You know the importance of a good skin care routine. But what happens when you think you’re doing everything right — washing your face before bed, religiously applying sunscreen, investing in every advanced formula cleanser — and you’re still breaking out?
Before you toss all your spendy beauty products, check yourself before you wreck your skin. Your woes may stem from things you’re doing outside of your skin care routine. Dr. Sonam Yadav, a cosmetic dermatologist, walks us through the most common facial flubs you may be committing.
1. You Use Too Many Hair Products
“Dandruff or a build-up of hairstyling products can spill over to the forehead and clog pores, causing acne, especially on those with longer frontal hair and bangs,” says Yadav. To prevent these types of breakouts, Yadav recommends avoiding heavy products like gels and keeping your scalp as clean as possible.
2. You Talk on the Phone a Lot
“Mobile phones are a constant source of bacteria,” says Yadav. Anyone who’s ever seen the greasy film of makeup left on your screen after a five-minute phone call knows she speaks the truth.
Yadav says it’s crucial to clean your phone with an antibacterial wipe every day and to wash your hands frequently to limit the transfer of dirt and bacteria. (And don’t even get us started on people who talk on their phones in the bathroom. Just no.)
3. You Touch Your Face Frequently
Maybe you rub your temples when you’re stressed or you rest your chin in your hand during meetings, or maybe you just can’t resist picking at your face. Whatever your situation, touching your face too frequently is the fastest way to clog your pores.
The good news? There are two ways to prevent the acne that results from too much face touching. First: Stop touching your race. Second: If you absolutely have to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
4. You Don’t Change Your Pillowcase
Similar to your phone, your pillowcase can contain a lot of bacteria. Even if you wash your face every night before you lay your precious head down, the natural oils from your skin and hair — not to mention dust and dirt from the air — can accumulate on your pillowcase and build up over time, clogging your pores.
“Pillowcases must be changed frequently,” says Yadav. Make sure to wash them or change them every two to three days.
5. You Cleanse Too Aggressively
You might think vigorous scrubbing leads to a more thorough cleanse, but it could be doing more damage to your skin than you realize, especially to sensitive areas like your nose.
Beyond lessening your scrubbing intensity, Yadav also recommends avoiding facial extractions and using a mild soap-free cleanser.
6. You Eat a Lot of Dairy and Processed Sugar
Acne on the jawline is also a common symptom of hormonal disorders like PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). If you’ve dealt with PCOS or severe hormone imbalances, your diet could play a significant role in either exacerbating or lessening side effects like acne.
To combat breakouts, drink plenty of water and swap out dairy, sugar, and refined carbs with leafy greens and whole grains.
7. You Don’t Shower Right After You Work Out
Taking your sweet time to freshen up after a workout could be causing major problems for your skin, particularly on your chest, shoulders, and back.
Yadav says the “entrapment of sweat on skin” after a workout causes dirt and oil to build up and — no surprise here — clog your pores.
The solution? “A shower at the end of a workout with a benzoyl peroxide wash,” says Yadav.
8. You Skip Moisturizing
“People with oily, acne-prone skin often fail to moisturize,” says Yadav. It’s easy to assume too much oil causes breakouts, when in fact it’s usually the opposite. “Excessive cleansing removes natural skin oils, causing rebound dryness that actually triggers or worsens acne,” says Yadav.
9. You Wear the Wrong Makeup
Makeup that’s too thick or heavy can block your pores, says Yadav. Steer clear of creamy or solid foundations and look for mineral makeup instead. Yadav also recommends scanning labels for non-comedogenic products, which are specifically designed not to clog your pores.
And take your cosmetic labels with a grain (or many) of salt: You probably have a few products in your medicine cabinet that claim to be “hypoallergenic.” Don’t be fooled — there’s no federal standard or definition for what is hypoallergenic, so it’s basically a marketing claim. And whatever you do, definitely don’t share makeup or use store “testers” without a fresh, new applicator.
10. You Use Wet Wipes or Alcohol-based Toners
It’s tempting to remove makeup residue and sweat with a face wipe or cotton ball soaked in toner, but these alcohol-based products don’t do your skin any favors. Yadav says they strip your skin of natural oils, which causes dryness and leads to breakouts.
11. You Never Clean Your Makeup Brushes
Be honest: When was the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes? Think about all the dirt, oil, random cat/dog hair, dust, excess product and other stuff that builds up or gets caught in your makeup brushes and sponges.
Now think about swirling all of that on your face. Every day. Be sure to clean all your beauty tools — brushes, sponges, etc. — a few times a week. And you don’t need fancy cleansers; warm water and a gentle soap will do the trick.