It’s always been said that beauty reflects your internal health, and that the condition of your skin reflects what’s happening on the inside. This couldn’t be more true. Whether it’s hormones, stress at work getting you down, skincare products throwing off the balance of your skin, or the inner workings of your body manifesting as breakouts, there are numerous causes of acne. If you’re scratching your head at why you can’t seem to clear those pesky blemishes, read on as we deep dive into six common, yet often overlooked, causes of acne.  

1. You Have Poor Gut health 
Our gut is a complex organ with a microbiome containing millions of different bacteria and other microorganisms. When the balance of our gut microbiome is thrown off, possible by the food we are eating, this is often represented on our skin. Nutritional therapists explain that this is because our gut regulates toxins and waste and prevents it from reaching the blood and skin. However, when our gut microbiome is off-kilter, it may allow harmful, acne-causing toxins to affect the skin.

2. You’re Stressed
When your body is stressed, it has a very basic biological response to release the hormone cortisol, which puts your body into a state of emergency. Unfortunately, our bodies haven’t evolved to tell the difference between having to run for our lives and when we are just running behind on an important work assignment. This means that instead of expending energy on things like keeping your skin clear, it focuses on basic bodily functions like temperature regulation and fat storage. You can treat stress acne like you would treat hormonal acne, with exfoliation like salicylic acid and hydration. Of course, the best treatment is always by reducing stressors in your life.  

3. You Have Nutritional Deficiencies
Whether it’s due to your diet or other health issues, a lack of nutrients could be the reason you’re breaking out. Our skin is kept balanced by several vitamins and minerals. There is a reason that Vitamin A, Vitamin C, B Vitamins, Zinc, and Vitamin E are seen so often as key ingredients in skincare products - they are essential to a healthy skin barrier free from clogged pores and breakouts.  Addressing the issue at the root will help clear your skin, think more colourful fruits and veggies with every meal. In the meantime, incorporating skincare products with these powerful vitamins can help rebalance your skin.  

4. You’re Over Exfoliating 
Again, this relates to your skin's microbiome. When you overuse exfoliating products or scrub your face too hard or too regularly, you disrupt the balance of your skin's microbiome and its ability to prevent breakouts. Start holding packs on those peels or scrubs, they have their place in our skincare routines but overusing them can do more harm than good. Try a very gentle scrub or exfoliating mask instead. 

5. You’re Using Comedogenic Beauty Products
Some of the makeup you’re using in an attempt to cover up your acne or maybe even skincare that you think should be helping, may contain comedogenic or ‘pore-clogging’ ingredients. Some of the most common culprits are coconut oil, cocoa butter, and dimethicone, so if you’re prone to breakouts you may want to watch out for these ingredients. 

6. You’re Chronically Dehydrated
It's no secret that drinking plenty of water each day is important for so many bodily functions, including our skin. Dehydration can materialise on our skin in many ways including dullness, fine lines and crepiness, and of course acne. Alcoholic drinks can quickly dehydrate you, as well as salty foods. Although it’s not the solution any of us want to hear, cutting back on some of these things while upping your water intake should get you back on track.  

October 10, 2022 — Nadja Iman