Beauty & Skincare

Why Your Acne Keeps Coming Back

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Acne is easily the most common (and annoying) skin condition we know, and its causes are diverse. Acne can be caused by simple things, such as what you had for dinner last night, your pillowcase, or your makeup brushes; it could also be as complex as your genetics. Whatever the causes might be, here are 5 common reasons why your acne keeps coming back.

Your medications

Image adapted from Proactiv 

Some medications have been found to either cause acne or worsen existing acne. These include steroids, medications that contain iodide bromide, lithium, some anti-convulsion medications, contraceptives, vitamin B12 and some medications that are used to treat tuberculosis. Be sure to check the components of your drugs to see if they contain any of these.

Your pillowcase 

Image adapted from Wickenburg Hospital

Your pillowcase comes in contact with your face and hair pretty frequently and so you can only imagine what is left on it after each night’s beauty sleep. It’s like a dirt magnet- dead skin cells, saliva, sebum/oils, sweat, hair products’ residue, face care products’ residue and so much more. These substances accumulate on your pillowcase and irritate your skin. It is recommended to change your pillowcase weekly, but if you’re prone to acne then you should be changing it every 2-3 days to prevent breakouts.

Your hands 

Image adapted from Beyourself

Your hands are responsible for a good number of acne breakouts. Touching your face contributes to acne by transferring anything on your hands directly to your face. It could be dirt, oils, or even comedogenic hand creams. Because we’re constantly touching things around us and shaking hands with other people, we’re likely to pick up a lot of dirt and just random substances from the environment that could serve as irritants to the face. In addition to this, picking and touching existing acne makes it worse by irritating it a little more, and increases its chances of leaving marks when it eventually heals.

Your phone 

Image adapted from Samacharnama

Did you know that our phones have more dirt on them than public restrooms? Yuck!  But it makes sense though, considering restrooms often get cleaned and disinfected but our phones don’t. We use our phones A LOT throughout the day and substances like sweat, makeup, sebum, germs from our hands and dust build upon its surface and don’t get cleaned very often. So every time we put our phones in contact with our face, we’re transferring more and more of this yucky stuff to our face day after day. This increases your chances of getting acne especially if you’re already prone to acne.

Your makeup brushes 

Image adapted from Byrdie

If you’re a frequent makeup user, then chances are your makeup brushes get used pretty often. But do they get washed as often as they are used? With every application, your brushes collect dead skin cells, oils, and makeup residue which is left to sit on the brushes and are then reapplied on the face the next time the brushes are used. Over time, these accumulate, irritate the skin and cause acne breakouts. To be safe, it is recommended you wash your foundation and concealer brushes at least once a week, your eye makeup brushes every two weeks and all other less frequently used brushes monthly. Personally, I wash all my brushes at least once a week. My foundation brushes and sponges are washed after every two or three uses majorly because most of my foundations are full coverage and so, more product accumulates on my application tools with each use.


How often do you wash your makeup brushes and pillowcases? Do you disinfect your phone? Let us know in the comment section below!

Featured image: Steven H Dayan MD 

Dr Wendy Evans-Uhegbu

The author Dr Wendy Evans-Uhegbu

Dr. Wendy Evans-Uhegbu is a graduate of The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, with experience in Connected Health, Medical Technology, Clinical Research, Medical Education, Medical Communications, and Web Design/Development. She is a part of the Medics Abroad team with the role of Chief Communications Officer. She is also a Medical Writer at 3D4 Medical and runs a Medical Communications and Children's books company (ODR Integrated Services/ ODR Books).  She is the author of the newly published children's book series "The Things Around Me".

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