A pimple or acne popping up right before an important event is woe itself. We’ve all been there, cursing the universe time and again for marring our skin with hateful breakouts. But then again, have you ever wondered what is actually causing them to surface, ill-timed or not?! Let’s understand the basics of it all and have a look-see at the surprising yet probable reasons why.
The Need-to-Knows about Acne
Acne is a common yet chronic, inflammatory skin condition that causes spots and pimples to flare up on the face, back, chest etc. It includes whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, cysts, and nodules that usually start to come around puberty but can resurface at any age.
The oil glands a.k.a. sebaceous glands underneath our skin are what produce sebum, which is secreted by follicles and goes out through the pores. The sebum carries oil and dead skin cells through the follicles to the surface of the skin. In technicality, breakouts occur when these follicles get clogged with dead skin cells, sebum and hair, clumped together like a plug. It is when the plug gets infected with bacteria and starts to break down, that a pimple begins to swell up on the skin’s surface.
While acne is not dangerous per se, it can, however, leave scars and dark spots, gravely affecting the skin’s quality and appearance, with, of course, our self-confidence.
Causes of Breakouts
Coming back to what causes these nasty bumps to pop up, there’s actually a myriad of reasons; the not-so-obvious ones listed right below:
Exfoliating Too Less or Too Much
Exfoliation is a pretty specific skincare habit. Whether you go overboard or skip on it frequently - either way can lead to frequent breakouts. Over exfoliation removes the skin’s lipid barrier and the necessary moisture - making it dehydrated, puffy and extremely vulnerable to inflammation, which can escalate to breakouts.
Exfoliating too little or not at all, on the other hand, results in sebum & dead skin cell build-up that further leads to dull, lifeless skin spotted with acne. It simply hinders the regeneration process of the skin - worsens the clogged pores, accumulates dead skin cells and messes up with the moisture barrier while gravely escalating ageing.
Sleeping with your Makeup On
We’ve all heard and read countless times that sleeping with makeup on is an absolute skin sin. It traps dirt and pollutants inside the pores, resulting in increased free radicals that can cause DNA mutations, collagen degradation, premature ageing and of course, acne breakouts.
Continuing with the habit over time can also hinder the natural shedding process of the skin, leaving you with a coarse, dull and lifeless visage. The accumulation of dead skin and pollutants further creates a hotbed for harmful pathogens that can lead to allergic reactions, inflammation or severe infections.
With innumerable products out there promising the world, all of us tend to fall into the honey trap of trying out new skincare or beauty products sometime or the other. Switching products frequently before giving them a chance to work challenges our skin with new ingredients, which can be irritating and cause breakouts. Further, the use of products with potentially pore-clogging ingredients (comedogenic products) like oil-based makeup, some silicones, and some liquid foundations also lead to acne over time.
Facial Hair Removal
Removing facial hair through waxing, threading or de-fuzzing doesn’t actually cause breakouts per se, but they can potentially trigger the causes that do. Usually, it is a comedogenic product applied to our skin before or after hair removal that clogs the pores and plants new acne seeds in the skin.
Breakouts can also occur due to the irritation caused by the wax itself, or because of hair being pulled out of their follicles, causing existing acne under the surface of the skin to get inflamed. The friction and pressure caused by the act of waxing or threading can at times irritate the follicles and activate a condition called “Acne Mechanica”.
It is also possible that the bumps on our skin might actually be a rash (e.g. contact dermatitis or folliculitis) and not true acne, caused by bacteria or ingrown hair. It is important we buff away dead skin cells and clean hairy areas and the equipment we use before de-fuzzing, waxing or threading.
With obvious reasons like hormonal changes, excess sebum production and inflammation, to name a few, there’s a lot of other common, yet lesser-known factors that potentially trigger acne. While effective treatments are available, acne can be very persistent. And since none of us can always have spotlessly radiant skin, prevention is any day better than cure, right?!