Why Am I Breaking Out? One Of These 7 Common Activities Is Probably The Acne-Causing Culprits

The most common question I hear regarding beauty care is "Why am I breaking out?" It's a question I often have to ask myself, a question I overhear in public restrooms, and a question that definitely deserves some answers. Sometimes, you can do everything right in your skincare routine and still suffer from the occasional outbreak. Even using safe water, a natural acne treatment, and a healthy diet doesn't always keep you safe from a big pimple protruding out of your skin when you least expect it. The first culprit that we usually look to blame is our cleanser, naturally, because that's what is supposed to be keeping us safe from breakouts. Chances are, if you haven't switched up your facial cleanser in a major way by adding a brand new ingredient or product and you haven't gotten sloppy with your routine, then blaming your face wash probably isn't fair. So what the eff is going on here?!

It can be hard to pinpoint the exact moment that your skin got pissed off enough to ruin a glowing complexion. Acne can be a source of anything from stress, to the environment, all the way to general hygiene. When the sebaceous glands become overactive in an attempt to keep the skin from drying out, an oily substance is released. That's why so many of us who suffer from oily skin in our teens also face outbreaks well into adulthood.

If you can hone in on the exact reason why your skin is misbehaving then you can increase your chances of preventing future outbreaks, but not everyone is in the same category. Something that can easily make you break out may not affect someone else, but once you determine your own personal triggers, it's that much easier to treat your acne effectively. Here are some answers to the age-old question: Why am I breaking out?

1. Squeezing Your Face

Please, you know you've secretly peered into your face in the mirror and decided to purge the impurities that seem to be living underneath the top layer of your skin. This is incredibly tempting for anyone who was a picker as a teen or gets into obsessive patterns. The next time you consider sitting in front of a magnifying mirror to squeeze out blackheads and whiteheads, take into account how puffy and inflamed your skin will look afterwards. Anytime I've decided that it's going to be a really good idea to manually unclog my pores, I also make sure I give myself a facial with tons of vitamin C, E, and anti-inflammatory properties to at least keep my face from LOOKING like I spent hours squeezing it. If you want to squeeze, steam your face first to open your pores and allow those impurities to come out easier.

2. Birth Control

Birth control has been a game changer for the past 50 years. It has been used to alleviate cramps, regulate periods, prevent unwanted pregnancies, AND has helped a number of women with moderate to severe acne. That's why most people are not looking at their birth control as grounds for constant outbreaks, but it can definitely be to blame. If you've made a switch in the brand or type of birth control you use, it's a good idea to consult your doctor and inquire about acne in relation to your birth control.

3. Your Cell Phone

Don't worry, you don't need to switch carriers or buy a new cell if you're starting to get breakouts on your cheeks and around your ears. It's a good idea to sanitize your cell phone daily because that piece of technology is carrying around bacteria, germs, and free radicals that definitely cause pimples. Simply use witch hazel or sanitizing wipes to clean your phone — do NOT use soap and water. Obviously.

4. Sleeping With Your Makeup On

It happens. You're too tired to take off that long-lasting foundation. You find yourself sleeping with makeup on in front of a new S.O. before you feel comfortable around them. Sleeping with your makeup on is one major cause of outbreaks because foundations, blush, and powders sit in our pores and clog them up overnight, and making you much more likely to get pimples. Even if you are too lazy to completely go through a long face-routine, taking your make-up off with witch hazel and oil can be a safer alternative, though you should still reconsider washing your face as you start to drift off to sleep.

5. Your Glasses Are Dirty

If you are someone who wears glasses daily, sometimes, or only sunglasses, then you should definitely be washing your eyewear with lukewarm water and soap. Say goodbye to those days of merely rubbing the lenses on your t-shirt, because that 'ish is definitely loaded with bacteria that can cause breakouts. If you notice breakouts after you wear your glasses on the bridge of your nose, cheeks, or your hairline, this may be a likely culprit.

6. Not Washing Your Face

My first response when someone with seemingly clear skin tells me they never wash their face, not even with an alternative to soap, is to point my finger directly at them and shout "Liar!" at the top of my lungs. I have many friends who are non-makeup wearers that say their secret is simply using lukewarm water and that's it. Well, guess what? That does NOT work for me. There are definitely days where I'm home, makeup free, and I skip washing my face for an entire day just to give it a breath of fresh air, but if I'm going out into the world, I know those free rads and natural toxins are going to clog up my pores and my face will start to produce all the oil my body has at once. If you have been skipping washes on the reg, not washing your face may definitely be the culprit for your new zits.

7. Heavy Oils

Oh castor oil. I wish my entire body could just respect you for being the most moisturizing, miracle oil that has ever graced my medicine cabinet. Unfortunately, the more my hair loves you the deeper my skin's loathing of you becomes. Heavy oils can also exist in conditioners and other hair products and they can definitely make oily skin throw a major tantrum. I'm not willing to have dry hair because my skin is acting like a spoiled brat, so my routine is centered around the fact that these oils leave me subject to breakouts. The days where I deep condition or do a hydrating hot oil treatment are also the days I give myself a 3-step facial where I open my pores, clean and exfoliate. I also make sure that I carefully apply oils to my hair to avoid direct contact with my face.

Image: Charlie Baker, Nate Grigg /Flickr; Giphy; Kristin Collins Jackson