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Breakouts are so mysterious sometimes. You could be having a nice week of clear skin, only to have a giant, throbbing zit pop out just in time for a Friday night date. Before you try to find out which acne treatment you should add-to-cart yet again, maybe figuring out what’s triggering your breakouts can steer you in the right direction. Here are reasons you’re breaking out and what to do about them. 

What Is Acne?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is a skin condition that results in blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and cystic nodules that can be painful and deep. It is an inflammatory disorder characterized by overactive sebaceous glands and oily skin, which leads to clogged pores and breakouts. Here are some of the most common triggers of an acne breakout.

1. You Have Oily Skin

Oily skin gets a bad rap, but the oil is there to moisturize the skin and make it smooth. The real culprit is overactive sebaceous glands that produce more oil than your skin can handle, leading to clogged pores and acne.

How to deal with breakouts? Use a product that treats acne at the root and regulates sebum production. Steer clear of products that can dry out your skin, such as alcohol-based toners, because this could make your oil glands produce more oil.

2. You Have Clogged Pores

Pores can become clogged when dead skin cells are trapped, and this can result in blackheads, , and pimples. helps remove the dead skin cells and reveal new skin, as well as prevent pores from getting clogged. POND’S Clear Solutions Facial Scrub is specifically formulated for acne-prone skin. It clears clogged pores and prevents blackheads and whiteheads.

3. Your Skin Care Routine is in Denial

Let’s be honest: an anti-acne skincare routine is no fun, which is why many of us can give in to the temptation of trying more “pampering” products, such as rich creams, luxurious oils, and super-rich masks. These heavy products can irritate acne-prone skin or may contain ingredients that can clog the pores. Don’t be in denial — if you have acne, use products that address it and read the label on your skincare like salicylic acid and niacinamide to make sure you’re not making matters worse.

If you want to pamper your skin, use a nourishing moisturizer like POND'S Bright Miracle Day Cream Detox.

4. You are Being Too Aggressive

Are you applying spot treatments all over your face to “cover all bases”? Do you use scrubs on your skin like you’re sanding wood, hoping this will make it smoother? Skin that has acne is inflamed and therefore . It should be treated with gentle care, not brute force. Try using a lighter touch and see the difference. 

5. You Can’t Stop Picking

Pickers can never win the fight against acne because picking makes matters worse. It traumatizes the skin, causing further damage and inflammation that can lead to scarring. Resist the urge to pick at a pimple and just let it run its course.

6. You Workout Excessively

Do you find yourself breaking out when you’re most active? Arm yourself with the best anti-acne face scrub you can find. Breakouts can be triggered by sweating, whether from heat or working out. Sweat and acne-causing bacteria can clog your pores and lead to brand new zits. After your workout, make sure to shower and wash your face and neck.

7. You’re Sleeping with Germs on Your Pillowcase

Because dirt and oil can clog the pores, a dirty pillowcase is a huge no-no. Imagine applying all that expensive skincare only to have a dirty pillowcase rub against your skin. If you have acne-prone skin, consider changing your pillowcases every few days, and wash with an acne-safe laundry detergent that’s fragrance-free and dye-free.

8. Your Phone is Dirty

You touch your phone more than you touch anything else. According to a study by US-based research firm dscout, the average user taps their phone around 2,617 times a day! That’s the number of times you transfer dirt, oil, and bacteria to and from your phone — and then you touch your face. Just make sure that you disinfect your phone at least once a day and wash your hands or use sanitizer. 

9. You Reuse Your Mask

Unfortunately, is not a hot new urban myth. It’s very real, and if you don’t change your mask often enough, you could get it. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends changing your mask every four hours. This is based on a study performed with healthcare workers, who become less tolerant of masks and tend to touch and reposition them more after this period. Masks can also become wet with sweat, saliva, and oils, all of which diminish their filtration capabilities and cause maskne.

10. You are Chronically Stressed Out

According to Harvard Health, adult acne can be caused by hormones and stress, influencing oil production. The more oil your skin produces, the more prone it is to clogged pores and acne. So, this skin condition that causes emotional distress can be triggered by the same. Harvard Health recommends recognizing this mind-skin connection. Instead of panicking, use relaxation methods such as deep abdominal breathing for more oxygen, to stabilize blood pressure and to boost the immune system so your body can heal faster.

Choosing the right acne treatment is just one part of the battle against acne — knowing your triggers is important, too. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, so get to know your body and habits to help prevent breakouts.