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As soon as a breakout happens you’re willing to try anything to clear it up. We have all heard causes of acne over the years, some of them are true, some are myths. I wanted to share some common and often overlooked acne triggers.
Makeup brushes & sponges I can’t tell you how often someone sitting in my makeup chair asks what I use to clean my makeup brushes. They usually tell me they have brushes but they don’t know how to keep them clean. I think of all the bacteria that grows on the brushes, and then it’s dipped back into the makeup. I cringe when I see people keep the original sponge that comes with a makeup compact. Every time the sponge or brush touches your skin it comes into contact with oils and bacteria. Over time the accumulation of bacteria will grow in the makeup and on the sponge. Your makeup will become contaminated with bacteria, yes, the makeup you are putting on your skin. It’s crucial to keep your makeup brushes and application sponges clean. The beauty blender sponges are wonderful because they are washable with soap and water. My favorite brush cleaner to use on set brush cleaner is Parian Spirit. It’s also sold under the brand name of Japonesque. I find this brush cleaner leaves minimal residue and it really lifts all of the makeup out of the brushes, even stubborn cream and wax based makeup. It’s environmentally friendly. I use this so frequently that I buy the half gallon size. When I’m home I use Davinci Brush Cleaning Soap, or Shea Moisture Bar to thoroughly shampoo and clean my brushes.
Old makeup can cause acne. I know we all have a favorite foundation, cream blush, or even a powder that we’ve been hanging on to in our makeup drawer. When you go to put it on, you probably don’t take into account how old the product is. How much bacteria is festering in your makeup based on its age? Makeup does have a shelf life, and yes it does expire. In general, anything cream based should be thrown away after 8 months at the most. Powders and lipsticks need to be thrown away at 2 years old, especially if the powders are building an oily film on them. If your makeup starts to smell, throw it away. If it looks funny or has changed in texture, throw it away. If you can’t remember how long ago you purchased a product, chances are it’s expired.
Shampoo and hair products come into contact with our skin on a daily basis. We put so much effort into finding makeup products that are non-comedogenic. The problem is we don’t think twice as we slather on hair products, shampoos and conditioners that can be loaded with skin irritants and oily pore clogging ingredients. Yes we might not be applying these products directly to our face, but the residual can sweat, rub, and rinse off on to our face, chest, and back. When you’re trying to rule out what might be triggering the breakout, ask yourself if you’ve added anything new to your hair care routine. Pay attention to where you’re breaking out. If it’s along your hairline, or your cheeks and jawline it could potentially be hair products.
I’m always on the search for the next greatest product. A few years ago I tried a high end salon shampoo and conditioner which promised diamond shine and extra moisture for beautiful shiny healthy hair. I did notice some marginal hair benefits from using the new hair cleansing duo, unfortunately any benefits were completely outweighed by the cystic acne breakout I was experiencing from the product after 2 weeks of use. It’s impossible for me to say the sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) was the culprit, it could be have been the oils, SLS, fragrances, or anything that my skin wasn’t used to. I knew I hadn’t added anything else new into my beauty routine besides the shampoo and conditioner. That was the point when I started researching sulfates and decided to try sulfate free products to see if it would clear up my breakout.
I’ve had a lot of luck with switching to sulfate free cleansers and shampoos. Some experts argue that Sodium Laurel Sulfate has no effect on skin and acne. I’ve noticed it makes a huge difference for my sensitive eczema prone skin.
Nutrition when most people think about taking care of their skin they think only about the external solutions such as sunscreen, cleansers, moisturizers, serums, and spot treatments. Skin is the body’s biggest organ. We should consider taking care of our skin from the inside as well as the outside. Proper hydration, foods rich in antioxidants, a variety of vitamins and minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids play a role in skin health. I first learned about this concept by reading the Dr. Perricone’s Prescription book. Over the years of being a makeup artist I have noticed the people who have beautiful skin also place a priority on their health and diet. It makes sense, if you’re eating highly processed foods full of sugar and hydrogenated oils and preservatives, your skin can reflect your diet choices. Your skin also reflects when you’re getting the right balance of nutrition and hydration.
A good read that is more targeted to acne and clearing up your skin is The Clear Skin Diet
Stress can exacerbate an existing breakout. It seems there are many people who sit down in my makeup chair with a breakout who could use a little less stress in their life. Studies have been conducted on the link between stress being a direct cause of acne. Although findings don’t point to stress being the cause of acne by itself. There is a link to stress and acne flare ups. Especially those who are prone to breaking out in the first place. Perhaps the stress leads to increased face touching and rubbing, or picking which is an absolute acne no no. Maybe the stress leads to poor dietary choices, sleeping habits, and skipping important steps in your skincare regimen.
Caffeine intake is something to consider cutting back on if you’re experiencing a breakout. Coffee, tea, and caffeine filled sodas most likely don’t directly lead to the cause of acne, but they can rev up a breakout. Water is best.
Our cell phones go everywhere with us. We touch them when our hands are dirty, and we pick them right back up when our hands our clean. The problem is many people are not in the habit of sanitizing their phone as much as they’re washing their hands. Cell phones carry oil, bacteria, germs, ewwww! Now think of all the places we set our phone down through the day before we bring it up to touch our skin. And then there’s the whole issue of using someone’s phone.
Exfoliation – too much or too little are both potential causes of acne. The top layer of dead skin cells can clog pores, which traps sebum and leads to acne. Exfoliation can help in keeping skin clear. Too much exfoliation isn’t a good thing, the purpose of exfoliation is to slough off dead skin cells, not remove and damage the top layer of our skin. Moderation is key. If you’re experiencing a big breakout, handheld rotating brush facial cleansers can be too abrasive, spread bacteria, and make your breakout worse.
I’m sure you have heard about using a dab of toothpaste to treat a pimple. It’s actually not a great solution and can potentially harm your skin. Toothpaste is an abrasive cleaner full of anti-cavity, fluoride and whitening ingredients. It can be irritating to the skin and possibly cause a burn to sensitive skin. I would opt for a lower 2.5% benzoyl peroxide spot treatment instead of the toothpaste. Other options for spot treatment you can try is tea tree oil and hemp oil. I know it sounds counterproductive to use oil as a spot treatment but both hemp and tea tree oil are helpful in treating acne and restoring a healthy moisture balance to the skin.
Medications can trigger breakouts. Watch out for steroids, iodine, lithium, topical steroids and hydrocortisone creams. Oral contraceptives can also trigger a break out. Over time birth control has been proven to clear up acne. It’s important to remember it doesn’t happen overnight. In the beginning of taking the new medication, the breakout can get worse before it gets better.
It’s important to pay attention to changes in your daily routine that could be causing your skin to breakout. The biggest thing with acne that’s important to remember is if you can’t clear it up on your own, seek the help of a dermatologist.
Sulfate Free Products I Personally Use & Recommend
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