The age-old question, can skincare cause acne? When we introduce new products into our skincare routine, at the beginning it all comes with excitement and potential benefits for our skin. However, sometimes it can take a turn, causing adverse reactions such as blemishes, redness, dryness or even… acne. But the real question is – is your skin purging or is it breaking out?
The four main factors that cause acne
(1) Overactive sebaceous glands: which can produce excess sebum (natural skin oil), which is often thicker and stickier and has a tendency to lead to follicle congestion and an oily T-zone.
(2) Accumulation of dead skin cells: the skin naturally sheds dead skin cells but when you add excess sebum to the mix, they stick together and form an impaction plug, enabling breakout-causing bacteria to thrive.
(3) P. acnes: this bacterium is naturally present in our skin’s microbiome. When these are trapped in the skin without air, they feed on sebum and produce waste products causing visible breakouts that appear as small bumps known as comedones.
(4) Inflammation: When the skin becomes inflamed, it can appear red, swollen, and sometimes pus-filled eruptions – the hallmark of poorly controlled acne.
Using a new product can cause ‘skin purging’ or a complete breakout. But how can we tell if the product was the cause? With purging, the skin usually reacts by showing little irritation with noticeable pimples or flakiness (depending on the ingredient). However, reactions should come to an end while continuing the use of the product. This is normal as your skin is simply just clearing out bacteria and paving the way for new healthy skin. When bare skin is exposed to an active or new ingredient, it may take time for it to acclimatise to its strength. On the other hand, if these reactions continue regularly, it would be classified as a ‘breakout’- as a result of hormonal changes, stress or poor diet. At this stage, lifestyle adjustments should be altered as well as tweaking your skincare products to treat your acne.
Can skincare cause acne? Incorrect use of skincare products can trigger acne-related skin conditions. That is why it is important to incorporate products that are compatible, and which meet our skin needs. Taking the correct advice and prescribed product recommendations by a medically trained practitioner is likewise imperative.