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The Culprit: Your Pesky Nail-Biting Habit
Think of everything you’ve touched today — all the doorknobs, subway stairwell rails, and germ-ridden keyboards. Now, think about all the times you’ve subconsciously rested your chin on your hands, swept away your bangs, or, worse, nibbled on your nails — simultaneously transporting all that dirt, oil, and bacteria onto your skin.
When you’re bringing your hands to your mouth to chew on your nail beds, the jagged, chewed fingernails end up pushing the bacteria and dirt even deeper into the sensitive mucous membranes on your face. This clogs pores and causes breakouts along your mouth and chin.
The Solution: Switch Up Your Vice
Kick your nail-biting habit by keeping your mouth busy with gum or mints, suggests Lamba. Or, use your habit as a handy excuse for a weekly manicure. “When you keep your nails neat and tidy, you’re less likely to bite them,” she says. Try polishes specifically formulated with a bitter taste to deter the biting.
The Culprit: Removing Unwanted Facial Hair
We’re suckers for any beauty trend hailing from the Far East. But, if you’ve recently taken up dermaplaning — or any other sort of facial-hair removal, be it waxing your upper lip or using a depilatory on your chin hairs (let’s all admit right now, grandmas aren’t the only ones who sprout these) — you could be causing breakouts. Removing facial hair via any of these methods is hard on your skin and causes irritation and tissue swelling. “[You’re] actually pushing skin cells deeper into the pores, leading them to clog as acne-causing bacteria settles in,” says Lamba.
The Solution: Prep Your Skin Pre-Session
Laser hair removal is a gentler method of keeping your skin fuzz-free, but if you’re not able to shell out the extra dough, pay close attention to treating your skin pre- and post-hair removal. “Use an anti-microbial cleanser to remove any bacteria before your wax session,” says Lamba. Exfoliating the area with a gentle cleanser will remove the dead cells and dirt. If you get zits anyway, exfoliate again, and then use topical tea tree oil or witch hazel for their antiseptic properties. Follow up by spot treating with salicylic acid.
The Culprit: That Goes-With-Everything Necklace
Your signature necklace could be to blame for breakouts around the nape of your neck. “In hotter climates, you tend to sweat more on the back of your neck,” says Lamba. “The salt found in your sweat reacts with the metal in some jewelry, causing irritation.”
The Solution: Shop Around
This kind of irritation is most common with metals like nickel, usually found in costume jewelry, says Lamba, so look for higher-quality metals. And, always take off your jewelry when hopping in the shower. “Soaps, washes, and lotions can leave product build-up behind…which, in constant contact with your skin, leads to inflammation and breakouts.”
The Culprit: Your Daily Hair Arsenal
Your regular routine of shampoo, conditioner, and styling products can lead to what is referred to as pomade acne. Oil-based products containing petroleum, silicone, jojoba oil, or shea butter could be to blame because they "tend to trap the most bacteria and create a breeding ground for acne," says Dr. Karen Hammerman, a board-certified dermatologist with expertise in cosmetic dermatology. Pomade acne can occur along your forehead, jawline, temples, behind your ears, on your back, and along your hairline.
The Solution: Shower With Care
Take extra care to tilt your head to one side as you rinse off products in the shower — you want to keep the residue off acne-prone areas of your body, says Hammerman. And, stay away from film-depositing sulfates (often labeled SLS), particularly in shampoos. While you’re still in the shower, wash your face with an acne-preventing cleanser, like Olay Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Deep Scrub, to make sure you get off any products that may break you out later.
The Culprit: Your Trendy New Haircut
If you’ve never had Bangs Regret, you’ve never had bangs. In addition to hanging in your face and blowing in your eyes, they may also be causing the sporadic breakouts along your forehead. Sweat gets trapped on your forehead all day long, as do the styling products that cause pomade acne, says Hammerman.
The Solution: Strategic Styling
The more you keep your hair off your face, the better. Pull your bangs back periodically during the day, and dab the area with oil-blotting sheets. At night, keep your hair wrapped in a silk scarf to decrease the chance of oil absorbing into your face as you toss and turn.