10 Habits That Can Worsen Acne

It may be an overstatement to say that a bad breakout ‘ruins your life, but there’s no denying that such instances are rather frustrating and embarrassing. Those with acne-prone skin are born with five times more skin cells than the average person, producing more oil than them, which naturally leads to more acne.

While it’s justified that those with acne-prone skin experience more breakouts, what about those who not only have normal skin but also follow a proper daily skincare routine?

You might not be fully aware of this, but some of your routine habits may be irritating your skin, causing breakouts. So, if you are wondering why you are experiencing acne, despite taking care of your skin, you should get started by evaluating your skincare habits and daily routine.

Without further ado, here are some habits that can worsen acne.

Close-up of a woman looking in the mirror and popping a zit on her forehead

1.  Experimenting with New Acne Treatments Frequently

Most people don’t give their new acne treatment enough time to work. If they don’t notice any changes within the first few days, they tend to switch their acne treatment immediately. The problem is that acne treatments require some time to work; constantly switching acne treatments can end up irritating one’s skin.

So, when you start using an acne treatment or product, make sure to use it for a good 6 to 8 weeks to see an improvement, and if you don’t see any changes till then, you can opt for another product. Just remember that it takes at least 3 to 4 months for acne to completely go away.

2.  Use Makeup and Skincare Products That Cause Irritation

Don’t trust the name, not all skincare and makeup products are actually there to benefit your skin. Although makeup won’t give you clear and soft skin, what’s even worse is that certain makeup products bring nothing but harm to your skin. Certain skincare and makeup products contain large amounts of oil and other ingredients that can end up causing breakouts.

If you continue using these ingredients, you will continuously notice the appearance of pimples and blemishes. Therefore, you need to be mindful when purchasing skincare or makeup products. Always go over the ingredients listed at the back or better yet, opt for organic skincare products.Moreover, you can also get products that are labeled as ‘non-comedogenic’ or ‘won’t clog pores.’

Here are some ingredients used in skincare products that you should steer clear of as they may trigger breakouts and cause irritation:

  • Lanolin – This is another term used for sebum or oil. While this is great for those with dry skin, it isn’t suitable for those with oily or acne-prone skin.
  • Mineral Oil –This ingredient forms a film type layer on your skin. By doing so, it ends up trapping bacteria and dead skin cells that are the biggest cause of acne.
  • Artificial Colors –If you spot FD&C in the ingredients listed behind a product, it means that the product contains artificial color. This dye or color can prove to be a big irritant for the skin, especially if it’s in your lipstick or blush.
  • Petroleum –Petroleum has a waxy or oily texture, and well, you don’t need any more sebum on your oily skin.
  • Artificial Fragrance —Even though fragrance makes your skincare and makeup products smell heavenly, artificial fragrances can cause skin irritation and trigger breakouts.

Portrait of an Asian woman popping her zit

3.  Sharing Makeup and Makeup Applicators

Several habits can exacerbate acne, with the sharing of makeup and makeup applicators being particularly detrimental. When individuals share makeup products such as foundations, powders, or brushes, they also share bacteria, oils, and dead skin cells. These elements can clog pores and lead to the development or worsening of acne.

Additionally, makeup applicators, if not cleaned regularly, can harbor bacteria and fungi, further increasing the risk of skin irritation and acne outbreaks. Therefore, it is essential to use personal makeup items and ensure they are cleaned regularly to maintain skin health and prevent acne aggravation.

Despite using the best, non-comedogenic makeup products, you can end up getting breakouts or blemishes if you share your makeup. While acne isn’t contagious, sharing makeup or makeup applicators and brushes end up transferring oil, dead skin cells, and acne-causing bacteria from other people’s skin onto yours. This ends up clogging your pores and spreading bacteria on your skin, leading to serious breakouts. Therefore, you need to ensure that you are the only one using your makeup products.

4.  Not Washing Your Makeup Brushes or Applicators

Not washing makeup brushes or applicators is a habit that can significantly worsen acne. These tools come into direct contact with the skin and can accumulate a mixture of makeup residue, natural skin oils, and dead skin cells. This build-up creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.

When these unclean applicators are used, they can transfer bacteria and irritants back onto the skin, leading to clogged pores, skin irritation, and increased acne breakouts. Regular cleaning of makeup brushes and applicators is essential to remove these contaminants and maintain skin health, thereby reducing the likelihood of exacerbating acne.

It is imperative that you keep your makeup brushes, sponges, and other applicators squeaky clean. Bacteria, dust, and other germs often settle on the surfaces of your makeup application. So, when you apply makeup using them, these menaces get transferred onto your skin, causing acne. Make sure to wash your makeup brushes and other applicators at least once a month to prevent breakouts.

5.  Sleeping with Your Makeup On

Sleeping with makeup on is a habit that can significantly worsen acne. When makeup is left on overnight, it can mix with the skin's natural oils and dead skin cells, leading to clogged pores. This blockage prevents the skin from breathing and regenerating naturally during sleep, which is crucial for skin health. Furthermore, makeup can trap environmental pollutants and bacteria against the skin, increasing the risk of irritation, inflammation, and acne breakouts. Therefore, thoroughly removing makeup before bed is vital for allowing the skin to heal and breathe, thereby reducing the potential for acne development or worsening.

This is a grave mistake one can make! Your skin repairs itself at night while you sleep. For this purpose, it needs to breathe freely and openly. Leaving your makeup on overnight can instantly cause terrible acne and breakouts. While the general rule is to never leave makeup on for too long, it is more than important for you to never sleep with your makeup on. If you are too tired to wash your face before going to bed, just get a pack of makeup wipes or use a makeup remover with cotton to clean your face.

Portrait of a woman touching her check

6.  Washing Your Face Multiple Times a Day

Washing your face multiple times a day can ironically be a habit that worsens acne, despite the common belief that cleanliness prevents breakouts. Over-washing can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading the body to compensate by producing more oil, which can increase the likelihood of clogged pores and acne. Additionally, frequent washing can irritate and dry out the skin, disrupting its natural barrier and making it more susceptible to acne-causing bacteria and inflammation. It's generally recommended to cleanse the face twice daily with a gentle cleanser to maintain skin health and balance, avoiding the counterproductive effects of excessive washing.

While it is important to wash and cleanse your face daily, washing your face multiple times a day can actually end up irritating your skin, leading to the appearance of more acne. The problem is that washing your face too much strips your skin off essential oils, which causes the body to produce even more oil, leading to breakouts.

The rule of thumb is to wash your face twice a day – once when you wake up and the second time should be before you head to bed. Also, you should also cleanse your face after you perform an activity that causes sweating.

7.  Not Using a Moisturizer

Neglecting to use a moisturizer can inadvertently worsen acne, a fact often overlooked by those with acne-prone skin. Many people assume that moisturizers will exacerbate oiliness and breakouts, but in reality, moisturizing is crucial for maintaining the skin's natural balance. When the skin is dry, it may produce more oil to compensate, leading to clogged pores and increased acne risk.

A suitable, non-comedogenic moisturizer helps to maintain the skin's hydration levels without clogging pores, thereby supporting the skin barrier and reducing the likelihood of acne flare-ups. It's important to choose a moisturizer appropriate for acne-prone skin to ensure it nourishes without contributing to further breakouts.

It is common knowledge that acne-prone skin is typically oily in nature. This often causes many people to believe that they don’t have to apply moisturizer if their skin is naturally oily. Well, this isn’t true at all. Whether you have oily or dry skin, it is essential for you to apply a moisturizer. However, the only difference is that while you use a heavier moisturizer for dry skin, you should apply a lightweight retinol moisturizing cream on oily skin.

8.  Drying Your Skin Too Much

Over-drying your skin is a habit that can paradoxically exacerbate acne, contrary to the common misconception that drier skin will lead to fewer breakouts. When the skin is excessively dried out, either through the use of harsh skincare products, over-exfoliating, or not using a moisturizer, it can disrupt the natural oil balance. This disruption can trigger the skin to produce more sebum (oil) to compensate for the dryness, leading to clogged pores and a higher likelihood of acne formation.

Additionally, over-dried skin can become irritated and inflamed, further aggravating acne conditions. Therefore, maintaining a balance by gently cleansing and adequately moisturizing the skin is crucial for preventing excessive dryness and reducing acne risk.

Many people use astringents and other acne treatments that dry out their oily skin. Little do they know that instead of improving acne, this can actually worsen it. Dry skin is irritated skin, and the more you irritate your skin, the more you risk getting acne. You should opt for acne treatments that is suitable for your skin and ones that won’t dry your skin out.

Close-up of a woman looking in the mirror and popping a zit on her nose

9.  Scrubbing Your Skin Too Much

Excessive scrubbing of the skin is a habit that can worsen acne, a fact often overlooked in the pursuit of a clear complexion. Vigorous scrubbing, particularly with harsh exfoliants or abrasive tools, can damage the skin's surface, leading to irritation, redness, and inflammation. This aggressive approach disrupts the skin's natural barrier, making it more susceptible to bacterial infections and acne breakouts. Moreover, over-scrubbing can stimulate the production of excess oil, further clogging pores and exacerbating acne issues. Gentle cleansing, with mild exfoliation as needed, is key to maintaining skin health and preventing the aggravation of acne.

In order to get rid of acne, you may be tempted to scrub your skin clean. However, this is one of the worst things you can do. Scrubbing your skin too much can end up irritating it, causing your acne to flare up. So, instead of scrubbing your skin, you need to be gentler when washing your face. You should opt for a mild, non-comedogenic cleanser and apply it lightly with your fingertips in a circular motion. When you wipe it off, make sure to dab it lightly with a towel.

10.  Popping or Squeezing Acne

Popping or squeezing acne is the worst thing you can do to your skin. When you pop or squeeze your pimples, you end up pushing some of what’s inside (pus, bacteria, or dead skin cells) deeper into your skin. By doing so, you end up increasing inflammation, which leads to acne, scarring and pain. So, make sure to treat your acne with proper medication, and visit a dermatologist if it gets worse.

Whether you have dry or oily skin, acne is a true menace. Make sure to avoid the above-mentioned habits and use natural skincare products, such as the Vit C Serum by ML Delicate Beauty.

Are you guilty of any of the above acne-causing habits? Let us know in the comments below!



  1. 6 Reasons for You to Choose Paraben-free Skincare Products
  2. 9 Dermatologist-Approved Skincare Tips for the Best Skin
  3. Everything You Need to Know About Anti-Aging Skincare
  4. Best Facial Skincare Tips from Independent Skincare Expert


About Author:
Jennifer Valdino | Skincare Expert | Facialist | Blogger
Jennifer Valdino is a Facialist and Skincare Expert. She frequently shares her general approach to caring for your skin through many public speeches. Jennifer truly understands how confidence having a bad skin can be, and she’s passionate about sharing her knowledge for tackling it. She knows first-hand how skin is so intrinsically linked to confidence as well as the best science-backed method to handle it. 
Follow her on Twitter and Instagram
Opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published