You wash your face every day, maybe even with a special acne-fighting cleanser, and make sure to log a solid amount of sleep every night.
So why are you still breaking out?
Turns out, many of the habits you do every single day—some that you don’t even realise you are doing—may be leaving your skin more prone to breakouts than you think. Here, 7 everyday habits that might be seriously wrecking your skin.
ACNE CAUSE: YOU TOUCH YOUR FACE ALL THE TIME
Throughout the day, your hands make their way to your face. Whether it’s during that morning conference call, while chatting with coworkers over lunch, or while watching the game at a bar, sliding your hands to rest on your face is a common, subconscious behaviour that wrecks havoc on your skin.
David Lortscher, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and the cofounder and CEO of Curology, says touching your face may transfer bacteria to your skin, possibly fueling the development of acne as well as setting the stage for a skin infection.
Sitting ‘chin-in-hand’ also causes moisture buildup, allowing for a better breeding ground for the bacteria.
Your move: Obviously, you should avoid touching your face. But if you can’t help yourself, be sure to wash your hands regularly, he says. That way, you can scrub off some of the clingy bacteria that might transfer to your face.
ACNE CAUSE: SKIPPING A POST-WORKOUT SHOWER
After you’ve dropped the weights or jumped off the treadmill, you’re probably eager to ditch the gym. But before you head to your car, the couch, or back to your cubicle, swing by the bathroom for a quick shower to avoid a potential instant acne breakout.
Joel Schlessinger, M.D., a board certified dermatologist, says jumping in a shower post-workout, is the best way to avoid getting chest and back acne.
“Sweat easily becomes trapped inside tight-knit clothing, leading to acne, irritation and other problems. Showering after a workout is ideal because the less time bacteria have a chance to sit on your skin, the better,” Dr. Schlessinger says.
Suds up with an antibacterial body wash, focusing especially on areas where your skin touched the exercise equipment and the areas you are most to prone to breakouts.
But if showering isn’t an option, he says it’s important to at least change out of your exercise clothes ASAP and keep cleansing wipes in your gym bag to wipe off oil and acne-causing bacteria that can be settling in on your face.
ACNE CAUSE: USING THE WRONG FACIAL PRODUCTS
Read the label on your grooming products: They may be hurting you more than they are helping you.
Dr. Lortscher recommends using facial products that are labeled as “non-comedogenic”, which are designed for people with oily or acne prone skin.
“Some common pore-clogging ingredients to watch out for include isopropyl myristate, sodium lauryl sulfate, myristyl myristate, and laureth-4,” he says.
ACNE CAUSE: STRESSING OUT
It’s well known that stress can cause a whole lot of problems for your body, from hair loss to weight gain, but it can also be a trigger that sets off your skin.
Dr. Lortscher says that life stressors, like work deadlines or relationship issues, don’t cause breakouts, but they can serve as a contributing factor.
“This is because our bodies are complex—stress can result in hormone fluctuations that can stimulate the oil glands and lead to inflammatory changes that predispose us to acne,” he says.
ACNE CAUSE: USING YOUR CELLPHONE
Yep, your cellphone is probably way grosser than you think.
Dr. Schlessinger says that some of the bacteria found include staphylococcus aureus (staph bacteria), MRSA (antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria) and E. coli, which is only is this bad for our health, it can also be hard on our skin. Especially if you touch your face afterwards.
“We’re always touching doorknobs, money and other germ-covered objects and then touching our phones,” he says. “Then when you touch your phone to your cheek, all those bacteria work their way into pores, leading to acne, inflammation and irritation.”
ACNE CAUSE: TAKING WHEY PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS
Dr. Lortscher says that while although weight training alone is not thought to result in significant hormonal changes that could lead to acne, supplementation with whey proteins have been shown to flare breakouts.
“These can have similar effects on the skin as drinking too much milk, as they also trigger insulin release from the pancreas and raise insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) levels,” he says. And that can aggravate acne, according to a 2017 study from Turkey. It may also explain why lifters who supplement with whey may notice more acne on their backs and chests.
ACNE CAUSE: NOT WASHING YOUR PILLOWCASES
An important item to add to your laundry pillow is an item you spend more quality time with than anything else: your pillowcase.
Unwashed pillowcases can be hard on your skin, since dirty bedding collects things like dust mites, bacteria, fungi, pollen, soil, skin cells, animal dander, sweat, oil and other bodily fluids.
“Additionally, your skin and hair leave oil, hair product, skin cells and other buildup on your pillowcase that can lead to breakouts, inflammation and irritation.”
As a short-term fix, it’s okay to flip the pillow over and sleep on the other side, but get it in the hamper as soon as possible.
This article originally appeared on Men’s Health