Skin Care

What Causes Acne – 5 Reasons You’re Experiencing Breakouts

First and foremost, we need to define acne. According to Mayo Clinic, acne is a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles plug with oil and dead skin cells. It is a very common skin condition among teenagers and young adults. Even though acne is considered to be a skin condition there are other reasons why you may be experiencing breakouts. What causes acne you may ask? I have complied a list of 5 things that you may want to lookout for if you’re experiencing acne.

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What causes acne?

  • your smartphone
  • coffee
  • lack of sleep
  • using thick makeup foundation
  • makeup brushes

Your Smartphone May be Causing Your Acne

Think about it, you are on your phone every day you go from touching one thing to another to touching the screen of your device. We do a lot throughout the day but we take breaks in between to check our text messages, social media accounts, emails, blogs, articles, etc. However, we don’t think to clean the screen of our devices. So much happens on our screens every day and then we either place a phone call or receive a phone call and now everything on the surface of our device is on either the right or left side of our face.

It is important to clean your phone’s screen because all the bacteria on your screen is going to end up on your face. YUCK! More importantly, you do not want to get random breakouts on your cheeks when you only experience breakouts on your T-zone area.

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Therefore, to be on the safe side just clean your entire device. I usually clean my phone every night with alcohol because I have sensitive skin. Another thing I do to prevent my phone from being near my face is use my headset or place the call on speaker.

Your Coffee Intake May be a Contributing Factor

I was never a fan of drinking coffee until I got my first job after undergrad. However, I begin to notice small breakouts that were not part of my acne. I would only drink one cup of coffee every morning, however, my body was not used to it because I was 21 years old and beginning to drink coffee. As you may know, coffee contain a lot of caffeine, which dehydrates our bodies. Dehydrated skin causes inflammation and premature aging. Therefore, you need to drink water to flush this out of your system because if you don’t toxic can buildup on your skin and cause acne.

Additionally, you may substitute water or tea for coffee if you are looking for something to drink to replace your morning coffee. This is not to say that you need to stop automatically drinking coffee it’s just something that you may need to limit.

Sleep Deprivation Causes Acne

Have you ever noticed that when you sleep late, your skin actually produces more sebum, and this may be the result for your new acne. A lack of sleep can also lead to stress which can also cause acne. Getting plenty of sleep is important to keep you immune system properly functioning and assist in keeping your acne under control.

You may also want to put your phone down an hour or two prior to going to sleep. There is a study by Harvard researchers that indicate that it will take you longer to fall asleep, it will mess with and delay your circadian clock rhythm, you will feel more tired and less alert when you wake up. However, lack of sleep may not be the cause of your acne and there may be other factors to consider.

Your Makeup Foundation Could be Causing Breakouts

Depending on your skin types you may be using a thick foundation that is leading to breakouts. Makeup can often cause acne because of the ingredients used. Furthermore, some ingredients can cause acne-triggering or pore-clogging. Additionally, if you have oily skin and are acne-prone you may want to lay off on the thick foundations because it will only make your cause more shiny around the T-zone. This means that you will need to use blotting paper and get rid of the excess oil.

Thick foundations clog your pores, therefore, you may want to trade it for a lightweight foundation for daily use. When I had acne I would not dare use any makeup foundation on my skin. Instead, I used powder makeup which did not cause my skin to breakout anymore than it already had. I knew my skin type and what actually worked and did not work for it. I really love the look foundation gives but during my acne phase I knew it was best to stay away from it.

Your Makeup Brushes Could be to Blame for

Since we’re on the topic of makeup I will also include makeup brushes on the list. Seriously ladies, you have to clean your makeup brushes to prevent buildup of the products you’re using. I clean all of my brushes after each use with a cloth that I have specifically for the different types of brushes that I own. However, once a week I wash all of my brushes. Just think about all the bacteria that accumulates throughout the week on your makeup brushes.

However, most experts recommend that you wash your brushes at least once a week to keep bacteria at bay. If you regularly suffer from acne, you might consider washing or cleaning them after each use. Also, makeup brushes cost a pretty penny so you need to be careful how you take care of them.

There Could be Other Factors Causing Your Acne

I am in no way a dermatologist, however, these were some tips that my dermatologist gave to me when I begin to seek treatment for my skin. If you are experiencing acne and no matter what products you use it’s still there you may need to set up an appointment with a dermatologist to find out what it is you need.

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If you have any questions or would like to offer any insight you have gotten over the years (from your personal experiences), please leave a comment below. I would love to hear all about it!

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  1. Tammy kuppinger says:

    EWWWW!!!! I didn’t think about my phone causing acne!!! You’re right though!!!! Wow! You hit on very common items that I never thought about before! Great article!!

    1. Hi Tammy,

      That was exactly my reaction when I was told to make sure my screen was clean. I hope these 5 reasons help you. Thank you so much for your feedback.

  2. Donna Hickey says:


    I would have never dreamed of your phone, coffee, makeup brushes would cause acne. You did your research. I did like the part that if no matter what product you use and don’t get results to consult a dermatologist.

    1. Hi Donna,

      Yes, it’s the little things that we use or do on the daily that causes acne. Thank you so much!

  3. Larry says:

    This is a very interesting article. I remember I was a teen and my parents took me to the doctor for acne and some medical students were called in to check it out and they diagnosed me with leprosy. Very embarrassing for a young teen age boy being observed by what appeared to be 5 doctors and then told that. Great info and if you do other research on other illnesses make sure to google inflammation + “what ever disease” because you will find that inflammation is the cause of many diseases. Have a great day and thanks again.

    1. Thank you for your advice Larry. Oh my, I can only imagine how you felt being in a room with not just one doctor but four medical students. I hope everything worked out for you!

  4. Theresa says:

    I always blamed acne on junk food or dirty hands. Coffee surprises me; I never would have guessed that one. I’ll have to mention that to my daughter. She has occasional breakouts. I suppose that could be from sleep deprivation as well. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Theresa,

      Junk food and dirty hands may cause acne, however, there are many factors one may need to consider. Yes, please let her know to see if that works for her. Thank you for reading.

  5. christopher says:

    what a fantastic article. I never knew your smartphone could be a cause of acne. incredible information and extremely educational. My friends daughter has a bad case of acne. I will be referring her to your site so she can educate herself. Thank you for being so passionate in your writing. I truly made me want to keep reading the article.

    1. Hi Christopher,

      Thank you so much for your feedback. Yes, please share this post with her and others that are dealing with acne. Thank you for taking time to read my post.

  6. Amanda Blaine says:

    I never thought about the phone being a cause of outbreaks, how true! Another one that surprised me although really it should of, was the make up brushes. Great information here!

    1. Hi Amanda,

      Yes, dirty phone screens are an issue especially when dealing with acne. Cleaning your makeup brushes is also very important.

  7. Well that explains a LOT. I check 3 of the boxes (only because I don’t wear makeup). Thanks for this, I have to go clean my phone

    1. Hi Nate,

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you are able to relate to my post.

  8. I never actually considered that my phone could contain bacteria, but it definitely makes sense now that you mention it. It’s quite disgusting, to be honest.

    Besides the fact that you touch your phone all the time throughout the day, it also tends to get warm sometimes. Bacteria LOVES that.

    I 100% agree. Clean your phone. And do it often!

    Thanks for this advice. It’s funny how things are staring us straight in the face without us noticing sometimes, haha.

    1. Hi Mike,

      Thank you! Yes, the phone screen one took me by surprise when I first found out about it. Therefore, I am trying to inform others that may not know about this. Additionally, there are so many factors that can contribute to it but the more informed we are the better decisions we will make.

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