Secret Spot Saboteurs – Acne Culprits you might have Missed

You probably already know that there are two famous culprits behind the breakout: Hormones and genetics.

If you’ve trying to incorporate a strict skincare routine and stress-soothing, hormone-calming measures but to no avail, don’t lose hope! You might want to check if you are missing out on some sneaky pimple-producing perpetrators.

SKIN exposes six dastardly skin saboteurs to help you solve the mystery of your recalcitrant spots.




Hairstyling products may help you fight frizz, but you might have to pay the price of a gorgeous mane with breakouts in your forehead and hairline.

“Pomade acne” or “Acne Cosmetica” occurs when heavy hair products, moisturisers or makeup clog pores to give you a rough, bumpy complexion and zits.

It’ll be smart to lighten up your products and select alternatives labelled “non-comedogenic”. Watch out for notorious ingredients like lanolin, petrolatum, mineral oils, butyl stearate, lauryl alcohol and oleic acid as well. Avoid applying too much styling products near your hairline, and wash your hands before touching your skin.




Plastering your mobile against your face for hours on end could be causing pimples big enough to become the talk of the town.

“Acne Mechanica” is the medical mambo-jambo given to cases where repeated friction, occluded skin with collection of acne-inducing oils and bacteria, and constant heat aggravate the skin to bring on a spotty storm. Besides blaming your iPhone, other common culprits include helmet straps, surgical face masks (eg. in healthcare workers), the violin tucked under the jaw for hours, and tight-fitting sweat soaked gym gear (causing bacne and butt-cne).

Wiping your phone daily, avoid holding your cell against the same side of your face for long periods each time, or converting to a hands-free set may just relieve you from your persistent cheek acne. Similarly, most experts would advise you to change out of  your exercise wear and cleaning yourself up right after your gym session, instead of marinating your skin in the gunk.




You simply can’t pin down what’s triggering your pimples – you’ve been cleansing your face and makeup brushes, and ticked every step of anti-acne checklist as every beauty guru has advocated. But have you actually looked into your makeup bag yet?

Nasty germs lurking inside that pouch may be contaminating your cosmetics and sabotaging your efforts to stay in the clear. To prevent your beauty bag from turning into a hot bed for bacteria growth, use alcohol wipes to disinfect it regularly. Keep tab on when to toss makeup items gone bad as well, for pristine cosmetic hygiene.




Surprise, surprise. Dancing cheek to cheek with your honey could be the real reason why your zits are sprouting like Spring’s blossoms.

His hair wax and facial oils deposited on your shared towel or directly onto your skin as you cuddle causes clogged pores and “consort acne”. Similarly, sebum and impurities (from him or your own) deposited on pillowcases and sheets can cause plugged pores and trigger breakouts too.

To stop the red blemishing blooms, practice good basic hygiene by not sharing towels, and changing your towels and sheets frequently. Changing his styling products to oil-free, non-comedogenic ones may also be helpful to prevent breakouts as you make out.




Contrary to what doctors used to believe, new scientific evidence shows that what you put in your mouth may play a significant role in firing up the pimple parade after all.

Foods you should be wary of include cow’s milk and refined sugars (they cause trigger a spike of sebaceous gland stimulating hormones), fried foods (these tend to laden with inflammatory “bad” fats that add fuel to your spotty flames), and processed foods (they’re often are packed with additives, sugar and fats).




If your breakout isn’t responding like acne, what if it isn’t your garden variety pimple?

Two common skin eruptions masquerading as acne are rosacea and perioral dermatitis. Rosacea typically affects adult ladies in their 30s who have pimple-like spots concentrated in the central face, as well as signs of marked skin sensitivity such as burning, stinging, redness and broken capillaries.

Ladies with perioral dermatitis have groups of acne-mimicking spots, often along with eczema features like itching (muzzle rash), gathered around the mouth area.

And girl, if you’re somehow resembling more and more of a middle-aged man – unexpected hair loss on your head, together with weird increase in facial hair, stubborn sebum spillage and spots, weight gain, and irregular menses – it might be a good idea to see your gynaecologist. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a relatively common cause of hormonal imbalance in women, and could explain why your complexion isn’t behaving.


Case Closed…


– By Emily Wong


*This article has been selected Editor’s Choice for Aug 2012*


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