I was having dinner with a friend recently when she complained to me about her breakouts. “I’m a goddamn adult and I take care of my skin! How am I still getting bloody pimples?” I immediately felt her pain. Before I became a beauty editor, I too used to get frustrated beyond belief that I would spend countless hours (not to mention dollars) trying to love my skin, show it how much I cared, and keep it clean and clear, only to be punished with a horror show of acne.
When I dropped her home that night I asked her to show me her skincare regimen and I could immediately see her problems. Yes, she was using very expensive products, which used on their own might be good, but together they could be a nasty combination. Not to mention with her skin type, all her skincare steps were actually encouraging pimples to pop up, rather than disappear.
So, I decided I should share my knowledge so that no one else would have to go through the utter frustration of caring for their skin so thoroughly, only to find that what they were doing was actually causing the breakouts they were trying to prevent.
You are stripping your skin of too much oil
As teens we were told that oil buildup causes pimples, so we’ve cleansed and toned to nix that nasty grease right off our faces. But if your routine is too harsh, you will actually be stripping your skin of its natural oils, which only encourages your glands to produce MORE oil. Oh hello, zits. My friend had been using both a cleanser and a toner with salicylic acid, which was stripping the crap out of her natural skin oils and making it produce more gunk to compensate. Only use a chemical exfoliation a couple of times a week, and make sure your cleanser doesn’t have harsh acids in it. Also add MORE oil to your beauty routine. Quite often, using facial oils as moisturiser (or in addition to one) will tell your skin it doesn’t need to produce more, giving you the rosy glow you so desperately desire.
You don’t take off all your makeup before bed
We know, you’re tired and busy but this is a major cause of pimples, so if you want clearer skin, wash ya darn face! See, your skin secretes during the day and absorbs during the night. If you leave any makeup on your face overnight it will become absorbed into the pores of your skin, clogging them and causing breakouts. And it’s not enough to lazily wipe your face with micellar water or a makeup wipe… that will only get rid of some of the surface stuff. As a rule of thumb, you should always cleanse after removing makeup, this will ensure all the makeup is washed away, allowing your skin to breathe.
You don’t wash your pillowcase/phone often enough
Seriously, you would become nauseous if you realised how dirty your phone and pillowcases get, and almost no one washes either of them often enough. You literally spend half your life with your face on a pillow, so it should be the cleanest thing in your house! And clean your phone every day with antibacterial wipes because seriously, so gross.
You touch your face a lot
You touch ALL THE GERMY THINGS when you are out in the world, and then you touch your face all the time. Enabling so much dirt and germs make their way to wreck your visage. Not only will it create pimples by transferring all that grime to your skin, but it will make existing zits even worse. Try not to touch your face, but if you have to, carry hand sanitiser around with you so at least your mitts will be clean.
Bloody hormones; as if making you moody AF wasn’t enough, they cause breakouts too. Hormonal imbalances can mean more sebum in the pores, which means pimple city around the neck, chin and lower jawline. This one is a little harder to manage because there ain’t no cream that can fix hormones, but you can limit the damage with spot treatments to help clear out the pores and quicken the healing process.
Your pores are damaged/misshapen
not always. No, sometimes that pesky pimple has expanded your pore because of the excess sebum. Then even after it’s gone, the large pore crater can still be there, taunting you in the mirror. Then, to add insult to injury, because the pore is now enlarged, it’s a trap just waiting to fill up with dirt and sebum which means more breakouts in exactly the same spot. The trick here is to try to avoid letting spots get this big in the first place. Try using salicylic acid a couple of times a week to ensure the sebaceous build-up can’t build up in the first place.
About the author
Elizabeth Best is a journalist, beauty expert, foodie and travel lover with a mild obsession for all things shimmery. She likes long walks down the makeup aisle and you can follow her adventures on Instagram @thebeautypalate.