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9 Surprising Reasons You're Breaking Out

  • 9 Surprising Reasons You're Breaking Out
    Start Slideshow
    9 slides
    Photo: Madewell
  • your phone
    1 of 9
    Reason #1: Your Phone

    The cause:
    Bad news: your Thursday night phone date with your long distance bestie might be the cause of those pesky chin breakouts. Why? Pressing your cheek and chin against your phone causes oils to collect and build up, along with any germs that are already on your phone.

    The fix:
    Switch to a hands-free headset, or use the speakerphone option on your phone. If you must speak directly into your phone, wipe it off with an anti-bacterial wipe first.

  • shower
    2 of 9
    Reason #2: Your Shower

    The cause:
    Here’s a crazy thought: water might be causing your skin to breakout—well, hard water, that is. Because of the high concentration of minerals, it doesn’t wash away soap and other products as effectively, leaving leftover residue that can clog your pores.

    The fix:
    Get a water softener that you can attach directly to your showerhead. Or, try dry brushing to exfoliate your skin without water!

  • latte
    3 of 9
    Reason #3: Your Morning Latte

    The cause:
    An article in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found a strong connection between dairy products and acne flare-ups. Here’s the reasoning:  most of the milk we drink is produced by pregnant cows, and therefore contain high levels of hormones that can send your oil glands into overdrive.

    The fix:
    Sub in almond milk or coconut milk if you take your coffee with cream. If you must drink dairy, avoid skim milk—surprisingly, researchers found that skim milk seems to be more inflammatory.

  • conditioner
    4 of 9
    Reason #4: Your Conditioner

    The cause:
    Most women allow their conditioner to soak in a few minutes and use their face and body wash during this time—big mistake. Silicone and Laureth-23, ingredients common in many conditioners, may leave your locks feeling silky smooth, but are major pore-cloggers.

    The fix:
    Always wash your face and body after shampooing and conditioning.


  • toothpaste
    5 of 9
    Reason #5: Your Toothpaste

    The cause:
    If you find yourself getting breakouts around your mouth, your toothpaste may be to blame. Ingredients like fluoride and sodium lauryl sulfate may cause irritation and lead to pimples and irritation.

    The fix:
    Unfortunately, there isn’t a miracle fix for this one. One simple change: switch to a gentle, non-whitening toothpaste, or make sure to cleanse your face after brushing your teeth.

  • workout
    6 of 9
    Reason #6: Your Workout

    The cause:
    Isn’t sweating supposed to lead to glowing, radiant skin? Yes, but if you don’t cleanse thoroughly afterwards, the excess sebum can solidify in your pores and lead to breakouts.

    The fix:
    Always, always, wash your face after hitting the gym. No time? Use a makeup wipe with salicylic acid, like Neutrogena’s Deep Clean Oil-Free Makeup Remover Cleansing Wipes ($7).


  • sweet tooth
    7 of 9
    Reason #7: Your Sweet Tooth

    The cause:
    Cue the sad violins: a new study has found a possible link between chocolate and acne. Researchers found that eating chocolate could increase the inflammation in your body that contributes to acne.


    The fix:
    Don’t swear off your favorite sweet treat for good—this research shows that chocolate may exacerbate acne, not cause it. But just to be safe, avoid eating it before any big dates.

  • pillowcase
    8 of 9
    Reason #8: Your Pillowcase

    The cause: 
    Waking up with a surprise pimple may cause you to be suspicious of your pillowcase—and for good reason. Like your phone, your pillowcase may be the cause of acne mechanica, which is any type of acne that occurs as a result of anything touching your face and causing clogged pores. Dirt, oil, and your own skin’s oils can build up on your pillowcase and lead to an unpleasant AM surprise.

    The fix:
    First, make sure you’re cleansing your face every night before bed. If you find yourself breaking out in the morning often, start washing your pillowcase every few days to make sure it’s oil and dirt-free.

  • makeup brush
    Next Slideshow
    9 of 9
    Reason #9: Your Makeup Brushes

    The cause:
    In the same way your pillowcases can distribute oils and bacteria back to your skin, your makeup brushes—if not cared for properly—can cause your skin to break out as well.

    The fix:
    Clean your brushes at least once every week—here’s how.


    CTA: Surprised by any of these breakout-causers? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!


By now, most women know that touching your face constantly can cause clogged pores, or that a certain time of month usually foreshadows a minor emergency around your T-zone. But what about those times when you wake up with a surprise breakout for no apparent reason? Turns out, there are a lot of things that can cause your skin to freak out—like your shower, for instance.

Intrigued? Click through the slideshow above for nine surprising things that are messing with your skin—and learn how to fix them, stat.


Photo courtesy of Madewell

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