Swellness Blog


Factors Irritating Your Skin

lifestyle wellness Feb 12, 2024
factors irritating your skin

Photo by Mikhail Nilov

You’ve researched, purchased skin care products and tried tips you’ve seen online. However, despite your good intentions, you’re not seeing the results you want. What are you doing wrong?

Skin irritation isn’t just caused by poor hygiene or a surge of hormones. A few sneaky factors can lead to breakouts or worsen your skin's condition. Check out these 10 factors that may be secretly causing problems and learn how to combat them.

1. Skimping on SPF

Sunscreen is the most essential part of your morning skin care routine. This information isn’t new, but you may not realize there are right and wrong techniques.

Using the wrong sunscreen and not applying it correctly can cause issues. Many people don’t fully understand how sun protection works, with 65% of people often forgetting to reapply sunscreen throughout the day. Ensure that you reapply as needed based on SPF and use an oil-free, nongreasy and noncomedogenic product.

2. Applying Makeup With Dirty Brushes

Your makeup brushes accumulate dirt, oil and residue when used regularly, making them breeding grounds for bacteria. Applying them to your face can compromise your skin, causing rashes and acne breakouts. In extreme cases, it could lead to fungal infection.

Protect your skin from the harmful dirt lingering on your brushes. Wash then every seven to 10 days — rinse tips using lukewarm water to remove the remaining makeup. Then, fill a bowl with water and a tablespoon of gentle shampoo. After washing, squeeze gently to get rid of excess moisture. Lay brushes flat on a towel and let it dry.

3. Not Cleaning Smartphone Screens Regularly

The reason behind your breakouts might just be in your hand. Every time you touch your phone, you transfer bacteria and potentially harmful substances to your device. This is especially true when you’re on a call and holding your phone against your cheek and ear, which may result in acne.

While it’s relatively safe to use disinfectant wipes, avoid using those containing bleach or alcohol, as these can affect your phone’s screen.

4. Not Rinsing Well After Washing Your Face

You’ve followed beauty gurus online and started using the cleanser they’ve suggested but still are not getting the results you want. Sometimes, the problem isn’t on the product — it’s how well you rinse your face. Residue can clog your pores, leading to possible breakouts. The next time you cleanse your face, double-check that everything is washed away.

5. Using Dirty Towels and Pillowcases

Another sneaky culprit could be the towels and pillowcases that come in contact with your face. 

Washcloths pick up dirt from your face and tend to stay damp after use, making them ideal breeding grounds for more bacteria. This may be invisible to the naked eye, but these substances can increase your risk of skin infections, such as acne. Throw your washcloths into the washing machine after every one to three uses to prevent mildew, bacteria and mold from festering.

Additionally, like towels, your pillowcase can accumulate substances from sweat, oil, skin care product residue and dead skin cells. Ensure it’s changed at least weekly to avoid problems.

Photo by cottonbro studio

6. Applying Old Beauty Products to Your Face

Applying expired makeup to your face can trigger numerous skin problems. It can lead to clogged pores and bacterial growth, causing acne, redness or irritation. Mold is also an issue because moisture accumulates inside the containers over time. When applied to the skin, it can cause inflammation.

Here are the basic guidelines regarding a cosmetic product’s longevity:

  • Mascara and liquid eyeliner: Safe to use for three months
  • Pencil eyeliner and lip pencils: Use within a year
  • Cream-based products: Replace every six months
  • Powdered items: Good for up to two years when stored properly
  • Lipstick: Can be used for one to two years

7. Over-Exfoliating

Exfoliation is the practice of getting rid of dead skin cells. It’s great for achieving a clear complexion but can harm skin health if done too much. Over-exfoliating can strip your skin of natural oils that are essential for moisturizing. Doing so can irritate your skin because you’re peeling away the topmost layer before it can regenerate.

Avoid exfoliating every day and using the wrong product. For instance, apricot seeds are abrasive and can cause more harm than good. You may use a chemical exfoliator, such as lactic acid.

8. Not Drinking Enough Water

You might want to check your water intake if you’re experiencing breakouts. Hydration is essential for your health, including your skin. It supports sweat and oil gland function so your body can maintain its internal temperature.

Drink at least eight glasses of water daily. If you find it too bland, try healthy infused water recipes to make hydration more exciting. For example, you can add mint, which contains relaxing properties that help soothe muscles and aid your sleep at night.

9. Using Hair Products

Sometimes, the culprit is your hair. Creams, oils, sprays, gels and even shampoo can cause acne when not rinsed properly. If you’re having sudden breakouts along your hairline, forehead, neck or back, your hair products may be the reason.

Fortunately, you can prevent breakouts and keep your hair care routine. Wrap your head in a scarf before sleeping or switch to products made for acne-prone skin.

10. Eating Select Foods

You’ve heard the adage, “You are what you eat.” This saying is true regarding your overall health, including your skin. Foods with a high glycemic index, fatty items, fast food and dairy products can trigger the formation of acne.

Make a healthy switch for clear skin. Eat sources rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts and sardines. Antioxidant-rich foods, such as strawberries, citrus fruits and leafy greens, are also great options.

Take Care of Your Skin

Sometimes, your hygiene isn’t the problem. Your lifestyle and many other factors can be the culprit behind those pesky skin issues. Knowledge is power when it comes to caring for your face and preventing acne. Consider these potential triggers today on your journey to healthier, clearer skin.