7 Unexpected Things That Could Be Causing Your Acne

adult acne causes

Unsplash/ Kevin Laminto

Acne — we were promised that we’d get rid of it after our teenage years, but the sneaky skin problem followed us into adulthood. Acne is a skin condition that commonly occurs when our hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells, causing pimples or blackheads to appear on our faces, shoulders, chest and upper back (and other less-common places). We’ve long been told that acne results from our hormones being out of whack. Specifically, from the increased production of androgen hormones in boys and girls during puberty that’s often blamed for the onset of acne. But we have more than just hormones to blame for those irritating (and often painful) red blemishes. Here are seven unexpected things that could be causing your breakouts.

1. You’re Zinc Deficient

adult acne causes

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Zinc is an essential trace mineral that’s most commonly known for its role in the development and maintenance of a healthy immune system. A lack of zinc in the body could lead to diarrhea, dermatitis and a depressed immune system. Some studies have discovered a correlation between low zinc levels and acne — in one study, participants who struggled with acne were also found to have lower zinc levels than those who didn’t.

Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, zinc supplementation and topical-treatments are sometimes used to treat moderate-to-severe acne. One 2012 study found that zinc supplementation was effective at reducing some of the redness and irritation that comes with inflammatory and bacterial forms of acne. Before heading to your local supplement store to load up on zinc, consider increasing your zinc intake naturally by eating more seafood (like oysters, crab and lobster), meat and poultry. Those who follow a plant-based diet can increase their zinc intake by eating more legumes, nuts, seeds and unrefined whole grains.

2. You’re Using Pore-Clogging Hair Products

adult acne causes

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The sulfates and silicons present in certain hair products could be seeping into your skin when you wash your hair, clogging your pores and leading to breakouts. Hair products that contain oil could also lead to acne. To avoid clogging your pores with your hair care essentials, opt for products that are “oil-free,” “non-comedogenic” or “non-acnegenic.” You should also remember to cleanse and wash your face after you’ve finished washing your hair in the shower to make sure that there are no pore-clogging products left on your skin.

3. You’re Not Washing Your Makeup Brushes

adult acne causes

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Not washing your makeup brushes frequently enough — at least once a week, if you’re applying makeup daily — can lead to bacteria buildup that gets transferred to your skin when you put your face on. This can lead to pesky breakouts. To avoid this less-than-ideal scenario, aim to clean your makeup brushes once a week by soaking them in lukewarm warm water and using a gentle soap or makeup brush cleanser to wash off the extra product buildup.

4. You Work Out With Your Makeup On

adult acne causes

Unsplash/Bruce Mars

When you’re running to a spin class after your nine to five, you probably don’t think to wash your makeup off before you hop on that bike, but by forgoing this detail you could be doing a real disservice to your skin. Since your pores naturally open up when you sweat, wearing makeup while your work out can cause buildup in your pores and lead them to clog, which will result in breakouts. You don’t have to schlep around a bottle of makeup remover and cotton balls in order to get rid of your makeup before you exercise, all you need to do is store some simple cleansing facial wipes in your gym bag and take a quick second to wipe your face before your class begins.

5. Your Partner Is Rocking A Solid Beard

adult acne causes

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A solid scruff can be highly attractive, but if your partner’s sporting one and the two of you lock lips on the regular, it could be causing your breakouts. When your skin rubs against your partners’ scruff, it can become irritated, stimulating excess oil production. This extra oil can combine with dead skin cells in your pores, creating a blockage that could lead to breakouts. If you’re not a fan of your SO’s beard, we just gave you solid grounds for convincing him to shave it.

6. You Favor Hot Showers

adult acne causes

Pexels/Leah Kelley

Ending the day with a steamy shower before curling up in bed with a good book sounds delicious, but all that hot water could be wreaking havoc to your skin. Hot water can dry out your skin by stripping it of its natural oils, this can cause your skin to overcompensate by secreting even more oil. And we already know that excess oil production can lead to clogged pores, which causes breakouts. So resist the temptation to turn your water temperature all the way up next time you take a shower — your skin will thank you for it!

7. You’re Not Sleeping Enough

adult acne causes

Pexels/Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush

If you’re frequently not snoozing seven to eight hours per night, your skin could be suffering. Skimping on sleep can trigger your adrenal glands to become overproductive during the day. Adrenal glands are responsible for producing a variety of hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline  — two hormones that are known to be not-so-great for your skin if present at elevated levels in your body. High cortisol levels, for example, can prompt your skin’s glands to produce more oil causing your pores to clog and leading to breakouts. Getting more shut-eye can do wonders for both your skin and your energy levels.

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