Acne starts inside blocked pores.

Sebaceous glands in the pores continuously produce sebum, a normally beneficial oil that lubricates the hair and skin. Pores can become blocked by excessive sebum combined with dead skin cells.

Blackheads are not dirt.

If the pore is completely blocked, a whitehead forms.
If the pore is partially blocked, a blackhead forms, as air oxidizes the plug and turns it black.

Acne bacteria are always on your skin.

Acne bacteria, as well as “good” bacteria, are always present on the skin’s surface, referred to as the skins microbiome.

Once plugged, oxygen can no longer enter pores. Acne bacteria thrive without oxygen and rapidly multiply. The blocked pore swells from inside and various breakouts can result.

Contributing Causes of Acne

There is no single definitive cause for acne but there are several factors that have been proven to contribute to the onset of breakouts.


A known trigger for acne at different stages in the life cycle. Hormones levels increase in teens moreduring puberty and can cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge, causing an increase in sebum production. Changing hormone levels in girls and women can cause acne during menstrual cycles and when starting or stopping birth control pills. Adult men can also be affected, depending on their hormone levels.


Typically, acne-prone skin is oily, and is characterized by pimples and blackheads. moreWithout proper treatment, these pimples and blackheads could develop into severe acne, leaving permanent pits and scars. Sensitive skin is also susceptible to acne, due to its sensitivity to even the slightest changes in body chemistry brought on by cosmetics and external influences
Acne has also been linked to genetics, meaning if your mom or dad (or both) had acne, it’s more likely you’ll develop acne. Also, the more members of your family with acne, the greater the chances you have of developing the problem.


Acne is triggered by products that contain comedogenics — substances that are known to clog pores. moreKnown comedogenics include penetrating oils, such as lanolin and fragrance, which cause allergic and irritant reactions on the face.
Skin products — especially lotions and sunscreens — may also cause acne, since they can clog pores. Make sure you use an oil-free sunscreen labeled non-comedogenic, which means it won’t clog pores.
Most hair products include ingredients that should be kept away from the skin. Make sure you cover your skin when you spray on any hair products that contain alcohol, oils and adhesives. Try to keep oils, gels, mousses and pomade away from the skin on the hairline.


Working out/playing sports: While sweat doesn’t cause acne, it can aggravate acne-prone skin. moreAthletes and active people may suffer from acne, due to contact with environmental factors, such as dirt from playing fields, outdoor pollutants and friction (from chin straps, helmets, etc.) that is associated with sports or working out. To counteract this, be sure to wash immediately after exercising, preferably with a medicated cleanser.
Wear as little makeup as possible when working out and if you’re planning on exercising outdoors, make sure your sunscreen is non-comedogenic. If you’re prone to body acne, wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes made of cotton that allow your skin to breathe and are less prone to cause friction, as friction can cause acne.


Stress can have many effects on the body, including hormonal changes that can cause acne. moreWhen you become tense, your adrenal glands over-stimulate the sebaceous glands to secrete more sebum, which results in the formation of acne. And though it’s impossible to eliminate stress completely, you can definitely reduce the affect it has on your acne by eating right and getting enough sleep. A balanced diet and at least seven hours of sleep every night will help reduce the activity of the “stress hormone” cortisol, which is the hormone released by the body when it feels like its being attacked by stress.


Climate changes also play a major role in the severity and extent of acne. moreFor most, winter seems to be the worst season for acne, due to the weather’s harsh conditions that can cause dry, flaky skin. Neutralizing dry skin by applying extra moisturizers and lotions can lead to even more breakouts, especially if you’re using a moisturizer that’s too oily for your skin type.

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