Pimples suck, full stop. And yet, no matter how hard you work to take good care of your skin— and despite the fact that you’re no longer going through puberty— the reality is you’re likely to find one or more of these hot, red numbers gracing your face in the not-so-distant future. But why? Well, for one, life’s just kind of cruel that way. But also, due to a whole slew of zit-inducing factors you may have never have thought to address.
To give you a better idea of what you’re up against, we’ve tracked down the worst undercover culprits for pimples:
1.) You’re not getting enough sleep
Sleep is so important, it’s insane. Studies suggest getting a solid eight hours doesn’t only help with your focus and attention, but it's also imperative when it comes to keeping your skin in top shape. On the flip side, not getting enough sleep can cause your glands to overproduce sebum, which can lead to acne only getting worse. So rest up, for you face.
2.) Your pillowcase is the problem
You might not know this, but you should be changing your pillowcases every few days to get rid of the day-to-day dirt, grease and bacteria that rub off on them while you’re sleeping. In that same vein, it’s in your best interest to clean pillowcases with fragrance-free detergent, as well as those labeled “non-comedogenic”, meaning that it’s less likely to clog pores and cause and cause a breakout, if at all possible. If you can afford them, silk pillowcases are a good option because germs can't grow on them.
3.) Stress is getting the best of you
Go ahead and add acne to the list of crummy side-effects of being stressed out. That’s because stress causes the release of cortisol, in turn stimulating glands in your skin to work overtime and mess up your mug. So if there’s anything you can do to chill out, get on it. Your face will thank you later.
4.) Your diet needs a reboot
You are what you eat, as they say. Likewise, the food you put in your body on the regular can have a pretty drastic effect on the health of your skin. High-glycemic choices, like fried foods and dairy, have been shown to cause inflammation in the under layers of the skin, leading to significantly worsened skin if you’re not careful. Our advice: Pick up a fruit or vegetable every once in awhile.
5.) You smoke like a chimney
Lighting up can have a whole host of bad effects to your body, as we all know. But what you probably don’t realize is each time you take a drag, you’re actually increasing your risk of getting a zit. You see, the chemicals that make their way into your body when you inhale can pretty severely dry out your skin, forcing your sweat and oil glands to work overtime to compensate. Quitting can be tough, but just add a clearer complexion to the slew of health benefits that can result from kicking the habit.
6.) You're spending too much time in the sun
Lay out in the sun more than you want to admit? Well, besides putting yourself at a greater risk of skin cancer, you’re also exacerbating your acne troubles because fragile, sun-damaged skin tends to dry out quicker than its healthy counterparts. Don’t say we didn’t warn you that sunscreen was important.
7.) Your hair products have gone rogue
Sweat happens. The trouble comes when it starts to really flow, carrying the gel, pomade or styling cream you use to keep your mane in place straight down your face. And while those products may work seamlessly on your hair and scalp, they’re certainly not formulated for your face, which is likely to suffer from blocked pores and zits due to the intrusion. Fight back by keeping a few face wipes at arm’s reach.
8.) Guys: You’re not properly cleaning your beard
Here’s the thing about beards: They’re the best— but only if you give them the attention they deserve. Neglect them, and they’re bound to bite you in the you-know-what. By trapping dirt and grease close to the skin, clogging pores and allowing bacteria to flourish, an unkempt face forest can be ground zero for acne. So lather up a couple of times a week, and go easy on the beard oil.
9.) You don't let nature run its course
As much as you’d like them to be gone in a flash, there’s only so much you can do to get rid of a pimple. Any more than that, and you’re apt to only make matters a whole lot worse. For example, over-applying products like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can actually dry out your skin, which, as we mentioned earlier, will force it to overcompensate with oil and sebum, making breakouts more frequent. As for trying to pop a pimple that isn’t ready? Chances are, it’ll end up more noticeable. Hands off, if you can.