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Lifestyle Choices that Trigger Acne

Here is a list of products and lifestyle choices that can trigger an acne breakout:

  • Fabric Softener

Do not use this in the washer and/or the dryer (no dryer sheets). The waxy residue gets on your pillowcases, towels, wash cloths, and sheets that have direct contact with the skin. The residue will clog pores of acne-prone individuals. If you want something to stop static cling in your dryer, you can get anti-static balls at Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, or online.

  • Detergent

Detergents with fragrance can cause skin irritation. Best to use fragrance-free such as Cheer Free, All Free & Clear, Tide Free, and Arm & Hammer Free.

  • Water Softeners

There is some evidence that water softeners can lead to acne, especially those containing high amounts of potassium chloride.

  • Swimming Pool Disinfectants

It contains iodides and chlorine which can remain in the water, causing skin problems for frequent swimmers. We advise applying a thin layer of Vaseline before you get in the pool.

  • Sun Exposure

Although sun exposure causes desirable scaling and drying, it also damages the follicle, exacerbates dark spots, and causes skin cancer as well as premature aging. Always wear your sunscreen, even if it’s overcast and/or raining.

  • Hand Lotions

If you are using a comedogenic hand lotion and then leaning your face on your hands (many do this in front of the computer) or sleeping on your hands, this could contribute to your acne.

  • Breakouts Around Your Mouth Area?

Many lip balms, toothpastes, and even facial tissues have comedogenic ingredients in them. So, if you see breakouts around your mouth area, this is possibly why. We recommend Vaseline or Aquaphor for a lip balm and toothpaste without SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate). Many well-known tissue brands are infused with things like coconut oil, isopropyl myristate, and SLS, all of which will clog the pores.

  • Picking or Squeezing

Instead, rub ice on pustules and pimples for a couple of minutes, twice a day. IMPORTANT: if you pick, squeeze, and break the skin, that scab will leave a red or dark mark that will be there for months, making your skin look WAY worse than if you left it alone.

  • Birth Control and Hormone Replacement

Forms of birth control that contain low doses of estrogen can be higher in androgen hormones, and that combination may aggravate acne-prone skin. Certain forms of birth control are FDA approved to treat acne. Please speak with your doctor about the birth control method that will be best for you. You should also familiarize yourself with the benefits and risks of any birth control. Please see the Birth Control for Acne Simplified handout for more detailed information. Progesterone hormone replacements can be problematic. If you have polycystic ovaries, they can cause hormonal changes and breakouts.

  • Recreational and Prescription Drugs Recreational drugs

Marijuana, cocaine, speed, and steroids used by bodybuilders Prescription drugs – topical and oral steroids, anticonvulsants, Lithium, thyroid meds, Quinine, Isoniazid, Imuran, Danazol, Gonadotrophin, Cyclosporin, Disulfuram, Phentermine, ADD/ADHD drugs. See handout if you want more information. Chemicals Coal tars (roofers), grease (mechanics, cooks, waiters), chlorinated industrial chemicals, dioxin.


This is being provided for informational purposes only. This is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Polished on Pleasant is not offering advice, recommending, or endorsing any specific prescription drug, pharmacy or other information on the site. Polished on Pleasant provides no warranty for any information. Please seek medical advice before starting, changing or terminating any medical treatment.


This guide was written by our favorite trusted brand Face Reality.

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