[By Annie Toh]

Sometimes just by making a few simple changes to your lifestyle can have a significant impact on clearing up your skin. Here are our top 5 acne exacerbators, and tips on what you can do to minimize them.


Stress effects the body by causing the hormone cortisol to skyrocket as a response mechanism. High levels of cortisol cause the sebaceous glands to go into overdrive.

The Solution: Practice a more peaceful and relaxing lifestyle. Getting a good seven to eight hours of sleep a night makes a big difference. Taking vitamins like calcium and magnesium, as well as learning to manage your stress, can help calm frazzled nerves.

Sun Exposure

The old wives’ tale that the sun will clear up your skin doesn’t really hold true. In fact the opposite happens. “The effects of the sun on the skin are delayed,” says Dr Jinly Wong from the Sloane clinic Kuala Lumpur. “Initially your skin clear ups, because the sun can dry up some breakouts, but over the next few days it usually becomes worse. The reason for this, “the sun causes inflammation, eventually triggering more breakouts,” explains Dr Wong.  “Sun exposure also increases the risk of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation which manifests as the brown marks left behind after a pimple resolves.”

Read More: 5 Ways to Save Sun Damaged Skin

The Solution: Regardless of where you live or what your skintype is, sunscreen should be used on a daily basis. A common complaint among acne sufferers is that sunscreen leaves the skin feeling oily and congested, which may be true is you use products loaded with synthetic ingredients. Switch to a physical based sun protectant; gel formulas are best for acne and oily skin types.


Although numerous studies have shown no link between acne and foods such as fried, oily foods and chocolate, another school of thought is proposing that the rise in adult acne cases may be due to the hormones in the food we eat. “It is possible that adult acne is correlates with the increasing hormonal activity in our daily consumption” says Dr Dr Wong. “There may also be an association with milk and dairy as well, although so far there has yet been sufficiently strong evidence to support this theory”.

The solution: Eat organically farmed, hormone-free meat and dairy products whenever possible. Also try to limit your intake of refined sugars and processed and packaged foods since both are thought to increase internal inflammation.

Pore- Clogging makeup

Oil-based and heavy makeup may be contributing to your breakouts without your knowing as they easily clog up the pores. Other cosmetic ingredients like oils and butters, can also instigate acne.

The solution: If you find that your makeup is causing breakouts, try switching to a non-waterbased formula. “Always make sure that your makeup products are oil-free and non comeodogenic” explains Dr Wong. “Better yet, use mineral makeup, which employs crushed natural minerals like zinc and magnesium that have anti-inflammatory and antiacne properties”.

Harsh topical products

Be it a single ingredient or a combination, topical products that are too strong for your skin- think Retin-A, acids and even vitamin derivatives like vitamin C- can actually aggravate acne. Harsh topical can overdry and irritate the skin. Overdrying the skin paradoxically stimulates the oil glands, making them over-compensate for what the skin feels it is lacking.

Read More: 5 Things Dermatologists Will Never Put On Their Skin

The solution: Consult with your doctor and work out what products or ingredients might be making your skin more reactive, then either eliminate or reduce your use of them.


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