How Your Lifestyle Might Be Causing Your Acne

Treating acne seems pretty straightforward, right? Find the right anti-acne treatments, apply them consistently and achieve clear skin. Unfortunately, the reality is much more complicated. 

If you still find yourself breaking out despite consistent use of anti-acne products, there might be something else that’s triggering your acne. It could be your lifestyle, your diet, your skincare products, or perhaps even your makeup. 

When testing skincare formulations on myself, I discovered many ingredients that did not agree with my skin and triggered my face’s oil production into overdrive. Skincare is extremely personal, so we need to pay close attention to all of these factors to address acne holistically and achieve clear skin.

In this article, we will be looking at some of the most common lifestyle habits that might cause or exacerbate acne — and how you can identify which habits might be causing your acne.

Sleeping Habits

There’s a reason why we call it “beauty sleep”. Adults need 7 – 9 hours of sleep for our body to function at its best. When we have a lack of sleep, our body releases more Cortisol, which is a steroid that makes your skin more oily and increases inflammation that makes acne worse.

At the same time, you should aim to hit the sheets at around 10 to 11pm. You might think that your total sleep hours matter more than when you go to bed, but according to neurologist W. Christopher Winter M.D., this is not the case. He goes on to explain that although growth hormones are released during the first 3 hours of sleep, secretion of said hormone crashes once we reach 2am. Ideally, you’d want to maximise your body’s natural restorative capabilities by sleeping before 2am.

Chronic Stress

Continual stress may lead to or make existing acne breakouts worse. Although stress might not directly lead to acne, it is linked to factors that create ideal conditions for breakouts to occur. Just like a lack of sleep, chronic stress increases our body’s production of Cortisol. Increasing our skin’s oil production which mixes with dead skin cells — causing pores to clog and lead to acne.

Bad Hygiene

If you have a habit of picking at your acne, stop! Popping pimples potentially causes bacteria to go deeper into the pore. Even worse, your fingers are the perfect vehicle for germs, oil and dirt to hitch a ride, spread to the rest of your face and settle directly into your pores. 

Failing to cleanse your skin of oil, dirt and cosmetics before bed is also a surefire way to clog your pores and increase the chances of a breakout.

A mummy was asking us why her son’s bacne did not get better after using Skinlycious for a month. After some probing, we found out that her son comes home and naps in his dirty clothes, even when he’s sweaty after exercising in school. We advised her to ask her son to wipe down his back with a wet towel immediately after exercising in school shower immediately when he reaches home. True enough, his bacne cleared up after observing better hygiene.

How The Location of Your Acne Might Correlate with Your Lifestyle

With all the potential causes and factors, it can be difficult to say for sure if lifestyle habits are the cause for your acne. However, if you find that your breakouts only occur at a certain area, then there may be a correlation worth looking at.

Acne on Cheeks

If you are a side sleeper with consistent acne on cheek you lie on, chances are your pillow case is not clean. Take note of when you last changed your pillow case, and get into the habit of changing it once or twice weekly. 

Otherwise, take a look at the items you use daily to see if any of them could be spreading bacteria to your face. A common culprit is our phones. If you’re on a call a lot, your phone could be picking up oil and dirt and spreading it onto your cheeks.

Also, those who frequently use hair oil to maintain long hair may find their hair coming into contact with their cheeks throughout the day, causing the oil to stay on your cheeks and cause clogged pores. 

Acne on Forehead and Hairline

Because of their close proximity, acne on the forehead or near the hairline is typically caused by oils in your hair or hair products. If you keep a fringe, the oils from your hair may spread and settle onto your skin, causing clogged pores. 

For men, sweat and perspiration on your head can cause your hair wax or gel to trickle down to your forehead, clogging pores in the process. It happened to one of our customers, who is a fitness instructor. After switching to another brand of hair gel, new pimples stopped popping out on his forehead.  

Acne on Chin and Jawline

Acne that occurs on the chin and jawline are typically hormonal or diet-related. So the best way to tackle acne at this location is to ensure you’re getting enough rest and relaxation to keep your hormones regulated and in-check. Make sure you are getting your 7 – 9 hours of sleep and sleeping at 10 to 11pm! 

For diet-related acne, read more here.

Body Acne / Bacne

While rich body washes might feel luxurious, they often contain ingredients that tend to clog pores and lead to acne. If you get body acne and suspect your body wash might be the culprit, switch your body wash for a non-comedogenic one and observe if it makes a difference over the next few weeks.

If you work out often, delaying your shower after working out gives time for build-up of sweat and dirt to settle and clog your pores. Shower immediately after working out so acne-causing bacteria can be washed away. If you really have no time or facility to shower, at least wipe down your body with a wet towel.

Your clothes can also cause body acne, especially if they are not clean. Back or shoulder acne for example, can be caused by backpacks pressing clothes onto your skin. If your clothes are not clean, the oil and dirt on your clothes could be coming into contact with your skin throughout the day.


It’s easy to be too focused on anti-acne treatments and products when it comes to acne. To achieve and maintain clear, acne-free skin, it’s important to find and tackle acne at its root cause rather than its symptoms. The contributing factors for acne differ from person to person and it is up to you to find the best multi-faceted approach to treating acne. Best of luck!

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