5 ways your beauty routine is actually causing you to break out

The only thing that really got us through our painfully awkward teenage years was the hopeful belief that things could only get better. We dreamed of the days when our wardrobes didn’t consist of our sisters’ hand-me-downs, our dates weren’t immature weirdos, and our days wouldn’t be ruined by the arrival of a bright red beamer. And sure, maybe our wardrobes have greatly improved and our dates have gotten (slightly) better, but our skin seems to have gotten even worse–despite our greater efforts to perfect it.

This isn’t a coincidence: there can be a correlation between your dedication to attaining clear skin and your pimple-prone mug. Turns out, our carefully designed beauty routine could actually be a mere collection of skin sabotagers. It’s your standard case of Catch-22: our efforts for a blemish-free complexion can be the very reason we need such a heavy skin care regimen to begin with.

And so, we’re highlighting the top five ways your beauty products could be causing you to break out, and what you can do to fix it. From over-exfoliating to pore-clogging cosmetics, clear skin can just be one simple beauty cupboard cleanout away.

Reason #1: You have an overzealous skincare regimen

As important as it is to exfoliate your skin to remove dead skin cells, over-scrubbing can be even worse than not exfoliating at all. We depend on our outer-most layers of our skin to form a protective barrier of proteins and lipids that works to maintain moisture while repelling acne-causing bacteria. Over-scrubbing can harm the barrier, leading to inflammation and the inability to repel such bacteria. Plus, if you happen to scrub any active acne, the bacteria from the blemish can get spread to other areas of your face, leading to more breakouts. The fix? Use a super gentle cleanser and refrain from scrubbing your skin too hard. La Roche Posay’s Physiological Ultra-Fine Scrub is ideal for those with ultra-sensitive skin and can be used once daily. On top of being a gentle way to remove dead skin cells, it easily removes makeup while moisturizing and soothing your skin.

La Roche Posay Physiological Ultra-Fine Scrub ($22,  laroche-posay.ca)

Reason #2: You’re using dirty makeup brushes

Perhaps even scarier than the question “when was the last time you washed your bras?” is the question: when was the last time you washed your makeup brushes? Bacteria loves to grow on makeup brushes and therefore easily gets transferred to your entire face. Make a point to wash your brushes once a week to keep them free of blemish-inducing bacteria. Use a gentle shampoo, like The Honest Company’s Shampoo + Body Wash, which boasts natural and organic ingredients–it’s a great product for sanitizing your brushes while ensuring no extra irritating chemicals are being swiped over your face.

The Honest Company Shampoo + Body Wash ($10, honest.com)

Reason #3: Your products contain pore-clogging ingredients

Many different face creams and cosmetics contain pore-clogging ingredients like mineral oil, silicones and fragrances. Fill your skin care line-up with products that are labelled “noncomedogenic.” This means that they’re been specifically formulated to not clog pores, which typically leads to breakouts. Laura Mercier has an array of products that are noncomedogenic, including the Moisture Supreme Foundation. It’s ideal for sensitive skin of the normal-to-dry variety, making it a great foundation for the dry icy months.

Laura Mercier Moisture Supreme Foundation ($58, sephora.com)

Reason #4: You’re not using the right spot treatments

If you’re prone to breakouts, it’s important to ensure you’re not drying out your skin with your anti-acne products, as a lack of moisture can trigger skin to produce more oil to overcompensate, leading to more blemishes. Avoid overusing products that include salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or sulphur. Try Renée Rouleau’s Night Time Spot Lotion, which can quickly heal blemishes (from pimples and whiteheads to mosquito and ant bites) with its blend of potent disinfecting ingredients. Since it’s just for nighttime application, it has less of a chance of drying out your skin.

Renee Rouleau Night Time Spot Lotion (US $30, reneerouleau.com)

Reason #5: Your hair products are clogging your pores

Like your pore-clogging cosmetics, your hair products can also include sulfates, heavy moisturizing agents and silicones which can seep into your pores, clog them and lead to breakouts on your hairline, face or body. The solution? When showeing, wash and condition your hair first, and then use a facecloth and a loofah to wash and rinse off any product that may have gotten on your skin. Consider ditching your dry shampoo for a simple alternative: a quick dusting of your face powder along your face-framing strands.

The Body Shop Bath Lily ($4, thebodyshop.com)