1 Your smartphone
If your cellphone is attached to your ear at all times and you coincidentally seem to be breaking out on one side of your face or jawline, more often than not you can place blame on your mobile device. When you touch your phone, you transfer all the germs you have on your hands onto your phone – not to mention the faeces particles that land on your phone while you use the bathroom. (We all do it.) That bacteria then gets into your skin and causes blemishes.
The fix: Religiously wipe down your cellphone with a damp cloth, then dry it off – or put a bit of hand sanitiser on a tissue and use that. This should kill 99% of bacteria.
2 Low levels of vitamin D
When your body is low in vitamin D, it doesn’t function as well and your immune system can weaken. This not only leaves you susceptible to illness; it also means bad bacteria can invade the body and show up on your skin as acne.
The fix: Feed your body vitamin D – go outside on a sunny day (don’t forget to wear sunscreen!), or buy vitamin supplements.
3 Minerals in shower water
Minerals in water can oxidise skin and throw off its pH levels, causing the outer preotective layer of amino/lactic acids and oils to become compromised. Result? Break-outs. Certain types of minerals also leave residue on – mixed with sweat, dirt, bacteria and oil, it’s blemish central.
The fix: Wash your face with distilled water. It sounds annoying and high-maintenance but try it for a couple of weeks to rule out the possibility of tap water being the acne culprit. You can also buy a shower-head filter, which will sift the minerals out of the water and hopefully leave you with a clearer complexion.
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4 Too much coffee
Coffee raises acidity, which throws off the pH balance of the body and creates inflammation on skin. It shows up most commonly as pimples around your mouth. Coffee also contains soluble fibre so it can throw off the pH of the colon.
The fix: Switch to drinking more water or tea. If you’re a coffee fiend and you can’t cut down, add a few pH drops to the coffee to help make it less acidic.
5 Too little sleep
Whether you’re watching TV or scrolling through Instagram before bed, the light from the device simulates your brain, which causes your mind to stay awake. It also throws off your circadian rhythm (your internal clock), which alters your sleep pattern, weakens your immune system and stresses you out.
The fix: Don’t sleep with your phone THISCLOSE to you. If you need something to do before you fall asleep, read a book (one that isn’t electronic and doesn’t glow) to help your mind wind down, or drink a cup of calming tea. This will ensure you get your full eight hours; your system will work properly and you’ll minimise breakouts.
6 Foundation that’s too thick
Makeup with a thick consistency is occlusive – it can clog pores and cause sweat to build up underneath. It can also attract dirt.
The fix: If you don’t need opaque coverage, buy a lightweight foundation. It’s okay to wear thicker makeup but you’ll have to cleanse skin more often to avoid breakouts. Cleanse once with an oil cleanser (to attract oil and break down makeup without drying out skin), then again with a foam cleanser.
7 Not using toner
Eye-rolling? Don’t: soaps can make skin more alkaline, and toners balance that. (Super-quick science lesson: the outside of the body should be acidic while the inside of the body should remain as close to alkaline as possible.)
The fix: After cleansing, swipe toner over skin with a cotton pad.
8 Too much sugar
Consuming excess sugar, bread and processed carbs increases the body’s glycemic index, causing it to produce more oil. OD-ing on these types of food causes a breakdown of skin cells, weakening collagen and elastin, which then emphasises the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The yeast in bread also promotes the growth of bad bacteria in the body – too much of that will show up on your skin.
The fix: Eat a balanced diet full of protein, complex carbs and fibre. Eat more quinoa and leafy greens, and drink a lot of water.
9 Switching products
If you get frustrated because your cleanser or lotion isn’t living up to its claim on day two, give it some time. Swapping products too quickly leaves you no time to see if they’re effective – they need at least two weeks to start working. Applying too many active ingredients can also throw off skin’s pH level.
The fix: If you’re using an anti-ageing product, try it out on your neck or forehead to see how your skin reacts. If it burns or causes irritation, wash it off immediately. If there’s no instant irritation and no pimples pop up after using it for three consecutive nights, use it as directed for at least three weeks. If you still don’t see results after a month, try another product. Remember to give skin time to adjust to that one as well!
10 Acne products
You might think that the answer to oily skin is to dry it out. Not always. Too many spot treatments can dry skin out so much that it ruins the protective barrier, causing more bacteria to get into pores.
The fix: Wash skin with a charcoal soap to get rid of bacteria and clear out pores without over-drying.
11 Cleansing brushes
Facial brushes are great for exfoliating but if you have acne, you could end up spreading the bacteria with the brush head. Also, a brush head that’s too harsh could cause micro-tears that let in more bacteria.
The fix: Buy a few brush heads and switch out your brush after washing it thoroughly. It takes three days to dry fully, so three different heads should be enough. Brush, wash, dry, switch! You still need to replace each brush head every three months to keep bacteria – and breakouts – at bay.
12 Irritating sunscreen
Breaking out more in summer? It might be your sun block, specifically an ingredient called avobenzone, which has been linked to irritation and inflammation of skin.
The fix: If you’re acne-prone or have super-sensitive skin, chooses a formula that has physical (titanium dioxide or zinc) rather than chemical blockers to lower the risk of irritation but still protect skin from the sun.
This article was originally published on Cosmopolitan.com