You wake up in the morning feeling great, and then you look in the mirror. Whoomp, there is is – a big ol’ zit staring you in the face. “Nooooooooo!” you yell. “Why am I breaking out???”

If you ask me, there are five possible reasons. So excuse me while I offer some skin care tips all from my own experience.

1. Because you haven’t been cleaning off your makeup at night. I am SO guilty of this.

I have a collection of cleansing oils by my bedside — Shu Uemura and Bobbi Brown are my faves! — but I admit, some nights I do just fall into bed without removing the layer of shellack on my face. The next day I wake up with dark circles under my eyes thanks to leftover mascara, and a zit on my cheek. Take the time to wash your face at night, slather on a delicious night cream or serum — I like Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate and Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate. Your skin will thank you.

2. Because you haven’t been drinking enough water. Sad but true – I am not a fan of H2O. Finally, I’m managing to wean myself away from powdered additives but I’m still struggling to get those eight glasses in every day. Recently I recieved the Count Me Healthy bracelet — an elegant, sterling silver piece of jewelry that is meant to be a “health journal for your wrist.” I’ve been using it to remind myself to get those 8 glasses in every day, and seeing that visual guilt trip on my wrist really has helped. Next I plan to get a beautiful pitcher and start making water cocktails with mint and cucumber. I’m gonna learn to love the taste of water by this summer, watch me — it’s simply too healthy to not enjoy. The benefits it’ll bestow to my body and my skin are immeasurable.

3. Because you’re using products that aren’t working for you. I don’t do many skin care reviews here on Afrobella and there’s a reason for that…because I find very few absolute must-have skin care products. I review lots of face washes and serums behind the scenes, but very few wow me to the point where I feel compelled to shout about them to the rooftops. These days it’s all about my Clarisonic plus my daily cleanser of choice — right now it’s Goldfaden, because I just ran out of 3Lab’s Perfect Cleanser. By day I use Jolie MD. Keeping it simple helps.

4. Because you haven’t washed your makeup brushes in…how long?? I know I need to keep my brushes clean…but I forget. Then I get lazy. Argh, it’s a neverending struggle. But when I DO wash my brushes, I’m always amazed by how filthy they are, and I’m always happy I took the time and effort to do a good job. Brilliant brow guru, makeup maven and friend o’ mine Rashida B says you shouldn’t go more than 2 weeks without washing your brushes, and veteran makeup genius Sam Fine uses plain ol’ Dawn dishwashing soap. So there are no excuses because you don’t have * insert $40 bottle of brush cleaner here *.

5. Your hormones. Duh. I can time my breakouts by my hormonal cycle. If Aunt Flo is knockin’ on my door, you can bet your bottom dollar I’m gonna have some major eruptions on my face, and most likely on my back. This has been a fact of life for me, and I’ve learned some tricks to reduce the problem. Right around the time when I expect my period, I use a clay mask — Lush’s Mask of Magnaminty is one of my faves. the exfoliating and balancing masks by Chella are also AMAZING, albeit expensive. And throughout my period I make sure to keep my face clean, drink lots of water, and eat lots of fruit and veggies. And when I do break out (note, I said WHEN and not IF, because it totally happens anyway) – it’s Mario Badescu to the rescue! They’ve got a new Anti Acne Serum I’m dying to try. The Drying Lotion is incredible, but because of the calamine it can only be worn out of the public view.

Those are my top 5 breakout issues. What are yours? How do you combat acne?

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