Surprising Causes Of Breakouts

woman inspecting skin in the mirror

Enjoying perfectly clear skin one day, but then battling with blemishes the next? This is a skin concern that confronts many men and women.

Want to know why this happens, and what you can do about it?

Here are a few surprising causes of breakouts, all of which can easily be prevented, leaving you with clear, smooth skin.

A Dirty Cell Phone

Your cell phone may seem clean when you look at it, but cellphones actually carry 10 times more bacteria than a toilet seat

While toilets are associated with germs, and therefore cleaned frequently, cellphones are not, and bacteria ends up thriving on its surface.

Each time you hold your phone up to your face, these germs get transferred onto your cheek, chin and nose, resulting in breakouts in these areas. The technical term for this is acne mechanica, and it is a problem that violinists and football players also often face around their chin area.

Wondering how often you need to clean your phone?

Try to wipe your cellphone down twice a day, preferably with an antibacterial wipe. You could also invest in a headset for your phone, as this will enable you to speak on it without having to hold it up to your face.

Vine Vera Surprising Causes of Breakouts cleaning cell phone

Another way to minimize germs on your cellphone is to keep it to yourself, rather than sharing it around. By doing this, your phone will only be holding one set of germs, rather than picking up everyone else’s when your phone is passed around.

Here are a few other everyday items that you should also be wiping down regularly:

  • Remote controls
  • Shopping carts
  • Other phones around your house and your office
  • Elevator buttons

Neglecting to Cleanse at the End of the Day

During the day, your skin will come into so much contact with germs, dirt, oil, and more. If you do not cleanse your face at the end of the day, all of this will end up settling into your pores, leading to inflammation and breakouts.

This is why, if you only cleanse once a day, it should be at the end of the day, rather than the beginning. This way, if you cleanse before you go to bed, your skin will still be clean in the morning, meaning that all it will need is a splash of water and the rest of your skin care products.

What about cleansing wipes?

These can be great if you are really in a fix, as they will remove quite a bit of the dirt, oil and bacteria on your face. However, these do also leave a residue behind, which could potentially lead to more breakouts

Your Hair Products

As necessary as hair styling products can sometimes be, many of these are oil-based formulas.

You’re likely thinking…

“But those products go on my hair, not my skin!”

While this may be somewhat true, small amounts of your hair product will still end up touching your skin, and, due to their oil-based formulas, this would be the equivalent of you rubbing excess oil onto your face.

Fortunately, there is an easy fix…

  • Look for oil-free hair products
  • Check that the ingredients do not contain any common acne triggers, such as silicone and petrolatum.
  • Always wash your hands before touching your face after applying a hair product
  • Change your pillowcases regularly, as these will often absorb your hair products

In addition to styling products causing breakouts, your shampoo can also do the same.


Well, shampoo, as well as conditioner, will often leave a residue along your hairline, which can then lead to breakouts in this area.

To prevent this from occurring, make sure that you thoroughly rinse your hair and hairline after shampooing, and then use a cleanser on your face to remove any remaining residue.

You should also try to tilt your head to the side when rinsing any products out of your hair, as this will prevent the residue from running off onto your skin.

Overusing Topical Anti-Acne Treatments

If you regularly experience breakouts, then you likely already have a large stock of anti-acne treatments. Whether this may be salicylic acid, sulphur or benzoyl peroxide, using these treatments too much can really dry out your skin.

You may be thinking…

“But my skin needs to be dried out in order to clear it of excess oil!”

This is not strictly true. While you do want your acne treatments to clear away excess oil and bacteria, you do not want them to completely dry out your skin.


When your skin becomes dried out, this triggers it to produce even more oil in order to compensate for all that has been removed, which then leads to an increase in breakouts.

Overusing topical anti-acne products can also make your breakouts appear worse, as these products often slightly burn the top layer of skin, making your complexion appear even redder and more inflamed.

A Zinc Deficiency

Zinc is essential for healthy skin, which is why it is often a key ingredient in skin care supplements.

Here are just a few of the benefits that zinc can have on your skin:

  • Reduces inflammation
  • Boosts the immune system and helps it to fight bacteria
  • Speeds up skin healing
  • Reduces the production of the specific type of testosterone that leads to acne

As you can see, zinc plays a huge role in the health of your skin, which is why a deficiency in this mineral can often show up as unexpected breakouts.

Zinc deficiencies are becoming increasingly common these days, making it worth considering whether or not this could be the cause of your breakouts. 

Vine Vera Surprising Causes of Breakouts zinc

In addition to taking zinc supplements, you should also try to increase your consumption of foods that are naturally high in zinc:

  • Lamb
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chickpeas
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Cocoa powder
  • Cashew nuts
  • Spinach

Glasses and Sunglasses

Glasses and sunglasses sit on the skin for extended periods of time, and this makes it so easy for oil and bacteria to build up underneath the frames

Glasses can also cause friction when they rub against your skin, leading to irritation and inflammation, while preventing your pores from breathing properly.

Since glasses are often a necessity, removing them frequently throughout the day may not be possible for you. If this is the case, here is what you can do to prevent breakouts from occurring:

  • Clean your glasses with antibacterial wipes at least once a day
  • When cleansing your skin, pay extra attention to the areas on which your glasses were sitting
  • Consider switching to contacts if you know for sure that your glasses are causing your breakouts


Stress directly impacts the skin in a number of different ways, and one of these is an increase in breakouts.

How does this work?

Well, when you are stressed, this triggers your body to release large amounts of cortisol. This is also known as the stress hormone, and works by providing your body with the energy needed in order to deal with the stress.

While this is great for short bursts of stress, chronic stress means that your body is experiencing a constant supply of cortisol, which is extremely detrimental for your skin.

Cortisol stimulates the oil glands to produce more testosterone, which then increases oil production and clogs up the pores, leading to acne

Trying to keep stress levels to a minimum is often easier said than done, but there are many methods of stress management that you can try:

  • Exercise – The endorphins that exercise creates has been proven to significantly lower stress levels
  • Meditation – Even simple breathing exercises can have a huge impact on stress levels
  • Hobbies – Doing something that you enjoy can really help to relax the mind and release stress
  • Writing – When you are feeling stressed, try spending just 10 minutes writing about it. By doing this, you will be able to keep track of your stressors, and therefore find coping strategies far quicker

Keep in mind that everybody deals with stress in different ways, so you may need to try out a few different stress management techniques before finding one that really works well for you.

Skipping Post-Workout Showers

If you tend to skip showering immediately after working out, then this could be one of the causes of your acne.


This causes the dirt, oil and bacteria that was already sitting on your skin to mix with your sweat, the combination of which then settles into your pores, resulting in breakouts.

Here is what you need to do before and after working out…

  • Before – make sure that your skin is as clean as possible
  • After – shower immediately after working out, or at least wash your face. If this is not possible, carry some cleansing wipes with you and give your face and your body a quick wipe.

Neglecting Sun Protection

Many people believe that exposing unprotected skin to the sun is actually good for acne, and their faces may even seem clearer afterwards. But this is not at all true…

So why does acne appear to be reduced after time in the sun?

Well, the sun causes your whole face to redden, and this means that any breakouts or blemishes will simply blend into your skin more. This creates the appearance of smoother skin, even though the acne has not been treated at all.

In fact, the sun actually does far more damage than good when it comes to breakouts…

The sun causes the skin to become dry, which therefore triggers your oil glands to start producing more oil, in order to compensate for this. As you know, this excess oil will only lead to more breakouts.

Sun protection is necessary throughout the year. Here are a few tips that you can follow:

  • Stay out of the sun during its hottest hours, usually between 11am to 3pm, depending on location
  • Wear a physical sunscreen rather than a chemical one, as these contain less chemicals and will not irritate your skin as much. Opt for one that contains either titanium dioxide or zinc.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed sun hat to give your face some extra protection

Dirty Makeup Brushes

How often do you clean your makeup brushes?

The correct answer is…

…at least once a week, although since you are prone to breakouts, you should try to do it more often.

Here is how to go about cleaning your brushes:

  • A Fast Clean

If you do not have much time to spare, then an alcohol-based brush cleanser is your best bet, as this will wash your brushes but dry quite quickly. Simply spritz the cleanser onto the brush and then wipe it down with a soft towel. Keep repeating this process until the brush leaves no residue on the towel.

TOP TIP: Avoid using tissues or paper towels for wiping your brush down, as these will leave tiny fibres behind on the hairs of your brush.

  • A Deeper Clean

If you would like to give your brushes a deeper clean, it would be worth purchasing a brush shampoo, but make sure that it contains gentle ingredients, so as not to damage the bristles. If your brushes are synthetic, just add a small drop of detergent to some warm water, and use this to wash your brushes.

  • Drying Your Brushes

To preserve your brushes for as long as possible, you need to give the drying process some extra care. Gently squeeze the wet brushes in a paper towel to soak up moisture, and then place them over the edge of a counter, so that the bristles are receiving 360 degrees circulation of air.

Vine Vera Surprising Causes of Breakouts brushes

There is nothing wrong with alternating the cleaning methods that you use, and this can, in fact, be quite convenient. Using a brush cleanser to do a quick clean twice a week, but then giving your brushes a deeper clean once a month, is all that you need to do to ensure that your makeup brushes do not contribute to your breakouts.

Are there any surprising causes of breakouts we’ve missed? Share your experience and let us know!

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Leave a comment:


  1. Posted by CarolynH, at Reply

    I’m sharing these tips with my teen to help prevent more stress related to blemishes.

  2. Posted by Robert Tschinkel, at Reply

    breakouts can occur at any age, and the advice in this article is just as relevant to men as well

  3. Posted by Kelly Wilson, at Reply

    Very informative

  4. Posted by lori gordon, at Reply

    im so looking forward to trying your producct…

  5. Posted by Patti Jarvie, at Reply

    Great info ! Thanks !

  6. Posted by Casey B, at Reply

    I have wiped my cell off with alcohol wipes for years! Great tips.

  7. Posted by melanie messing, at Reply

    good tips to prevent breakouts!

  8. Posted by Gabrielle, at Reply

    All of this is super smart advice. No matter how tired you are, you should NEVER go to bed without thoroughly washing your face.

  9. Posted by kathy m, at Reply

    This is really good advice, washing your hands after applying hair products! Easing the stress in your body especially at the holiday season is important also!

  10. Posted by Stephany Perry, at Reply

    Never realized cell phones carry that much bacteria.Thank you for the info

  11. Posted by Hope Krauel, at Reply

    Very good information

  12. Posted by Adrienne Zedella, at Reply

    I knew stress was a factor, but didn’t think about the cell phone and hair products!

  13. Posted by Cynthia I., at Reply

    I read some of the post and thought it was useful and interesting. I’m also entering the giveaway! Thank you!

  14. Posted by Wendy McBride, at Reply

    Very great info and remember to keep hands away from your face and no picking.

  15. Posted by Becky, at Reply

    I break out easily having graves disease messes with my hormans so bad.

  16. Posted by Stacy, at Reply

    Very informative

  17. Posted by gloria patterson, at Reply

    WOW things I never though about cleaning that I do use all the time. going to share this with some people that I know don’t realize like me

  18. Posted by Susan P., at Reply

    Thanks for all the information. I didn’t know about zinc being important for skin health.

  19. Posted by Jennifer H., at Reply

    I didn’t know that sugar could cause breakouts!

  20. Posted by John H., at Reply

    I didn’t know that dairy can cause breakouts.