Five surprising and simple mistakes causing your breakouts

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Breakouts are demoralising. There you are, buying up the latest and greatest on the skincare front, making sure to wash, exfoliate, and moisturise your skin like no one’s done it before, and BAM! One zit becomes two, then three, now a cluster (???), and finally, a full-blown breakout cruising across your face with no signs of stopping. Uncool – and unnecessary, as it turns out. Read below for tips on how to stop the self-sabotage and find yourself on the way to clear skin.


Let us paint you a picture. You buy a brand new brush – whoop, whoop! You use the brush to apply foundation, then place it back into your makeup bag or organiser. There the brush is often exposed to bacteria from the other products in your bag, or the air and dust around your organiser. You then use that same brush to apply foundation the next day, and all the bacteria your brush picked up the day before is now on your skin.

Repeat this often enough and your brush has a high chance of infecting skin prone to breakouts. This means acne, or even a rash. Ouch! So, get yourself a brush cleaner – we love silicone ones with ridges that enable a good scrub – and wash using hand soap. Squeeze-dry your brushes with a fresh towel, then let the rest of the moisture air dry by standing the brushes up vertically, bristles face-down. This keeps water from reaching the glue that connects the bristles to the brush itself, leading to damage.


If you’ve noticed a bunch of spots have popped up since you’ve picked up a latte-before-work habit, you might be reacting to milk. While there’s still investigation into a direct link between dairy and spots, initial studies say there’s enough evidence to be cautious (the same applies to carbs – how awful?!). While there are few substitutes as creamy and frothy as the original, both soya and almond milk are good stand-ins. Look for ‘barista’ blends that taste amazing when done right.


Almost all of us touch our face unconsciously throughout the day. If you’re thinking that this doesn’t sound like you, look back at your saved Instagram stories or look at recent selfies – chances are you’ll catch your hand cupping your chin or your fingers going up to your cheek as you think about about something unrelated. It’s only when you stop to think about what you’re doing that you realise how often your hands are busy. This wouldn’t be as big a deal as it is if our hands were spotless 24/7.


Phones are notoriously dirty. One study even found they have ten times as much bacteria on them than toilet seats. Now, does that sound like something you should put in close contact with your face? No! Solution: clean your phone down with an antibacterial wipe, or do away with holding your phone altogether – earphones work just as well and they don’t carry the risk of a spot on your cheek.


While working out has loads of benefits for your health, sweat can take a toll on your skin. Not because sweat itself is bad, but because it can settle excess dirt into your pores – dirt from, say, a yoga mat that could use a clean – and we all know how that story plays out. Wash your face and have a quick shower after every workout to minimise any issues, or keep some wipes in your gym bag if you don’t have the time straight away.

We hope that answered questions you had about the seemingly-random break outs that tend to crop up, but get in touch with our Skin Renewal doctor’s through the Ask the Experts tab if you have any other skincare concerns. They’re happy to help and super knowledgable on all things concerning skincare. In the mean time, comment below with your favourite zit-zapping techniques!


9 Responses

  1. The brushes really got me, I am definitely guilty of that. My make up sponges and beauty blender are packed with old make up and picks up dust and bacteria from where its being stored wow and that’s what I put onto my face each day! I will definitely clean them asap! no wonder I am breaking out constantly. This article was really helpful and informative, thanks BeautySA!

  2. Such a good read.
    Lots we as women can learn from this washing make up brushes is a must and most of us do not do this ; even wiping our phones i think these are a few good habits we all should pick up.

  3. I had a laugh because I did what I wasn’t supposed to do , which led to breakouts. I will definitely stop those bad habits

  4. Mmm interesting , OMW! small changes can really make a huge difference!

  5. I love my bangs and often my hair products causes breakouts on my forehead…but I love my bangs!

  6. This was a real eye opener! I actually touch my face numerous times a day without even noticing. When I concentrate I tend to pick at my skin (I know weird). I will defintely be more attentative next time. Thank you so much for sharing the tips! Now I will get the full benefits of my Clinique.

  7. i never realised my make-up brushes could be causing me to break out when i dont wash them. thanks for the tip. when washing my brushes however, do i use hot,cold or warm water?

    1. Good question, Oteng! Washing them gently with lukewarm water is what I do, and it works a treat. Excited for you to try it!- Aléz

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