11 Surprising Causes of Acne You Should Know About

causes of acne
by Samantha

We know that things like dairy, stress, and hormones can all contribute to and worsen acne. But even the less obvious things can result in acne, such as:

  • Sleep quality
  • Deficiencies
  • Hair products
  • New medications

As I list the surprising causes of acne below you might be feeling overwhelmed with how little things can impact your skin in big ways.

Don’t worry, I’ve got your back - with Skin Tips to help you get your skin on track!

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Surprising causes of acne


Sleep is called beauty rest for a reason. Sleep is an important time for our skin to repair and regenerate, and when we skimp out it can cause a whole bunch of skin and acne problems. Not only is sleep important for our skin to function, but it’s also necessary for hormone production and regulation.

Skin Tip: Doing things that are relaxing before bed, as well as having a good bedtime routine, can help you have a more restful night and clearer skin in the morning.


Deficiencies in any number of macro and micronutrients can result in acne. For example, following a low-fat diet can be detrimental to your skin’s overall health. Studies show that people with acne tend to have lower levels of zinc, for example.

Skin Tip: Follow an acne-friendly diet and check in regularly with Cronometer!


Do you find that you rest your face on your hand, or just touch your face a lot? Then it’s probably one of the dirtiest parts of your body. Touching adds bacteria and other debris to the skin which only causes more acne problems.

Skin Tip: Keep your hands occupied. Get a toy that you can play with when youre most likely to touch your skin.


The things we do for beauty. Whether it’s waxing, tweezing, shaving or creams, hair removal can cause swelled skin and microtears, which enables bacteria to get deep into the pores to create inflamed pimples. Although it is sometimes true acne, it is also sometimes a rash caused by other issues.

Skin Tip: Thoroughly clean areas before hair removal and consider using gentle products. Hydrocortisone and other spot treatments may help.


Have you ever heard of consort acne? It’s basically acne caused by kissing and being close with someone. Their hair and skin products, as well as the oils, dead skin and dirt from their skin, can transfer to yours during kissing and cuddling, and even if using the same pillow case. This one you really can blame on your significant other!

Skin Tip: Ask your partner if they’re willing to change up their products. Otherwise, be diligent about cleansing after a good make-out sesh, and don’t share pillows or other hygienic items.


This might seem like an insignificant risk with small effects – but you’d be wrong. One of the worst breakouts I ever got was due to a new toothpaste. Although it can be the result of fluoride or SLS in specific, there is any number of irritating ingredients in toothpaste that could be the cause.

Skin Tip: Switch up your toothpaste and try not to get any on your skin. Rinse with salt water afterward.


Your water quality determines the type of success you’ll have with your skincare routine. Things like washing your face and showering should be helping your skin, but with hard water and other water issues, this could be the opposite of what it’s doing.

Skin Tip: How you handle water issues will depend; you may need a water softener or filter, or you may prefer a waterless cleanser.


Yep, even hair products can cause acne. Called pomade acne, this happens when our heavy hair products seep down onto our faces. It’s mostly found along the hairline. but can stretch out to other areas, too.

Skin Tip: Apply your hair care products conservatively and avoid the hairline. Try to cleanse your face after, or wipe along the hairline.


Is nothing sacred anymore? Even the air we breathe can be full of harmful particles that can cause all kinds of damage to your skin – including inflammation that causes acne.

Skin Tip: Cleanse daily, moisturize, and protect your skin with sunscreen ALWAYS.


Have you flown on a plane recently? Taken a road trip? Travel can be a major cause of breakouts for many people – everything from the change in temperature, climate, humidity, food, water, and stress levels can all amalgamate together to create one, big acne nightmare.

Skin Tip: Make sure to follow our skin care tips for travel to ensure your skin doesn’t freak out the next time you hop on a plane.


Yep, drug-induced acne is a real thing, and a lot of people on anxiety and depression medications know this all too well. Every medication affects the body differently, and new medications have the potential to cause stress on the nervous system, elevate hormones, and affect parts of our body responsible for regulating our skin.

Skin Tip: Consult with your physician before making any changes to your medications.

All in all, these surprising causes of acne can end up creating a bit of a disaster for our skin. Everyone will react slightly differently to each stressor, so not all of these causes of acne will be relevant to you. Hopefully this has given you some insight into how small, seemingly insignificant things like kissing your beau can result in acne.

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