Unexpected Acne Triggers

We all know that getting stressed can lead to a breakout. We also know that we’re more likely to breakout during certain times of the month due to hormone fluctuation. But did you know there are some unexpected acne triggers you probably haven’t heard about?


The way you wash your clothing, bedding, and towels plays a huge role in your skin’s ability to prevent breakouts.

Avoid fabric softener and dryer sheets

Not only is are fabric softener and dryer sheets not particularly good for fabric, they’re also not good for your skin! These products leave residues behind in the fibers of fabric, and these residues clog pores leading to breakouts.

How will I prevent static cling? Dryer balls! You can pick them up inexpensively at almost any retailer in stores or online.


Fragrance in detergents can be irritating to the skin. Irritated skin is more prone to breaking out. Ditch the fragrant laundry detergent, and opt for a free-and-clear (fragrance-free) formula instead.

Swimming Pools & Water Softeners

two women in swimming pool

The disinfectants used in swimming pools typically contain iodides and/or chlorine, which often causes problems for acne-prone swimmers. If you are a swimmer, I recommend applying a thin layer of Vaseline or Aquaphor to your skin to protect it before diving in.

Water softeners have been found to lead to acne for some acne-prone people. Be particularly cautious of those containing potassium chloride.

Hand Lotions, Lip Balms, Toothpastes, and Facial Tissues

These sneaky culprits can lead to frustrating breakouts. If you use hand lotions with pore-clogging ingredients and then sleep on your hands or lean on your hands (in front of the computer, anybody?), the lotion on your hands can absolutely clog the pores on your face.

If you experience breakouts around your mouth, check your lip balms, toothpastes, and facial tissues for pore-cloggers. Many of these products are comedogenic. For lip care, I recommend Vaseline or Aquaphor. For toothpaste, check for a formula that does not have Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

Many facial tissues brands include pore-cloggers like coconut oil, isopropyl myristate, and SLS. For daily use, I recommend plain, uncoated tissues. When you have a cold or a runny nose, though, I think it is worth using the comforting, coated tissues to minimize irritation from blowing your nose. Apply a thin layer of Vaseline or Aquaphor around your nose to help minimize irritation.

Drugs & Supplements

Recreational and prescription drugs as well as supplements can contribute to acne breakouts. Before changing your medications or supplements, always speak with your medical provider about your concerns and work with them to find the best options for you.

Recreational Drugs

Marijuana, cocaine, speed, and steroids used by bodybuilders can contribute to acne breakouts.

Prescription Medications

Topical and oral steroids, anticonvulsants, Lithium, thyroid meds, Quinine, Isoniazid, Immuran, Danazol, Gonadotrophin, Cyclosporin, Disulfuram, Phentermine, and ADD/ADHD drugs can all contribute to acne breakouts.

Birth Control

Birth control is not one-size fits all. Many birth control options on the market that are higher in androgen hormones and lower in estrogen contribute to worsened breakouts. Learn which ones here.


Supplements with iodine and/or iodides, vitamin B12, and/or biotin can contribute to acne breakouts. Unless you are deficient in those areas, I always suggest sourcing supplements without those ingredients while trying to clear your skin.


Routine exposure to chemicals like coal tar, grease, chlorinated industrial chemicals, and dioxin have been found to lead to acne breakouts.

Picking and Squeezing

Take my advice: don’t pick! Instead, gently rub ice over any breakouts 1-2x a day to help minimize inflammation. We’ve found that icing breakouts can help them heal in up to half the time!

We’ve all been there. We’ve seen that little (or not so little) breakout, and thought, just one quick squeeze… and then we’re left with an inflamed red lesion with a scab that turns into a dark mark that sticks around for months.

The other risk of squeezing, even if you don’t break the skin, is driving the gunk inside of your breakout deeper into the skin, and potentially rupturing the follicle wall which can lead to a deeper cyst.

Want More?

Schedule your clear-skin consultation today!

Through a consultation we will determine the products that your skin needs to achieve your skin goals. For many this is at least one exfoliating serum, and an antibacterial serum that fights the C. acnes bacteria in inflamed breakouts.

Kyanne is a licensed esthetician and certified acne specialist with hands-on experience successfully treating acne. Her personal struggle with acne began young, she remembers having acne by age ten. From that young age, her passion has always been skin and skin care. She struggled with fluctuating acne since around age 10, and still manages her acne-prone skin to this day.

In addition to acne treatment, Kyanne also specializes in hair removal services. Waxing and sugaring are both safe and effective ways to remove hair from the root, leading to long-lasting, smooth results.

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