10 Things You Do that Are Causing Acne Breakouts

Last Modified: February 23, 2017 at 8:52 am by Tianna | Leave a comment

10 Things You Do that Are Causing Acne Breakouts

When I was in high school, I had horrible hormonal acne, much like any other teenager my age and I absolutely hated it. Little did I know that, at the time, I was doing many things on this list of things that cause acne breakouts which are, yes, causing an absolute sh*t show on your face as we speak. Thankfully, I caught on with a little help from some observant friends who smacked the dirty wash cloth out of my hand and after my experience with years and years of acne that left me self-conscious and awkward. These days, my acne can be summed up into the occasional spots, some redness, and some scarring on my cheeks because I am a picker (minor now thanks for face oils and other helpful products – see below!). So, I thought I would share some of things you do that are causing acne breakouts which you probably have no idea are sabotaging your dreams of flawless skin.

10 Things You Do that Are Causing Acne Breakouts

You Never Clean Your Cell Phone.

This is one I’m even guilty of. We use our phones all the time, but do we ever stop to think how much of our dead skin, dirt, oil, and debris collect on that screen? If you deal with frequent cheek breakouts, this may be the jerk douche bag who’s ruining your complexion.

You Never Wash Your Sheets or Pillow Cases.

Do you deal with cheek and chin acne (even when it’s not that time of the month)? It might be your sheets or pillow cases! Ideally, you should be washing your sheets and pillow cases every 2 weeks otherwise you’re allowing dirt, oil (from your skin and hair), and dead skin to build up on the fabrics and be pressed up against your skin every night.

You Use the Same Wash Cloth Every Time You Clean Your Face.

My friend once caught me in the middle of washing my face and then using that same wash cloth to wipe the counter. Gross, I know, but I literally didn’t give it a second thought and that’s my point here! Are you using the same wash cloth to dry your hands and your face and then using it over and over again? At the maximum, you should be using that wash cloth 2 times before swapping it out for a fresh one and NEVER use the same cloth to wipe your face as you use to dry your hands or clean the counter. Why? Because it’s nasty, that’s why.

You Constantly Touch Your Face.

This is a tough one. I’m a picker, by nature, and it’s taken years of training to stop myself from picking at my face or even just leaning my face on my hand. As I type this, I’m even getting the urge to do it because that’s how ingrained this habit is. That said, this kind of thing causes acne on your cheeks, chin and even forehead. Picking can exacerbate existing breakouts because you’ll be spreading the infection or allowing dirt directly into an open wound (the pimple). This is how multiple breakouts can form in the same area, right next to each other, or even more painfully on top of each other.

You Use Pore-Clogging Hair Care Products And/or Sleep In Said Products.

Your hair care products don’t have much to do with your skin, but if you sweat during the day or go to sleep with those products in your hair still, they could be making you break out big time! Hair products will travel onto your pillow case and sweat can lead hair product to drift onto your face on a hot day, thereby clogging your pores. You can either wash your hair every night before bed to ensure no product gets on your skin or simply use more skin-friendly, natural hair care.

You Use Too Many Products And/or Over-Exfoliate Your Skin.

Are you a skincare junkie like me? If you’re changing up your skincare routine a lot or if you use a thousand and one products, but still deal with unhappy skin, it might be that you’re doing way too much! Try simplifying your routine, exfoliating only once a week or every two weeks and see how that goes. Too much of a good thing can be bad.

You Eat Way Too Much Junk And/or Sugar.

Any sugar addicts in the house? I love my chocolate and candies and french fries just as much as the next person, but too much can upset your skin for the worse. If you deal with acne, imbalanced and super oily skin, persistent breakouts in the same spots that never seem to go away, redness and rosacea, then your diet might be to blame. Too much processed or fried foods, chips, and sugary foods can not only age your skin, but they can also cause your skin to become inflamed if your body itself is dealing with too much inflammation. Make sure you’re getting enough lean proteins, greens, veggies, fruits, and water. Not sure what to eat? Try these beauty foods

You Consume Too Much Dairy.

Love your cheese? Dairy can sometimes upset skin, especially when it comes to conditions like rosacea, some acne, and other skin issues. This is either because you’re lactose intolerant (most people are – it’s actually more rare to not be) or because of the toxins that are often found in milk, cheese, etc. like antibiotics and hormones which can upset the balance of your skin and body and cause inflammation.

You’re Always Stressed.

Do you have a lot on your plate at the moment? If you find that you are extremely high strung, stressed out, and overwhelmed, this could actually be causing breakouts and skin issues. Stress affects our bodies in all kinds of ways, including aging us, causing inflammation in the body, and more. Check in with yourself and make sure you’re giving yourself proper rest, food, exercise, and relaxation. If you struggle with stress, here are my top 5 ways to relieve stress ♥

You’ll Sleep When You’re Dead.

Is this your current life motto? I’m personally a night owl so I can definitely relate, but sleep is SO important. It determines how efficient you can be during the day at any number of tasks, influences your cravings (for junk and sugary foods), affect workout performance, and yes, your skin. Sleep can age your skin, cause your skin to be imbalanced, dull, and irritated. Every body is different so this can affect everyone in different ways. Everyone should average about 7-9 hours of sleep per night, but see what works best for you.

My Favorite Acne Fighters:

things you do that are causing acne breakouts

For Spots


For Redness

suti cleanse organic balm

For Deep Cleansing

leahlani love honey cleanser 3 in 1

For Dullness & Clogged Pores

argentum apothecary la potion infinie cream

For Dry, Acne Prone Skin


For Imbalanced, Oily, & Combination Acne Prone Skin


For Sensitive Acne Prone Skin


For Acne Scarring and Pigmentation

You can find reviews on my blog for most of these products by plugging the product names into search (top right) – otherwise, feel free to ask me about any in the comments and I can link you up directly!

Are You Guilty of Any of these?

What Are Your Favorite Skincare Products to Use for Acne?


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67 thoughts on “10 Things You Do that Are Causing Acne Breakouts

  1. March 3, 2016 at 4:56 AM

    My boyfriend has terrible acne and I’m going to let him know about some of these tips – they’re so simple! I get breakouts when I eat dairy, it’s so addictive but it makes my skin awful. This month I’m determined to seriously cut down on it

    Steph – http://nourishmeclean.blogspot.com

    1. March 3, 2016 at 9:40 AM

      I hope this helps you/your boyfriend out! A lot of these are just easy, common sense things that most people would never think about. I know I didn’t haha. It took a lot of time to figure them out and they have definitely helped keep my skin clear 90% of the time. Dairy is delicious, but not so good for the skin lol. You don’t have to cut it out completely if it’s something you love, but maybe once a week splurge on your favorite kind of dairy (like cheesy pasta or whatever you enjoy) and then skip it the rest of the week. Even that small change will make a big difference. Hope this helps and thanks for visiting!

  2. March 3, 2016 at 5:51 AM

    I am sooooo guilty of #’s 1, 4, 8 and 9!! Thankfully, my hubby cleans my cell phone all the time lol because I always forget! And I am a total cheese addict! I don’t drink milk, but I loooooove my cheese! Oh, and total picker here too…is there a picker’s anon somewhere? lol 😛

    1. March 3, 2016 at 10:05 AM

      haha well I hope these help you out. it’s just a matter of being a little more mindful and it makes a big different. Lol we totally need a picker anon subreddit or support group. it’s a freaking problem for me lol. ♥ thanks for visiting Sabrina ♥

  3. March 3, 2016 at 7:57 AM

    I am awful for touching my face and forgetting to clean my phone! Also I notice a massive surge of spots when I have sugar, even a wee bit. So frustrating as an adult to end up with spots. Le sigh!

  4. March 3, 2016 at 11:39 AM

    I’m definitely guilty of the sugar…I’ve been seriously trying to cut back. Dairy isn’t a big thing for me besides ice cream, which combines the two. So quitting that has been a blessing. I do also dry my face with the same towel. I know this is bad, but for some reason haven’t made a point a change it. Guess I better get on that! I bought that Kypris stuff and was so disappointed after I had heard such great things. Buuuut I also know that my skin problem is due completely to hormones, so I don’t know if anything could have helped during the time I was using it. I should use it again now that my skin has calmed down a bit. Okay enough 🙂

    Clothes & Quotes

    1. March 4, 2016 at 10:48 AM

      that’s great it’s something you’re working on. Diet is something that I feel like I’m always working on lol. Also, super bummed that Kypris hasn’t worked out for you! How are you using it, if I may ask? Maybe there’s a missing part in your routine or a product that is affecting it. Let me know how it goes this time around for you and if I can help you out – feel free to email me or shoot me a msg on FB ♥

  5. March 3, 2016 at 10:22 PM

    Oh, cell phones–those are so, so dirty! x_x I’ve been using hand sanitizer on my phone whilst at the hospital, heheh.

    I need to sleep more though. :[ Not sure when I’ll get to do that though!

    1. March 4, 2016 at 10:53 AM

      yeah it’s so gross lol. hope you get more sleep soon Farrah ♥

  6. March 4, 2016 at 12:43 PM

    I thought I was going to be so smug reading this but I have literally never cleaned my phone! How would I even go about doing this?! #PoCoLo

    1. March 4, 2016 at 2:48 PM

      Hahah well then I’m glad it was hopefully, somewhat, helpful to you! You can clean your phone using lens cleaner or any kind of glass cleaner is fine as well. Thanks for stopping by, Charlene!

  7. March 4, 2016 at 3:29 PM

    Why is it so hard to keep my phone clean? So guilty. Also the dairy. And the sugar. And the sleep. Otherwise I think I’m good lol. Great post that I’ll be sharing!

  8. March 6, 2016 at 7:15 PM

    This is such a great list! I tend to get more acne when I don’t sleep well, and I don’t drink enough water. As a vegan I don’t get as much acne as I did before when I consumed a lot of dairy foods. Thanks for sharing.
    Rosalyn O. recently posted…DIY Hair Dye! How to Color Hair at Home TutorialMy Profile

    1. March 8, 2016 at 9:12 AM

      thanks Rosalyn! Glad you found it helpful 🙂 That’s great to know! and thanks for sharing your experiences as well 🙂

  9. March 7, 2016 at 9:49 AM

    Ugh! I hate having adult acne. It’s not horrible, but it does seem like I’m trying to get rid of a pimple at least every other week. All bets are off when it’s that time of the month. This is a very informative post. I’m stumbling, pinning and tweeting. Happy Monday!

    1. March 8, 2016 at 9:17 AM

      thanks for sharing my post, Lindsey! I hope it helps you out. I had adult acne for most of my early 20’s and a lot of these things really helped clear most of it up. Now, I only have the occasional breakout and so I know they really work. I hope this gives you some relief as well! Thanks for visiting ♥

  10. March 7, 2016 at 3:31 PM

    When I was in High School many of my classmates suffered from horrible cases of acne. Fortunately, I never had pacne problems, however I am delighted to learn about these healthy natural skin care products that can help with acne breakouts. Nobody wants to suffer from acne, so products like the ones you highlighted are so helpful. Thanks for sharing your tips and solutions with us at the Healthy Happy Green & Natural Party. I’m pinning and sharing
    Deborah Davis recently posted…Java Joy: The Many Benefits of Drinking CoffeeMy Profile

    1. March 8, 2016 at 9:17 AM

      thanks for sharing my post Deborah! I definitely think acne is a pretty common thing and all these things can exacerbate the issue for people so I hope people find this helpful ♥ thanks for visiting!

  11. March 7, 2016 at 5:20 PM

    Great tips! We won’t talk about how many I’m guilty of doing. Thanks for sharing at the Healthy Living Link Party.
    Blessings, Leigh

    1. March 8, 2016 at 9:20 AM

      haha thanks Leigh! I promise not to tell anyone 😛

  12. March 8, 2016 at 5:29 PM

    I am so bad about touching my face and need to make a better effort of stopping this habit. Great tips!

    Thank you for being a part of TBT Fashion link up and hope to see you soon!


    1. March 11, 2016 at 1:08 PM

      It’s really just a matter of practice and being more aware lol. I’m terrible at that one, but it’s worth it to try to not do it. Glad you found these helpful 🙂 thanks for visiting!

  13. March 8, 2016 at 7:19 PM

    I don’t have much acne but my face does get pretty oily throughout the day. I never think about cleaning my cell phone, maybe that’s enhancing the problem. And I love that you said “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” My father used to say that all the time. Thanks so much for sharing at Inspiration Thursday.

    1. March 11, 2016 at 1:11 PM

      If your face is really oily, you might think about using a face oil as a night treatment and oil blotting papers during the day. the face oil will help balance your skin oil production out while the oil blotting papers will definitely help you stay matte. Let me know if you need/want specific product recommendations. I’m happy to help 🙂 Cleaning your phone is just a good habit to avoid dirt getting all over your face. Haha I feel like that’s my philosophy sometimes – I just feel so much more productive at night! I want so badly to be a morning person, but alas, I’m not there yet. thanks for stopping by and hope this helps!

  14. March 8, 2016 at 8:20 PM

    I’m amazed my skin isn’t worse because I’m guilty of all of the above, and I’m horrible about knowing what products it is that I need, so I use them all. LOL! Thank you for sharing with us at the Friday Funday blog hop! #FFBH

  15. March 8, 2016 at 10:29 PM

    Thanks for linking up to Top of the World Style. Good points. Some of them unfortunately apply to me. Didn’t know the cheese thing, but you are right! I ate cheese last weekend and they popped up.

  16. Hil
    March 10, 2016 at 4:17 AM

    My kids don’t let me get much sleep and I am stressed a lot so I know that doesn’t help my acne 🙁

    Thanks so much for linking up at the #BloggerSpotlight party! I pinned this to our group board. Don’t forget to come link up again tonight and see the featured posts!

    1. March 11, 2016 at 1:16 PM

      sheesh girl, hope you get some sleep! it’s so important to your skin and overall health 🙂 thanks for stopping by!

  17. March 11, 2016 at 5:00 PM

    Great tips!! I’ll have to look into those products for my son. Thank you for sharing with us at the #HomeMattersParty
    Jamie recently posted…Dogs Deserve Better…Do You Agree?My Profile

    1. March 15, 2016 at 7:50 AM

      glad you found them helpful Jamie and hope they help your son out!

  18. March 15, 2016 at 7:31 PM

    More great advice! I am guilty of a few of these now and then! Thanks for sharing this with us on Throwback Thursday!


  19. March 17, 2016 at 8:00 AM

    A great list of tips and advice, I have to admit to not cleaning my phone!
    Thanks for linking to #PoCoLo

    1. March 17, 2016 at 9:42 AM

      Thanks Morgan – I’m glad you found it helpful! It’s not something we think of as something that can mess with our skin, but it definitely does. Thanks for visiting me 🙂 ♥

  20. March 23, 2016 at 9:33 AM

    haha I had to laugh at the last one… I say “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” all the the time, and it totally shows on my face. :/ Everything you say is so true! Making healthy lifestyle choices is the BEST way to be beautiful. 🙂

    1. March 23, 2016 at 1:25 PM

      haha glad you got a laugh, Bradleigh! I definitely do the same thing. Too much Netflix – working on that one haha. I definitely agree that lifestyle choices make a huge difference in how we look and feel. hope this helped you out ♥

  21. March 24, 2016 at 9:39 AM

    I am the worst about remembering to clean my phone. It makes so much sense. I mean my fingers touch everything, then tap all over my phone…then phone touches face. Just ewww. This post also reminded me I need to go wash my pillowcases!

    1. March 24, 2016 at 11:10 AM

      it’s crazy how we don’t notice all the places that dirt and dust can gather, right? Believe me, I would never have thought about any of these things if acne hadn’t plagued me for so long lol. Hope you found this post helpful 🙂 thanks for visiting Tiffany!♥

  22. March 30, 2016 at 9:23 AM

    Wow it is great to know all of these things that I do and cause me acne, thanks for sharing!

    My Vogue Style | http://www.myvoguestyle.com

    1. March 31, 2016 at 9:53 AM

      of course 🙂 hope it helped you out!

  23. March 31, 2016 at 6:41 PM

    Such great tips! Wish I had known these when I was 15!

    ​xx katie // a touch of teal

    1. April 5, 2016 at 8:21 AM

      thanks Katie – lol you and me both! I would’ve had much better skin 😛

  24. April 2, 2016 at 4:59 PM

    These are great tips! I change pillowcases every few days but I never think to clean my cell phone!

    Doused In Pink
    Jill recently posted…Pink + NavyMy Profile

    1. April 5, 2016 at 8:32 AM

      glad you think so, Jill! Hope you learned something new 😀

  25. April 18, 2016 at 11:25 AM

    Great tips – I’m going to share this with my son! Thanks for sharing it with us at the #HomeMattersParty
    Jamie recently posted…Things That Bring Back Memories – Voltron #MondayMemoriesMy Profile

  26. Kate F.
    April 19, 2016 at 3:18 PM

    I’m definitely guilty of not cleaning my cell phone often enough. Thanks for the tips!

  27. Cheryl Everitt
    April 28, 2016 at 3:14 PM

    Thanks for sharing!! I need to pay more attention and use your tips.

    1. April 28, 2016 at 4:17 PM

      of course – let me know if they help you out 🙂 ♥ thanks for stopping by, Cheryl!

  28. May 4, 2016 at 11:56 PM

    Fab post and mega helpful! I’m guilty of virtually all of the above so it’s no wonder I’m covered in spots at the moment. And cleaning the phone?? Never would have occurred to me!
    Thanks for the wisdom!

    1. May 10, 2016 at 12:43 PM

      glad you found it helpful! hope it helps your skin become more clear. ♥

  29. May 6, 2016 at 8:58 AM

    I’m definitely guilty of a few of these, including not cleaning my cell photo often enough! Love this post, and going to try to be better!

    1. May 10, 2016 at 2:01 PM

      yeah I think we’re all guilty of these haha. It’s definitely not easy to be aware of what we’re doing, but the first step is noticing it. I spent years wiping my face with dirty washcloths lol. someone else had to tell me I was doing it. progress! 😛 thanks for stopping by Rachael ♥

  30. May 6, 2016 at 3:10 PM

    This post was so informative, thank you!

    xo, Lauryn

    1. May 10, 2016 at 2:27 PM

      glad you found it helpful! thanks for stopping by Lauryn 🙂

  31. May 6, 2016 at 4:49 PM

    Agree with these! Acne is so hard for me to get rid of! It completely went away when I was doing whole30, but now that I can eat normal food, it’s back!! There’s no in between lol!



    1. May 10, 2016 at 2:29 PM

      Yeah I totally know what you mean. Acne is something I struggle with and it definitely dies down a LOT when I’m eating properly and avoiding junk. Maybe you have a food allergy or you’re consuming too much sugar if it affects you that strongly? Might be something to look into. Hope this helps 😛 thanks for stopping by Liz!

  32. May 9, 2016 at 8:29 AM

    Brilliant post!! I have definitely noticed that when I eat more dairy/sugar/junk food my skin breaks out, but I had never thought about hair products! Since I only wash my hair every other day, that one is so useful!

    xo Mary-Katherine | http://www.goldhattedlover.com

    1. May 10, 2016 at 2:39 PM

      thanks Mary-Katherine! I definitely have a similar experience and my hair can seriously make or break my skin. it’s a big reason I try to minimize the product I use because I only wash my hair 1-2 times per week. Hope you find it helps you out!

  33. Cathy Roa
    May 23, 2016 at 9:08 AM

    Some good tips on this post. Thanks!

  34. seem
    June 1, 2016 at 7:44 PM

    I am really glad that you have share this post..
    It was very helpful

  35. Monique
    August 29, 2016 at 12:41 PM

    Thanks so much for this! Some of these really are common sense….I read this list going, “oh yeah. I knew that!”

    I didn’t really have issues with acne as a teen (unless it was that time of the month), but these last few years have been the worst! I have recognized problem areas…now I need to put that knowledge into action!

    1. September 1, 2016 at 10:26 AM

      haha glad you think so, Monique! Hope this helps your skin find clarity 🙂

  36. February 9, 2017 at 1:29 PM

    This post is so helpful. I have a teen & can appreciate all the tips.
    Thanks for sharing at the #InspirationSpotlight Party @DearCreatives Pinned & shared.

    1. February 10, 2017 at 9:26 AM

      glad you find it helpful! Making these small changes has helped my skin immensely! x

  37. March 31, 2017 at 1:27 AM

    I’m always stressed out, I drink too much coffee, and I rarely get 6 hours of sleep. I don’t have an acne problem, but I always get those tiny white bumps (or whiteheads, I guess) around my forehead, cheeks, and chin. They are more tolerable than pimples, but because there’s a lot of them on my face, it makes me feel less confident. I’ll reevaluate my lifestyle and try to be more healthy. I really want to have clear and smooth skin. You have great tips, thanks for sharing!

    1. April 11, 2017 at 9:08 AM

      I hope these tips help you out! Sleep and cutting back on the coffee just a little will probably help you! Or if you consume a lot of dairy, cutting back on that may help too. thanks for stopping by, Jenny! xx

  38. January 20, 2018 at 5:26 AM

    Thank you for this post! I didn’t have a lot of acne as a teenager but now all of a sudden in my early 40’s it has started creeping in to my life. I will try some of these remedies. Thanks so much..saw your post at the blogger’s pit stop.

    1. January 22, 2018 at 10:40 AM

      Absolutely! Acne is a curious thing and has so many causes. I hope these tips help you out! xx

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