A breakout can strike at any age, at any time, and to anybody. You might have cleared your teens, or even your 20s, and think you should be out of the woods, but our bods have a different idea. Breakouts can tell us a lot about what’s going on in our lives – stress, diet, not enough sleep, hormonal changes, etc. – so how do you decode a breakout, and more importantly, how do you deal during one?
Why Am I Breaking Out? A Guide:
There are lots of reasons you might be breaking out. Another way of looking at this is – there are a lot of different things your skin and body might be trying to tell you with a breakout. Number one is stress, both physical and mental. Stress causes your cortisol levels to rise, which triggers your oil glands to produce more sebum, which elevates your risk for a bacterial infection (zit) in any of your 20,000 pores.
You’re stressed, so a pimple pops up, which increases your stress even more. The answer is not to abandon your job and your family and retreat to the mountains with a yoga mat. Instead, try some practical solutions to cutting down stress: go for a run, attend a spin class, lie on the floor with your dog, sit in a park, take a bath, or do some meditation. Even practicing some deep breathing at your desk could do the trick.
As we all remember from puberty, out-of-whack hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) are a huge culprit of acne and other skin woes. Androgens (male sex hormones like testosterone) can cause excess sebum production when they’re not properly balanced with female sex hormones, like estrogen and progesterone.
Many women take birth control pills to balance out these hormones and reduce breakouts, but if the pill isn’t an option for you, simply counteract your body’s biology by introducing a detoxifying clay mask or exfoliating toner to your skincare routine the week before your cycle. (My picks are the Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask ($33) and the Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment($105).
You’re Using The Wrong Products
Skin purging is not real, y’all. Your body detoxes through your liver, not your skin, so if a new product is causing you to break out, don’t wait it out! It’s not part of the process, it’s your skin telling you to ditch that product! Sometimes, it can be hard to know if a product is causing a breakout, or if you’re just breaking out for another reason. The best way to tell if a breakout is caused by a product is asking yourself if you typically get breakouts in that spot on your bod. If the answer is no, it might be that new cleanser.
There’s a lot of theories, misinformation, pseudoscience and personal opinion floating around with this one, but the basic science boils down to this – foods with a high glycemic index (meaning simple carbs which break down into sugars) are the most scientifically and clinically associated with acne. Dairy consumption is another one, but the science on this is less solid. If you’re not ready to go all in and commit to a raw vegan diet in the name of skincare, simply take that advice with a grain of salt, and try to introduce more greens, fresh fruits, healthy fats and water into your diet. Your body will thank you, and hey – it can’t hurt!
You can also add a supplement like collagen (which helps boost the vitality of your skin) into your diet like the Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides from February 2017’s Bless Box or the Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel Packets from July’s Bless Box!
our surroundings play a huge part in how clear your skin is. Here are a few of the plethora of reasons that could be playing into your skin:
- You need to wash your pillowcase (and pillows) more often
- Wipe off your phone screen down more
- You live in a city with high smog and pollution
- Your new space heater is drying your you skin, causing it to produce more oil, resulting in breakouts
- The AC in your office is cranked up too high, drying out your skin, causing it to produce more oil, resulting in breakouts
- Sometimes you touch your face without realizing it
- You moved cross-country (or across the globe) and the climate and allergens in the air are different
- The water in your faucet is now hard instead of soft (or vice-versa)
There are thousands of possible environmental skin stressors, so the best line of defense is to try and wash your bedding and towels often, wipe down your phone screen when you remember, try not to touch your face, and maybe invest in a pollution-busting mask like the Cilantro & Orange Extract Pollution Defending Mask by Kiehl’s ($39).
How To Deal: Overnight Acne Treatments For A Better Morning
So – now you hopefully have a better idea of why you’re breaking out, and you’re taking steps to correct these imbalances or stressors. Great! But how do you deal with your current breakout? Almost nothing works instantly – especially when it comes to skincare. But these products work basically overnight to banish breakouts.
- CosRx One Step Original Clear Pad ($20). These are the grown-up version of those sea-breeze scented Noxzema acne pads we all used as preteens. During a breakout, simply replace your usual toner with these CosRx pads, wipe down your face and neck after cleansing, and follow up with a moisturizer.
- For those whose skin is sensitive to Benzoyl Peroxide (a powerful anti-acne ingredient found in many treatments) La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Action Acne Treatment($36.95) is the ticket. Apply on damp, clean skin every night before bed, and wake up to clearer skin.
- Mario Badescu’s iconic Drying Lotion ($17) is a classic for a reason. Just one drop on a surface pimple or whitehead will dry and heal the spot virtually overnight.
- One of my go-to acne treatment masks is the Aesop Chamomile Concentrate Anti-Blemish Mask($45). This mask is a powerful skin-clearing agent, but it’s gentle enough to not irritate my sensitive skin. I use this mask as an overnight spot treatment.
- My final secret weapon are these Nexcare Acne Absorbing Covers ($8.97). To use, simply place a cover over a spot, and leave overnight. While you sleep, the cover absorbs and draws out sebum and pus, bringing whiteheads to the surface and minimizing size and redness. Sounds gross, but it totally works.
Want more skincare? You might also like this:
- The All-Natural Skincare Routine For Acne
- Face Masks To Make At Home
- The Bless Guide To Blue Light Defense Skincare