What’s really causing your acne?

Acne is irritating, embarrassing and painful. There’s no denying that. If you’re one of the 5 million Canadians who deal with acne, according to the Canadian Dermatology Association, then you know how debilitating the skin condition is. Acne occurs when hair follicles are clogged up by dead skin cells, which then results in an over accumulation of sebum (the oily substance produced by your oil glands) and the growth of bacteria called P. Acnes, causing your skin to breakout.

Acne is an umbrella term that covers emerging blackheads, whiteheads, small and large bumps, nodules, cysts and pimples. Common areas of acne include face, chest, shoulders, and back—where your oil glands are.

Still, there are a multitude of ways and reasons why acne may show up. Along with the aforementioned factors and genetics (which determines how your body reacts to different hormones) here are other reasons why you may be breaking out.

5 factors that can cause acne:


During puberty, both boys and girls produce high levels of testosterone. Testosterone then signals the body to make more of sebum. Especially during a developmental stage, the body can produce too much oils causing clogged pores.


Studies have shown there’s a direct correlation to stress and an onslaught of breakouts. Research has found that under pressure, the body produces more stress hormones, which can then stimulate the production of more sebum.  

Skin care products and cosmetics

Ironically, sometimes the products we use to enhance our beauty can cause breakouts. Makeup and hair products often can clog pores from the ingredients alone. Avoid products that fragrances and dyes, alcohols, acrylics, parabens and silicone. And when shopping, look for products that are ‘non-comedogenic,’ ‘oil-free’ or ‘non-acnegenic.’


Scrubbing and/or exfoliating your skin can irritate your skin. Washing your face more than once or twice a day can make your skin dryer which then causes your an overproduction of oils.


Certain foods can cause breakouts, so it’s important to know which foods irritate your skin so you can avoid them. There is growing evidence that dairy products may make your acne worse. A diet with low glycemic index helps limit breakouts too.

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