Many of our clients struggle with acnegenic skin. We've seen it all: blackheads, whiteheads, cystic acne, papular acne, forehead bumps, pimples around the mouth, mild to severe, male and female, tween to adult. No matter what type of acne you have - you want it gone. But to properly treat your breakouts, it's helpful first to know the cause.

Generally speaking, acneic skin is caused by excess sebum and dead skin cells plugging hair follicles. In doing so, bacteria is trapped, causing inflammation and infection and eventually forming a whiteheadblind pimple, or cystic zit. But it's what takes place before this reaction that interests us. Of course, there are a handful of common acne triggers like picking and popping (BTW, don't), but the sneaky catalysts behind blemished skin may surprise you. Here are the top six unsuspecting causes of adult acne.

1. Stress and the Mind-Skin Connection

Here's a frustrating negative feedback loop you might be experiencing: you're stressed about your acne, so your acne responds to your stress and, in turn, worsens, then you're more stressed about more acne. Our skin is a fantastic communicator. Ever notice an adult acne flare-up around a work deadline? An increase in fine lines and dark under-eye circles when you're not sleeping well? A sallow, gaunt look to the skin when going through a difficult time? These are not just signs of aging; stress and anxiety can have long-term effects on skinPsychodermatology studies have shown that depression, anxiety, stress, and other psychological issues can affect outward appearance so decreasing stress levels may be the secret ingredient to healthy, glowy skin. Check out our 6 Evidence-Based Benefits of Regular Meditation and make friends with your acne! A radiant glow starts from the inside so learn to love the skin you're in - spots and all 💛


2. Dairy In Your Diet

A glass of milk

We used to think acne was caused by greasy food and chocolate. Fortunately, this is not the case, "... The largest study, involving 65 patients, compared the effects of chocolate consumption to placebo over a four-week period, and found no difference in acne severity." We also know that alcohol is not directly responsible for acne, although dehydration caused by alcohol consumption doesn't help your skin. Research does, however, suggest a direct link between a diet high in dairy and acne. It's something we've witnessed time and time again here in the shop - a client has experienced a skin transformation by cutting dairy out of their diets. Food for thought ... 


3. Changing Hormones 

Pre-period breakouts, anyone? Fluctuating estrogen and progesterone are common causes of adult acne. This includes changes in hormones from starting or stopping birth control and during pregnancy or menopause. Talk to your doctor for support in balancing hormones during these shifts, and don't forget to up the self-care around these times. 


4. A Dirty Pillowcase

Even if you're religious about face washing before bed (gold stars for you!), dead skin cells build up on your pillowcase every night. And if you really smush your face into your pillow, you're getting an extra dirty hit of that bacteria buildup. Wash your pillowcases, facecloths, and reusable cotton rounds regularly (like, every three days) with an acne-proof laundry detergent


5. Your Genetic Disposition

Ouufff, this is a tough one. Research shows that genetics significantly impact your chances of having acne, and if both parents had acne, the chances you'll have it ... doubles. A family history of acne is out of your control, but while you patiently wait for blemishes to vacate - fake it till you make it!


6. The Wrong Skincare

We know by now that not all skincare is created equal. We also know that higher costs don't necessarily mean higher efficacy or ingredient quality. Weeding through the abundance of clean skincare options is a big part of what we do at The Green Kiss; reading the labels for ingredients that won't clog pores or stimulate excess oil production is what we do for fun. We often welcome guests who have been sold a chemical-rich acne product, which appeared to be working at first, but ultimately took their acne from bad to worse. Your skin wants to reach homeostasis. It will ramp up its oil production to offset dryness from these harsh chemicals, and you're back where you started. Instead of stripping acne-prone skin, watch what happens when you nourish it. Calming the epidermis with gentle ingredients and feeding healthy oils back into the skin is just the ticket. We know that skin needs topical product changes based on the hormonal cycle, time of year, age, external stressors, etc. So listen to your skin and switch up your skincare products accordingly. 

Our Takeaway

A woman washing her face with a clean skincare routineObviously the most important finding in our research is that chocolate and wine do NOT cause acne. Unfortunately, it's more complicated than that. While there isn't anything you can do to change your genetic predisposition, there are many effective acne treatments in the clean beauty space. For the most part, treating acne is a long game where patience and self-love are the best medicine. However, with the help of a smart skincare routine, you can combat acne at any age. If you're lucky to live with us here in Victoria, pop into our brick-and-mortar for a complimentary custom skin analysis. All Green Kiss Educators are well-versed in skincare concerns and our product lineup and will topically guide you based on your skin condition or skin type. Or you can email us to set up a virtual skincare consultation. We are here to help you take care of you!


All copy found on The Green Kiss website is written for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health provider's advice with questions regarding a medical condition.