues erupt is pollutants that interact with the toxic chemicals commonly found in beauty products." They further explain that products that have these types of chemicals can attract pollutants that clog pores. So to prevent this from happening, the duo recommends using beauty products that are 100-percent natural. They explain that products with hyaluronic acid and plant stem cells, like the serum shown here, will actually help plump the skin so pollutants won't be able to enter pores and cause damage.

2. Drinking More Milk

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But it's not just what you put on your skin that can cause it to freak out. What you put in your body is just as important. According to Dr. Kraffert, milk is one of the biggest dietary contributors to acne. So if you've started consuming more milk and also happen to notice more breakouts, try cutting back or switching to almond or soy milk to see if it helps keep your acne flare-ups under control.

3. Layering The Wrong Products

Amarte Aqua Cream, $93, Derm Store

If you're big on anti-aging products, Dr. Kraffert warns against using too many, as combining too many anti-aging ingredients can actually backfire. One example he suggests avoiding is using a glycolic acid or vitamin C serum along with a retinoid product. This is because the acid or vitamin C may cause the retinoid to break down. If this should happen, it could cause skin irritation and even compromise the efficacy of the other ingredients you're using. So instead of creating a complex skin cocktail that may inadvertently cause sensitivity or irritation, Dr. Kraffert recommends finding a product like this Aqua Cream that uses retinol and antioxidants in a proper ratio.

4. Using Too Many Retinoids

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In addition to layering too many different products, Dr. Kraffert stresses to also not layer too many retinoids. An example he provides is using a facial retinoid on your eye area, and then using an additional retinoid eye cream. He explains that using multiple retinoids can cause irritation and inflammation. If you've noticed patches of irritation or inflammation on your skin, check the ingredients of your skincare products to ensure that you're only using one retinoid.

5. Making A Quick Diet Change

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If you notice random breakouts, texture, or a change in your skin type (whether it has become oilier or drier), it could also be due to a dramatic diet change, says Dr. Tanzi. Because doing a "detox," "cleanse," or suddenly deciding to take a bunch of vitamins and supplements can really cause your skin to freak out, she recommends always making any dietary changes gradually. This way, your skin will have time to adjust to your diet without flaring up.

6. Seasonal Changes

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According to Dr. Tanzi, the weather shifting from cool and dry to warm and humid (or vice versa) can cause the skin to freak out. This is because when the weather cools, sebum production tends to drop, while when the weather warms, oil production can kick into overdrive. Therefore, the best way to make sure the weather doesn't have anything to do with your skin's behavior is to anticipate the changes by adjusting your skincare routine. Dr. Tanzi recommends using "more emollient moisturizers and creamy cleansers in cooler months and glycolic acid products in the summer."

7. Attending Parties

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As much fun as parties can be, regardless of the time of year or occasion, there are a few things they tend to have in common: alcohol, sugar, and late nights. While it's always fun to indulge at the time, these common factors can lead to breakouts and skin dehydration, says Dr. Tanzi. If you notice that your skin tends to freak out especially after a party, try aiming for moderation to help keep your skin in check.

After all, even though your skin freaking out may seem totally random, there's usually a reason, and it's usually one you can control.

Images: Getty Images (6); Courtesy of Brands