Acne is largely influenced by our genetics but there are some environmental and lifestyle factors that can exacerbate the condition. These acne culprits seem relatively harmless at first glance, however, continued exposure may lead to repeated breakouts.
1. Your Laundry
We all want laundry that smells wonderful and is squeaky clean. That requires harsh detergents with strong perfumes that don’t exactly go away in the wash. And while your clothes, towels, and bedding may smell amazingly fresh, this can exacerbate existing breakouts making them more itchy and/or sensitized.
Fabric softener is another acne culprit hiding in your laundry room. This solution makes your fabrics softer by leaving a waxy film on them. This waxy residue—especially when left on your bedding—transfers onto the skin and has a high propensity to clog pores. This is true for dryer sheets as well.
If you suspect the above acne culprits may be making your acne worse, try switching to a fragrance-free detergent (I use the Arm & Hammer Free and Clear) and using an anti-static ball instead of dryer sheets.
2. Your Job
Besides the obvious stress some jobs may bring, there are some industries and job functions that are in environments that breed breakouts. For example, the combination of grease and sweat from being over a hot fire all day may make chefs more prone to breakouts. Other professions that may harbor acne culprits include: fast food workers, mechanics, roofers, drillers/roustabouts, factory or plant workers working within facilities that produce dioxins and/or chlorinated industrial chemicals.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time for a new job, however. An easy way to manage breakouts when working in these environments is to wear protective clothing (including face masks/shields and gloves), wash your hands frequently, and using a new towel/paper towel to wipe away sweat each time instead of keeping a handkerchief or using the same towel for an entire shift.
3. Taking A Swim
Swimmers acne is common amongst both competitive swimmers and enthusiasts alike. The act of swimming isn’t the acne culprit, it’s the water. Chlorinated pools often contain iodides to help with disinfecting but the combination can also wreak havoc on your breakouts.
There isn’t a super easy fix for this, unfortunately. If you’re able to get your daily swim in an ocean, river, or lake (but not Lake Merritt) then that may alleviate your issue. Otherwise, you can slather your body in an occlusive such as Aquaphor before taking a dip in the pool to limit contact.
4. Faucet Filters
Speaking of water, you might want to read this before grabbing a filter for the “hard water” in your home. These filters, sometimes referred to as “water softeners”, often contain potassium chloride which is a known pore-clogging ingredient.
Be sure to check faucet filters for any additives before purchasing.
5. Not Wearing Enough Sunscreen
I think by now everyone knows to wear sunscreen but I’m not convinced everyone knows to REAPPLY their sunscreen every two hours. Most commercial sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours in order to be effective. It says it right there on the bottle but many don’t even realize this. Whenever makeup wearers hear this, they freeze. How do you reapply sunscreen on a beat face? It’s easy, just use a spray.
Wearing sunscreen is crucial to minimizing the hyperpigmentation one might get from their acne breakouts.