7 Surprising Reasons
Why You're Breaking Out

You get zits. We get zits. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, nearly 50 million Americans suffer from acne. And those painful pimples not only suck your confidence from you, but they can lead to infections and scarring. While genetics certainly play a role in how often you have to deal with those red hot bastards, there are some underlying actions we all take that can contribute to bad skin. Change these seemingly innocent actions and you'll start to notice clearer skin.


You're touching your face more
than you realize.

It's estimated that we touch our faces two to five times every minute we're awake. That's nearly 3,000 times day. How clean are your hands right now? Have you washed them since you opened that door, pushed that button or retied your shoe?

What to do differently

Make sure you're washing your hands on the regular. And when that's not an option, use an antibacterial hand sanitizer. Most solutions now are enriched with aloe or vitamins so that skin won't get dried out. And be sure not to rest your chin in your hand while you're sitting at your desk.


You're not releasing your stress.

When you're under pressure, your skin produces a hormone called cortisol which stimulates oil glands to make testosterone that then increases oil production, ultimately clogging pores.

What to do differently

There's no avoiding stress, but there are ways to ensure you're not bottling it up. Take out some aggression at the gym, spend a few minutes meditating or writing in a journal.


You're skipping sleep.

They don't call it beauty rest for nothing. Getting enough rest is a vital part of letting your body repair itself and recover, and that's especially important for your body's largest organ, your skin. If you're getting fewer than six hours, it's likely affecting your appearance, says Michael Breus, PhD, a board-certified sleep specialist.

What to do differently

Start getting one to three more hours of Zzz's, and you could see some improvement in as little as a day. Keep it up, and "within two to three weeks, people will notice that you're sleeping better by the way you look," Breus says. The more time in bed also allows overnight spot treatments to work better as well.


You're sleeping on dirt and oil.

Honestly, how often are you changing your pillowcase? Because those things can absorb a lot of grease, grime and bacteria—all the stuff you don't want pressed against your face for six to eight hours at a time.

What to do differently

If you're breaking out, you definitely want to change your pillowcase every three days or so. It might also benefit you to launder them with fragrance-free detergent. For extreme cases, try silk pillowcases as acne-causing bacteria can't grow on them.


You're not washing your
face properly.

It's not smart to go to bed without washing the day's dirt off your face. And if you're skipping the shower after working out or not washing your face (at the very least), the bacteria and oil that was already on your skin mixes with the sweat—all of which will find a nice home in your pores, settling into your warm skin and causing breakouts to brew.

What to do differently

Make sure you cleanse your face thoroughly (making sure not to neglect your beard if you've got facial hair). If you don't have time to shower immediately after the gym, use a facial wipe (Ursa Major is a favorite of ours) to clear away any bad stuff and balance oil production in the skin, minimizing the chance of new pimples.


You're neglecting your diet.

We're not talking about the old myth of eating chocolate. But such high-glycemic foods as breads, candy and soda, which cause blood sugar to spike and throw insulin levels out of whack, can be problematic for skin. Spicy foods can throw off your skin's pH levels, resulting in irritation and breakouts.

What to do differently

When you notice your skin flaring up, take a break from eating any foods you suspect to be problematic. If your skin is irritated by a certain ingredient, you might notice tiny whiteheads or pimples in a rash-like pattern around your chin or mouth.


You pick at your pimples.

This is human nature. And we get it, that zit begs you to pop it. But when you try to squeeze the puss out of your pore or unleash that trapped oil, you run the risk of pushing that nasty bacteria even deeper and spreading it around underneath your skin. This will multiple your pimples in the surrounding area.

What to do differently

It's a definite challenge, but do your best to leave your zit alone for as long as possible. This will allow nature to take its course and heal itself without irritating it. That will only make it more painful and more red. Just apply a thin layer of spot treatment and leave it be.


Dermatologist Sandra Lee, M.D. (also known as Dr. Pimple Popper) is one of YouTube's most followed accounts for her strangely satisfying videos of pimples being emptied.