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5 of the most unexpected (and weird) ways you can get acne

Most of us know that acne can be caused by hormones and genetics. And while those are the two most obvious culprits, breakouts could also be triggered by your lifestyle. We’re shining a light on the sneaky habits you may not know are breaking you out. Below, board-certified cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green shares five unexpected ways you could get acne, plus tips on how to reduce the risk of breakouts from them.


01 Pillows and pillowcases Yes, our comfy pillows and pillowcases may contribute to acne breakouts. “Oil, sweat, dead skin cells and bacteria can accumulate over time if pillowcases are not washed frequently,” Dr. Green says, and even more so if you don’t remove all makeup before going to bed.


And, she adds, the same goes for dirty bed sheets, which can exacerbate body acne. The solution? “D Dr. Green advises.


02 Stress Stress causes an influx of the stress hormone called cortisol, which triggers the sebaceous glands to produce more oil,” Dr. Green explains. “Stress also increases androgens in the body, which are also known to stimulate oil production.” This increase in oil can, unfortunately, worsen existing acne.

While there isn’t a cure for stress, Dr. Green says practicing stress-reducing habits such as meditation may help minimise stress acne. She also recommends using acne-fighting skincare products such as salicylic acid cleansers, benzoyl peroxide washes or spot treatments containing benzoyl peroxide.


03 Cell phones Like pillowcases, Dr. Green says our cell phones can also harbor acne-causing bacteria. When we press our dirty phones up to our faces that transfers the bacteria to our skin and causes friction and irritation that makes acne worse. To prevent this, she recommends cleaning your cell phone daily with disinfectant wipes and using headphones or the speakerphone to avoid placing the phone directly on your skin.


04 Traveling If you’ve noticed an increase in breakouts after a vacation, this is why: “The change in environment, sun, humidity and heat can all trigger acne,” Dr. Green explains. Even traveling in an airplane can cause “airplane acne” that’s set off by a lack of humidity that dries out skin and ramps up oil production.


To minimise the effects of traveling, Dr. Green recommends keeping up with an acne-fighting skincare routine. Her top picks? A salicylic acid cleanser to keep the skin clear of pollutants, dirt, and sweat and a non-comedogenic, oil-free moisturiser to maintain the skin’s natural protective barrier.


05 Product buildup "Acne occurs when oil, dirt, dead skin cells and bacteria build up in the pores that can become infected,” Dr. Green explains. “Therefore, applying too many products or products that clog pores can cause acne breakouts.”


This includes applying too many layers of acne-fighting skincare products, makeup or even hair products that can clog pores and cause breakouts along the hairline and forehead. “A good prevention protocol includes removing all makeup, cleansing the skin before bed every day and washing your hair regularly to remove styling products,” Dr. Green advises.


The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Murad, and are for informational purposes only, even if the advice of physicians and medical practitioners are included. This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be considered specific medical advice.  

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