If you’re like me, then you’ve found yourself, at one point or another, two inches away from a bathroom mirror at 10 PM, harsh fluorescent lighting beaming down, with two fingers poised to attack the newest unwelcome blemish on your face (likely the night before an important event too, ugh).

You thought you managed to get your acne under control, whether with a prescription topical, a makeup-removal-every-night pledge, or a smile from the hormone gods. But then… a cluster of zits appears out of nowhere. What is going on?

Simply put, acne knows no bounds. Instead of having your typical root causes (i.e. hormones, non-existent skincare routine, etc.), some blemishes spring from unexpected habits and sources. Good news is, though, that many of these sources are easily avoided or prevented.

Check out the lineup below. Which one could be the culprit for your blemishes?

1. Pillowcases

Pillowcases are essentially a catchall for hair product, drool, and dead skin. Changing them every couple of nights is a great way to prevent breakouts, especially if you’re a side sleeper. Pro tip: if you don’t own bunches of pillowcases, use t-shirts every few nights instead.

2. Towel

Similar to pillowcases, towels accumulate some nasty stuff. If you use body or hair products and wipe your hands on your towel, everything that you’ve transferred onto there will make its way to your face when you’re drying off the next go round. Consider a separate hand towel used for your face only.


3. Cellphone

Throughout the day, your hands encounter some gross stuff, from breakfast tacos to bathroom door handles to keyboards. When you text and play on your phone, a good majority of that bacteria is transferred onto the screen, which at some point will likely find itself against your cheek for a phone call. Make a habit of wiping down your phone screen with rubbing alcohol every morning for a quick clean. These alcohol pads are super convenient, and you can even carry a few in your purse.

4. Sunglasses

Detecting a sunnies-related breakout is fairly easy. If you have some new spots appearing around the bridge of your nose, consider that your sunglasses are to blame. Try using the alcohol pads that you use to wipe down your cellphone to wipe down your sunglasses every couple of days, as well.

5. New Hair Products

Sometimes switching shampoo and conditioner, though amazing for your hair, leads to clogged pores along the hairline. Same goes with new hair gels, mousses, etc. My recommendation? Shampoo close to the roots, and focus conditioner on the ends only. With styling products, try to apply these as far from the hairline as possible. Also, consider washing your face post-haircare.

6. Oil Blotting Papers

Wait, what? Yea, if you’ve used one of the bazillion varieties of blotting papers available, you’re probably as surprised as I was that these can cause breakouts. Though its a nice thought to have tea tree oil or gold dust added to your oil-absorbing sheet, not everyone’s skin reacts well to these ingredients. Try a blotting paper that is straightforward like Milk Makeup Roll + Blot papers.


7. Water

If you have moved recently and you find that your skin is breaking out randomly, consider purchasing a water filter like this one for your countertop or this one for your shower. Water quality changes from city to city (or even block to block) and additional mineral deposits or cleansing agents could be to blame for your new, unexplained zit(s).

8. Your Significant Other’s Facial Care

From the beard oil your boyfriend’s mom got him to the exciting new serum your girlfriend is obsessed with, consider that maybe what he or she is using isn’t right for your skin. If they’re not steadfast in their routine, then it’s worth asking if they mind switching to your skincare. Do they have their own skincare agenda? Consider making a date out of a trip to Sephora or the drugstore to pick out products that work for you both.

Again, acne knows no bounds, so if you’re experiencing new breakouts, it could very well be related to something completely different than the above. However, eliminating some of these factors is a great place to start on the path to super clear skin.

Photography by Lenka?Ulrichova from Darling Issue No. 16


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