5 Surprising Causes of Acne

Author: Dr. Bobby Buka

Have you ever woken up to a raging outbreak of pimples without any rhyme or reason? According to the American Academy of Dermatology, over 40 million Americans suffer from Acne breakouts. Although genetics and your body’s natural hormone levels play a key role in your susceptibility to acne, many other contributors that can aggravate the issue. Here are five causes of acne that may surprise you!



Although people usually associate hormonal acne with teenage puberty, it’s a common misconception. Adults of all ages can experience a fluctuation in their hormone levels which can cause mild to severe acne breakouts. From monthly menstruation to menopause at an older age, there are many ways in which our hormones levels can get out of whack! Our two main hormones are progestogen and estrogen – hormonal acne breakouts usually appear when out progesterone level tips on the heavier side. A great example of the effect our hormones can have on our body is during pregnancy. Women have a spike in their estrogen levels while pregnant, which is often why some will see a natural improvement in their acne. However, post-natal acne occurs as the estrogen levels drop and progesterone becomes the dominant hormone. Our body requires us to maintain a delicate balance of these hormones that are at times out of our control. However, there are a number of natural and chemical acne treatments that can help lower the severity of our hormonal breakouts.


Skimmed Milk

Odds are you’ve heard of the connection between dairy and acne. With milk and ice cream being the main culprits of your acne breakouts, you may assume skimmed milk is a way to side-step this bothersome issue. However, from cereal to coffee, adding this low-fat alternative to milk could actually be worsening your acne breakouts. In order to manufacturer skimmed milk, it must go through thorough processing leaving the bovine hormones unable to dissolve – this can have a major hormonal impact on our sebaceous glands and therefore cause our acne breakouts! As always, the most organic and natural option is best – always opt for full-fat milk from grass-fed cows to keep your skin and body happy and healthy. If you want to take it a step further, you could also try one of the many alternatives available such as almond milk, coconut milk or even rice milk!



In a perfect world, the air we breathe would be fresh and free of pollutants, but that’s just not the case, especially for us city dwellers! So, what does that have to do with acne you may ask? Externally, pollution weakens our skin’s protective barrier and therefore its ability to fight off free radicals. The dirt and debris in the air collects on our skin, blocks our pores and causes all that unwanted inflammation. Internally, the air impurities we inhale can enter our skin through our bloodstream, which our body works to filter out – sometimes causing our skin to breakout. This particular acne is called Chloracne and occurs when our skin attempts to eliminate these toxins and rid our body of all these nasty chemicals found in soot, smog, and other air impurities. People with particularly sensitive and acne-prone skin should be sure to up their intake of antioxidant foods and products in order to neutralize the burden of pollution on the body. Air purifiers are also excellent to have both at home and in the office to cleanse the air you breathe every day.


High Glycemic Index Foods

Ever find yourself with an acne flare up after eating a carb heavy or high sugar snack? Unfortunately, it’s no ill-timed coincidence. Foods with a high glycemic Index are directly related to inflammation in your body and can be particularly aggravating for acne-prone skin. If you frequently include simple carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta, and rice in your meals along with sugary processed candy bars and soda – this could be a major factor in your breakouts. Researchers have found that these foods with a glycemic index of 70 or higher can cause a spike in blood sugar. When your body experiences a rush of sugar, it increases your hormone levels and in turn stimulates oil glands that trigger acne breakouts. Avoid those pesky pimples and eat your way to healthy blemish-free skin by eliminating high GI foods along with a number of other acne causing foods. Try a plant-based diet with a mix of dark leafy greens, legumes, and nuts. Skip the candy bars and opt for fruits which will give you plenty of fiber and help keep your blood sugar levels steady.


Your Hair Products

It may be a big shock to many, but the substances in your hair styling products could be the cause of your acne breakouts. Many of the ingredients used to give your locks that luxurious, healthy shine aren’t so great for your skin. Many of the gels and serums we use on our hair are oil-based and filled with substances such as petroleum, and mineral oils – both major trigger ingredients for acne-prone skin. Try using water-based hair products and when using, keep them well away from your hairline and face!