When our skin breaks out, we often rush to get rid of the spots as quickly as possible. However, it may be more beneficial in the long-term to think about what may have caused the breakout in the first place. Knowing the cause of the blemish not only helps you prevent future spots, but also can help you find the most effective treatment for the current breakout.
It’s important to remember that this isn’t an exhaustive list, and so it’s always good to keep exploring potential bad skin triggers and think outside of the box.
Products clogging pores
There are certain ingredients in products which are known as ‘comedogenic’. This means that they are more likely to clog your pores and cause blemishes. Ingredients to watch out for include mineral oil, petrolatum, and silicones. A lesser known comedogenic ingredient is coconut oil – yes, it may be super fashionable at the moment and it may work wonders for other people, but if you have spot-prone skin it is best to avoid it.
Harsh and drying products
The purpose of our skin producing sebum is to keep the skin and hair follicles soft and hydrated. If you use stripping, drying or harsh ingredients in your skincare, your skin is likely to over produce sebum to compensate for this, therefore causing more spots.
A common mistake people with spot-prone skin make is excessively using anti-blemish products. Overusing spot treatments won’t make your spots go away any faster, and might actually make your skin worse.
Spot causing bacteria can sneak up on you, especially in the places you least expect. Pillow cases, towels, phone screens, makeup brushes, dirty hands – these are all things that can increase the likelihood of spots if they aren’t kept clean. I’m not saying you have to be obsessive about it, but just take these things into consideration.
“Take your makeup off before bed” – it’s said so often that it’s almost become background noise. But there is a reason that it’s repeated over and over again: it is vital for clear and healthy skin. If you don’t take your makeup off and cleanse your skin thoroughly before bed you might as well hold up a sign saying “Spots are welcome here!”.
I think the issue with this point is that a lot of people don’t specify what actually constitutes as ‘thorough facial cleansing’. A makeup wipe is not sufficient. They are irritating and only remove a small fraction of the grime on your face. Washing your face with water is not sufficient. Water alone does not have the capacity to break down the blemish-causing oils and bacteria on your skin, rendering it a pointless activity.
So how do you cleanse properly?
- Step One: Take your makeup off. (Micellar water, cleansing wipes, cleansing oils/balms, etc.)
- Step Two: Wash your face. Use a gentle cleanser (not soap) and water.
It’s common to suffer with spots on your forehead if you have a fringe. This is because the bacteria and oils which reside in your hair are adding to the bacteria and oils already on your skin, making things a lot worse.
Another hair-related issue involves the use of hair products. If you are getting a lot of spots around your hair line, it may be down to hair products such as dry shampoo, hair spray and thickening sprays.
When you are stressed your body produces the stress hormone ‘Cortisol’. This increases sebum production and can result in blocked pores and spots. So to reduce spots just reduce your stress levels, right? Easier said than done. However things that do have the potential to help reduce cortisol levels include: lots of sleep, regular exercise, healthy diet, time set aside to relax, etc. It’s worth a shot.