Sneaky things that are causing your acne

photo of a guy looking at his skin in the mirror
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Acne seems like a curse for anyone who suffers from its wrath. You could try numerous treatments and medications, but the problem never disappears. After going through two rounds of Accutane, I was still suffering from the occasional breakout and would try my best to hide my blemishes. I’ve tried every diet, product and medicine, but the following causes were the main culprits of my volcanic pimples.

The pillowcase

You spend around eight hours a night, seven days a week, sleeping on your pillow. In that time, bacteria, dead skin and oil build up on the pillowcase and can block pores. This is especially troublesome for side and stomach sleepers, where their faces regularly come in contact with this dirty surface. Try rotating between two pillows, and sleep on different sides anytime you go to bed. You should ideally wash your pillowcase every week, with two weeks being the maximum, to strip it of anything that causes acne. Additionally, look into buying a satin or silk pillowcase. They’re gentler on the skin and don’t absorb as much oil and sweat as their cotton counterparts.

Too many skin care products

When you’re struggling with acne, it’s tempting to use every skin care product you find in-store and online. You might have a bathroom filled with spot treatments, exfoliators and face masks. But this can actually aggravate your skin and cause more breakouts. Using too many active ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, could destroy your skin barrier, leaving it vulnerable to acne-causing bacteria. Instead, keep your skin care routine limited to one exfoliator, used two to three times a week, and one treatment product used daily. Stripping your skin care to a few basic products will help calm the skin and prevent any bad reactions from conflicting products. 

Lack of sleep

If you’ve been getting very little sleep, you might be noticing whiteheads popping up all over your face. Bad sleeping habits can throw off your body, thus causing hormonal acne.  It can cause your skin to produce more oil, which clogs your pores. Try going to bed early and giving yourself eight to 10 hours of sleep to prevent this type of acne. If you’re an insomniac, drink some chamomile tea and avoid any screen time before bed. You’ll definitely notice the lack of breakouts when you wake up fully rested and energized.


To all the cheese lovers, I’m sorry to announce that it might be the cause of your acne. My dermatologist told me to limit dairy consumption because it might’ve been the source of my cystic acne. After several days of avoiding any dairy, I noticed that my skin was clearer. This was a common occurrence for people that give up dairy in their diet. If you’re sad about this news, you should try vegan cheese and nondairy milks. There are so many plant-based options that mimic the real thing extremely well — you’ll find something you’d enjoy. 

Once you realize what is the root cause of your skin woes, you’ll have a clear face in no time. From personal experience, it takes a week or two to notice a difference and a month for full results. But it is definitely worth the wait.

Contact Nicholas Clark at [email protected].