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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Sunny says:
April 20, 2010, 6:34 am
You've hit the nail on the head for me... I'm very prone to break outs, but have noticed for the past month, my skin has been unbelievably clear. I've done nothing different, I've actually decreased my water intake immensely (it was a struggle to drink it anyway)... My change must be attributed to a new b.c pill my gyno had me try- Mononessa.... I'll take it. lol P.S. This is no excuse to not drink water (just because my face is clear now), I know I need to get on it!
sungoddess says:
April 20, 2010, 6:53 am
I think my pimples of late have been the cause of a not properly functioning gall bladder to be honest. I only ever got period-pimples until it became an issue. Now I think because my liver & gallbladder are have some issues, I believe it's showing up on my face... trying to work on that.
Beverly says:
April 20, 2010, 8:12 am
Regular professional facials. When I used to have them done regularly my skin looked great. Just a good scrub, extractions and a mask in a spa ambiance. Guess you could do them at home too. Not even hormones affected me to any great extent. Now that I have fallen off the train somewhat I can see the big difference.
Beverly says:
April 20, 2010, 8:16 am
btw.. this was soo up my alley this morning. I woke up and lo and behold, huge, huge zit on my forehead. *sigh*
Chatty Patty says:
April 20, 2010, 9:27 am
I've been having this issue big time for the last couple of months now. I haven't had this bad of a breakout since I was in high school, and now I am 30 and I feel like I've living in a time machine. My acne has been controlled by changing my cleanser, changing my pillows, and talking on speaker phone when using the instead of holding it next to my face. What's left now is horrible acne scars. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed and making an appointment to get a facial.
Carol says:
April 20, 2010, 9:31 am
I think the older I get, having just passed the 30 line, I have noiticed significant changes in my skin. This post is awesome. The Clarsonic has become probably the most important part of my daily cleansing ritual.
Sheena says:
April 20, 2010, 10:25 am
Wonderful tips! I think the reason I break out is a combination of all 5--and when I do breakout, I pay for it dearly. I really want to buy a Clarsonic system as I've heard that it works wonders for your skin, too. Until then, I'll have to work on not committing the other deadly skin sins.
Tdotcurlie says:
April 20, 2010, 11:49 am
I also suffer from hormonal acne and breakouts from not properly cleansing my skin. I read about the oil cleansing method, and now do that most nights (with castor oil) and just water and witch hazel in the mornings, and my skin has improved dramatically. I hardly breakout now. I have had several comments and compliments on my skin in the past 2 months. Soo happy
Rochelle aka @mcmtownhall says:
April 20, 2010, 12:17 pm
i'm blessed with beautiful skin. but, i certainly need to do more in the skincare department if i want this skin to be as beautiful as my mother and her sisters' skin at 60+. i'll take your recs into consideration as i do.
Phyrra says:
April 20, 2010, 1:56 pm
I break out from stress :( Right now I'm under a _lot_ of stress and I don't see an end in sight. I'm trying to counter it by drinking more water, since I'm having trouble sleeping and eating. Bleh. I'm also using really gentle cleansers and calming serums.
Athena says:
April 20, 2010, 3:09 pm
I had a crazy problem with acne for years that only started to clear up a few months ago. The main things that I learned about why my skin was breaking out was: 1. I wasn't drinking enough water or eating enough fruits. 2. I was taking multivitamins daily that contained iodine. A little bit of research told me that excess amounts of iodine can cause the skin to overproduce oil which leads to breakouts. 3. I took a good look at the ingredients of the products that I was using and after some more research, realized that a lot of these companies claim to make products that are oil free and non-comedogenic when they're not. This ranges from skin care to cosmetics. Finding out which ingredients were actually good for my skin was a huge eye opener and I was lucky enough to find an all natural cleanser and moisturizer that does the job well and that can actually back up the company's claims. There are a lot of things that I can't use now but my skin looks a lot better for it.
Clara says:
April 20, 2010, 3:22 pm
I have been having the WORST skin trouble ever.I have these tiny rashes all over my face. Even the visit to the derm did not work.I am so frustrated.
Nicole J. Butler says:
April 20, 2010, 5:26 pm
I've found one more reason: Hair products!! It's so easy to forget that all the stuff you've put in your hair to keep your 'do done ends up on your pillow at night, and can be very unkind to your face. Once I started either washing my hair at night or tying it up, the occurrence breakouts decreased significantly.
sandra says:
April 20, 2010, 7:33 pm
_I keep my hand out of my face during the day...this works. 2) As soon as I get home, I take off all makeup and make sure to use an astringent. 3)the face needs exfoliation too...use an exfoliating masque regularly. 4) as far as water get a water bottle with a straw...put ice in can drink much more than drinking it out of a glass. try it and let me know. thank you for the post
Silver Pearls says:
April 20, 2010, 8:45 pm
I would also add stress to the table. Whatever is happening on the inside eventually makes its way to the outside. So, its advisable to end the day with a nice excercise session, bible study, tea and the sunset or a good show. I break out from everything you mentioned plus stress! If only there were another way to ingest water. LOL!
Mel says:
April 21, 2010, 6:00 am
i suffer from ingrown hairs. i do NOT know if any of you experience this travesty against skin but due to having corser hair, my chin folicals are a straight-up mess! I end up 1. having hair there (evilness) and 2. when i either have them professionally removed via a facial or self-cleansing (plucking) I am aflicted with an ingrown hair pimple. Its awful. After they have finally healed, I am left with scars, scars and more scars. Seriously... its awful. So I end up having to use Murad lightening products that seem to work. If anyone has any other products that actually work with reducing the pigmentation of the scar, please let me know. Please note Ambi does not work, and other products have also proven to be less than *fruitful*. I'm enroute to trying the new Clinique line so we shall see if that works, and I will let you all know. Oh and I rarely EVER get pimples except for on my cheeks (go figure) and the ingrown hairs which I think are WORSE than pimples.
paradisebird says:
April 21, 2010, 6:22 am
As I got older fortunately the breakout issue has lessen a bit, but on bad-beauty days I have to deal with pimples AND wrinkles as well. Grrr. Both(!) are avoidable if (I am a sucker at both) I consume enough organic fruits and veggies and water. And switching between cleansing creme and cleansing scrub does the trick, too. But mostly it is about what I put in my body then which lotion and potion I use on the outside. I swear by the Weleda line (wild rose). I am not sure if they are available in the US. The moisturizer and the night cream are amazing!
Nikki Jane says:
April 21, 2010, 8:49 am
Someone up there mentioned using witch hazel. I've been using it for the last 3 or 4 months (thanks to my grandma) and my skin has cleared up dramatically. I usually exfoliate 1 a week and I use Aveeno with spf 30 to moisturize. I find the less I use on my face the better.
Dasheen Magazine says:
April 21, 2010, 10:43 am
Great post Bella! Right now, I am so in the middle of a breakout mess. I think mine is due to a combo of stress, the heat of O-Town + Oil and being a bit of a product junkie. I was on a perfectly nice regimen and then I just had to have something different. So right now I am back to basics and I pray my skin will forgive me sooner rather than later. btw: the count me healthy bracelet sounds awesome! Lord knows I need a 'visual guilt trip' or a miracle to drink H2O.
UnalteredBeauty says:
April 21, 2010, 10:14 pm
I FINALLY bought the Clarisonic brush two weeks ago. I've been wanting one since 2008! Anyhoo, I definitely see and feel a noticeable difference in my skin. My face feels cleaner; it doesn't feel tight and dry when I wash it; and get this-- my skin now has a natural glow thanks to both the brush and my facial cleanser (Cetaphil or MaryKay TimeWise). This glow wasn't there weeks ago. I actually went without makeup the other day and got a compliment. I'll keep you all posted with my skin results and the brush. Keep in mind, it's only been two weeks. For us bellas who are too lazy to take our makeup off at night, I'd suggest buying facial cleasing cloths/wipes and keeping them on your nightstand. That way, you can just roll over, and wipe your face off.
UnalteredBeauty says:
April 21, 2010, 10:23 pm
Oh! One more thing-- since using the brush, the moisture level of my skin seems more balanced. My skin does not get as oily throughout the day. I haven't had to use my oil absorbing tissues once since using this brush! True story, ya'll.
Sheree says:
April 22, 2010, 4:34 pm
My skin has never been better thanks to a new product called Metamorphosis by JolieMD I thought I had to live with adult acne and scarring. My zits were so bad they turned cystic. I wore Mac concealer and studio fix (very heavy) to even my skin. After several months on Jolie MD, I hardly ever wear any make up. My skin is blemish free and clear. I even use the product on my elbows, armpits and bikini line for even color.
Jennifer says:
April 22, 2010, 4:49 pm
Since puberty I had problems with breakouts, acne and hyper-pigmentation, after 2 pregnancies the problem was out of control. I started using Metamorphosis by JolieMD a few months back and within weeks my skin was less oily, breakouts were less frequent and I could see hyper-pigmented spots lighted and disappear! Some even fell off, literally the skin had a scab and would just come off to reveal even toned skin underneath. I had to take a break from the product (due to financial issues) and the results remain. Spots continued to lighten, my skin is definitely less oily and my breakouts are far in between and less noticeable. This is coming from someone who has tried every product for African American skin and had "full coverage" makeup possible. This is truly the only product that ended in results. I am a lifelong fan. @ Sheree I am going to try it on other areas as well. Thanks
Boogie says:
April 25, 2010, 2:29 pm
I am a victim of hormonal acne and like you I always know when Aunt Flo' is coming!! What kills me is that my body waited until my 30s to start attacking me with this facial acne foolishness! lol
facresy says:
May 12, 2010, 8:09 am
I have stopped eating fruits and my acne cleared. I don't know for sure if the raw state was difficult on my digestive system or if the type of sugar was not well tolerated by my body. It's been such a hugh relief as I have been vegetarian most of my life and never had clear skin. We need to re-evaluate the pros of consuming lots of fruits, it just does not work for everyone. Maybe for strong meat eaters whose ancestors subsited on meats as well? Mine were vegetarians.
ericka says:
July 10, 2010, 6:18 pm
These are all the reasons why I break out. I get a huge pimple every month. I drink over 100 oz. of water EVERY day, but that monthly visitor brings baggage along with it. This post isn't making any sense as I read it back, so I'm out! LOL!
Delora Umali says:
July 20, 2010, 11:57 am
It's amazing how many people don't realize this. Thanks for this very informative post, I look forward to seeing more in the future!
teachermrw says:
July 22, 2010, 12:12 pm
Re: Skin and water consumption, here is something interesting:
confused says:
June 28, 2011, 8:11 pm
I have never had an actual "break out"in my life. I'm much too old to be just starting puberty so I'm completely confused. I have been known to sleep with my makeup on at night but this happened in a matter of hours. There were about 10-15 acne spots on each cheek. This was right after exam week had finished so it may have been due to my lack of sleep. I used clearasil and then switched over to clean and clear with benzyl peroxide which has been working. BUT...Today I noticed a small bump starting to form on the side of my cheek and it's started again...literally NOW. I have no clue what to do and it's only been about a week, tops since this has started. PLEASE HELP.
cassandra says:
September 3, 2012, 2:10 am
Hello I started taking multivitamins because I read that at 40 iodine decreases but after reading your post I am consider slacking up to maye everother day. 5he vitamins have helped my energy so uuuuuh :( Please share the natural products that you found. Thank you.
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