Pimples. We’ve all had them at some stage in our lives.
Everyone can sympathise with the stress that a bad skin day causes and for a lucky few, these come around irregularly.
For the rest of us mere mortals, however, bad skin is a problem we live with on a regular basis.
You might be surprised to discover that there are a few simple reasons as to why your skin is breaking out.
Read on to discover why you might be suffering those pesky eruptions.
One of the biggest skin blunders we make is using the wrong kind of skin care products. Pimples are caused when the sebaceous glands become overactive and produce too much sebum. Occasionally, these overactive glands can become infected and filled with bacteria. This causes them to swell up and voila, a pimple is created.
TIP: Skin care products that contain comedogenic oils will exacerbate sebum production in your skin. Look out for products that are ‘Non-Comedogenic’ or that contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, retinol or alpha hydroxy acids. These will be kinder to your skin and help keep bad skin at bay.
Hormonal imbalance can wreak havoc on your body, especially your face. Most women suffer break outs in the week leading up to P-Week, due to a surge of androgens in their body. Androgens will trigger the skin to produce more sebum and we already know this leads to pimples.
TIP: Birth control, namely the pill, has been used for years not only as a contraceptive, but has been known in some instances to help maintain clear skin. Some variations of the pill counter the effect of androgens by increasing oestrogen and progesterone in the body. Talk to your doctor about whether or not the pill is suitable for you.
We all know that stress is particularly unkind to our bodies, but if you ever thought there was a link between stressful periods and the sudden appearance of acne, you were right. Turns out, stress triggers a flight or fight response in our bodies, causing us to produce more cortisol. Cortisol in turn stimulates testosterone and bada bing, bada boom – pimples.
TIP: Testosterone is known to stimulate the oil production in our skin, leading to those nasty red bumps. The best way to counter an over production of cortisol in your body is to work it out with exercise, meditation and deep breathing. Good luck!
4. Lack of sleep
Are you getting enough shut eye? Lack of sleep is the root problem of many evils we face. Grouchiness, weight gain, caffeine addiction… You name it. It also contributes heavily to the quality of our skin.
TIP: We’re recommended to get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night in order to facilitate proper healing and balance in our bodies. Make sure you’re getting some quality ZZZ time!
5. All the Good Stuff
It has been proven that there is no connection between chocolate and pimples.
Let me just repeat that for you… There is no connection between chocolate and pimples. (Do I hear angels singing?)
Unfortunately, however, there have been studies that identified a link between a diet high in processed sugars and excessive dairy and those dreaded pimples.
TIP: The good news is that you don’t have to cut these foods out entirely, just eat in moderation.
6. The War Paint
It’s a culprit that we don’t give a lot of thought to, but how old is your make up?
TIP: Check your foundations, powders etc. Most importantly, check your brushes and sponges. Foundation has a shelf life of a few months, powders can last up to six but brushes and sponges need to be washed regularly to avoid nasty bacteria build up.
7. Popping Pills
Are you on medication at the moment? Steroids, even in small traces, are prevalent in a lot of prescription medication and are known to wreak havoc on our skin. Similarly, antibiotics, while killing the nasties, also kill the good bacteria floating around in our bodies.
TIP: Before you go flushing away your meds though, have a chat to your doctor. There are plenty of remedies your doctor can discuss with you as well as supplements or alternatives if you’re having a reaction to your medication. If you’re taking antibiotics, try popping a probiotic regularly. This will help reintroduce some good bacteria into your system and get your glowing skin back on track.
8. Your Beauty Routine
Are you washing your face too often? A lot of people with problem skin are under the belief that their skin is greasy or somehow dirty. Not the case. In fact, over washing your skin will dry it out and cause your skin to compensate with excess oil production. Bang! Problem skin.
TIP: Stick to a gentle cleanser and wash your skin no more than twice a day.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. We all know that we need to aim for 2L of water a day but a bevy of opinions will tell you that you can make up some of these 2L with juices or teas. It’s simply not the case. You need clean, fresh water to flush out your system and keep your skin clear.
TIP: Keep a few reusable water bottles in the fridge to help you keep track of your water consumption and make sure you’re getting enough H2O.
10. Mobile phone
Like to chin wag? It may be contributing to bad skin. The surfaces of our handy little mobile phones are a veritable breeding ground for bacteria and dirt. We hold these babies up to our faces and voom, the little critters swarm onto our skin.
TIP: Keep some antibacterial wipes handy and wipe down your phone from time to time to keep it bug free and skin friendly.
11. Bearded boyfriends
Everyone loves a beard. Unfortunately, your bearded beau could definitely be contributing to your skin issues.
TIP: Ask him kindly to shave, or if that isn’t an option, encourage him to man-scape by regularly tending his face mane. Keeping it clean and as soft as possible will stop it from irritating your face and causing break outs.
12. Spicy foods
Love the heat? Not all spicy foods cause break outs, but a lot of spicy food contains chillies, tomatoes and various peppers. These are all rich in acidic lycopene and in a few lucky people, acidic lycopene wreaks havoc on our natural PH balance.
TIP: Keep a food diary for a few weeks and see if you can track a correlation between acidic foods and skin break outs.
We all know that Vitamin C will help ward off a cold, but did you know that Vitamin A and E are fantastic at promoting healthy skin? The best natural sources of Vitamin A are sweet potatoes, spinach, pumpkin, rockmelon and capsicum. Vitamin E is found in nuts and oils.
TIP: If you’re struggling to get recommended serves of your vitamins and minerals, try a quality multivitamin to boost the health of your skin.
Smoking is just a no-no. It’s bad for your body but also terrible for your appearance. Smoking depletes your body’s cells of oxygen and one of the many side effects of this is dry and dull hair, skin and nails.
TIP: Quit the cancer sticks to see an almost immediate improvement in your skin health.
15. Hair products
Sulfates and silicones in your shampoo, conditioner and stylers can leave greasy residue on your skin and trigger break outs.
TIP: Keep your face off your hair when you sleep and switch up your hair care routine to see if you notice a difference
Exfoliation is great for our skin health, but scrubbing too often and too hard will exacerbate problem skin.
TIP: Scrub no more than twice a week and with gentle products. If your skin is particularly prone to irritation, try making natural scrubs or using a soft face washer.
17. Washing powder
The culprit behind your break outs may be further away than you think. Every night that you lay your head to rest on your pillow could be causing you to break out.
TIP: Check the ingredients in your washing powder or detergents. You can put your clothes in for an extra rinse cycle or try switching to a softer, gentler brand. Baby friendly washing liquids are a great option for people with sensitive skin prone to chemical related break outs.
Working out is great for you, but sweating can be disastrous for your skin. Whilst sweating allows our pores to open up and clear themselves, it can also allow nasties to fester in our skin.
TIP: Prior to working out, make sure you clean your skin of make up so your skin can breathe while you sweat it out. After exercising, wash and moisturise to help promote clear skin.
19. Too much sun
We’ve all heard the tale that sun exposure will help bad skin, but it’s far from true. While a daily dose of Vitamin D is recommended for all around health (15 minutes a day and remember your sunscreen!), too much sun exposure will dry out your skin. This leads to wrinkles, pigmentation, dreaded skin cancer and also encourages your skin to produce excess sebum. Voila, pimples!
20. Shower Time
We all love a hot shower, particularly after a stressful day, but too much heat on your skin will dry it out, actively encouraging oil production and pimples.
TIP: Wash your face in lukewarm water and rinse off with cold to close your pores after a shower. This will help keep dirt and other nasties off your skin.
21. Leave it alone!
Finally, we all know it… Don’t pick at your face! When you use your nails to pick at your skin, all the nasty bacteria hiding under your fingernails (trust me, there is plenty and it is disgusting) transfers to your traumatised skin. This can cause an innocuous white head to become a full blown, can’t-stop-staring-at-it pimple.
TIP: Remember to wash your hands before you touch your face and if you absolutely cannot resist squeezing, wrap tissues around your finger nails and be gentle! Apply a topical pimple cream, preferably one containing salicylic acid and try to leave it alone.