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Healthy Habits That Trigger Acne
by Emily Linehan on April 25, 2022
If you’ve struggled with acne you’ve probably heard a lot of theories as to what can trigger it. There’s obvious culprits, such as wearing makeup with pore clogging ingredients, or not cleansing properly, but what if I told you that some of the habits you thought were healthy may actually be triggering breakouts? Below we’ll dive into some of the seemingly safe habits that could be playing a pretty big role in your acne battle.
Using “Clean” or Organic Products
The “clean beauty” movement, which promotes natural and organic beauty products, has become pretty trendy in the last few years, but are these products truly better for your skin? You may be surprised to learn that even though all natural products are marketed to be the best thing you can do for your skin, unfortunately oftentimes this isn’t the case, especially when it comes to acne prone skin.
Natural/organic products are, as the name implies, full of natural ingredients, many of which tend to be well known acne triggers. Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Algae, and Soybean Oil are just a few of the worst pore clogging culprits that are often found in natural products. Whether a product is advertised as “clean”, “organic”, or anything else, I highly recommend you review my pore clogging ingredients list and cross check your products for any of these acne causing ingredients!
Something else to keep in mind is that a lot of ingredients in their natural state can have a lot of inconsistencies and even sometimes be harmful to the skin when dealing with free acids (like citrus). If you’re interested in learning more about the natural beauty trend I highly recommend you check out my blog, 3 Misconceptions of “Natural Beauty” Products.
Vitamins and Supplements
You might be thinking “Emme, how could taking vitamins be a bad thing?!” Well, vitamins and supplements aren’t necessarily bad, however if you’re acne prone it’s important to pay careful attention to what type and how much you are taking.
Want longer hair, stronger nails, or glowing skin? Biotin has been marketed to us as the way to achieve all of those benefits for years, but did you know there are actually no published studies to validate the supposed benefits of taking Biotin? There are however a few known issues with Biotin, including increasing clogged pores, creating deficiencies in Pantothenic Acid (which helps our skin clear), and being a key nutrient for acne bacteria. You can take a deeper dive into Biotin and why it may be triggering your acne here.
(Too Much) Vitamin D
Vitamin D offers a ton of essential benefits for overall health! In its D3 form it is especially great for sensitive skin or those with chronic inflammatory conditions such as acne, psoriasis, eczema, etc. This is due to its anti-inflammatory properties helping to rapidly repair and rejuvenate the skin.
Unfortunately studies have shown that too much Vitamin D can trigger hormonal acne. This is because excessive amounts of Vitamin D stimulates testosterone production, which as you likely already know if you’ve struggled with acne is an aggravating hormone.
I recommend that you have your doctor check your supplements asap to ensure that you aren’t over doing it on Vitamin D. I personally love the Designs for Health 2000 IU Vitamin D Drops!
(Too Much) B12
B12 is another nutrient that plays a key role in several processes in your body including metabolism, DNA production, energy, red blood cell formation and more. Being deficient in B12 can cause a variety of issues, but an excess of B12 can have some negative side effects as well. While the research is ongoing, some recent studies have revealed that too much B12 can be an acne culprit due to it leading to an increase in porphyrin production by Propionibacterium acnes.
To put it simply, excessive B12 can be an issue if you’re acne prone, so proceed with caution before taking any supplements or injections (and always check with your doctor first!)
Unfortunately your favorite protein powders may be a huge trigger for your breakouts. This is because many popular protein powders are formulated with whey and casein, which are made from dairy and are primary contributors to causing acne. Soy is another common protein source which, although not derived from dairy, is just as triggering.
But what if I use a plant based protein powder? Unfortunately as we’ve discussed previously, natural isn’t always better. Many plant based protein powders include “super greens” that are known acne triggers, such as algae, maca, seaweed and more.
If you check your labels and find any of these acne triggering ingredients don’t panic, there are plenty of safe alternatives available. In fact, I've done the detective work for you and have compiled a list of #EmmeApproved Acne Safe Protein Powders.
Breaking a sweat is great for your body and sweat itself can even help to rejuvenate your skin. However, sweating with dirty skin or taking too long to complete your post workout skincare routine can lead to breakouts because it creates the perfect environment for acne bacteria to thrive. Not only does the salt in our sweat irritate the skin and exacerbate inflamed breakouts, but our sweat mixed with our oil and dead skin cells contributes to clogged pores which are the catalyst for new acne formation.
This is why it is important to take care of your skin properly both pre- and post-workout. Here are my recommendations -
Before Your Workout
Be sure to remove any makeup. If you workout with makeup on this can prevent the sweat from surfacing and clog your pores. Plus, if you wipe your sweat off with a towel while wearing makeup you can actually push the makeup and bacteria deeper into your pores.
If you workout in the morning it’s also important to remove any active skincare products that you applied that night before, such as acne treatments, retinol, etc. as sweat can reactivate these products resulting in dryness and irritation.
So before you workout, be sure to cleanse, tone, apply Skin Quencher Gel, moisturizer, and sunscreen (if the sun is out!).
After Your Workout
As mentioned before, hanging out in sweaty skin can lead to a variety of issues. Therefore, completing your post-workout skincare routine within 5 minutes of your workout is essential.
This likely means that you will need to take your skincare products with you to the gym, yoga class, school locker room, etc. To make this a bit easier I created the Skincare Travel Set! It includes a compact size of all of your skincare essentials to ensure you can cleanse no matter where life takes you.
For additional guidance, check out my pre- and post-workout skincare tips.
So, What Now?
Now that you know some healthy habits that could be triggering your acne I encourage you to evaluate your routine and see if any of these may be contributing factors for you. It’s also important to note that to successfully clear acne, we need to not only address the cause and control the bacteria, we also have to uncover and eliminate all of the potential triggers. While we touched on many triggers in the article above, there are so many more potential acne triggers that could be standing in the way of clear skin.
This is why if you haven’t already I highly recommend you take my free online consultation so that we can address your skin concerns, uncover hidden triggers, and get you on the path to getting clear and staying clear!