what causes acne

What Causes Acne Anyway?

All women are different. We have different body shapes, size preferences, but we can all agree on one thing. We hate acne. My sister and I started this “We hate acne” series by this post so we can help you discover more about this problem and solutions. Welcome to the club! Also, our male counterparts can join this club. Because, want to actually know a little open secret, boys are more affected than girls when it comes to acne.

It’s fair to say that our detest is justified. Acne’s complications surpass the physical scars, psychological ramifications of acne are severe and can range from damaged self-esteem to suicide. Teenagers have been reported to have similar psychological difficulties as those with diseases, such as asthma, and diabetes.

So, instead of fussing about why this happens to us, we completed a guide that will help you know the causes of your acne problems. So you can start curing it right.

A little dictionary trivia that I have to add, did you know the fancy name of everyday conditions acne is known as Acne Vulgaris —vulgaris means “common” in Latin— so you are not alone in this. Have you felt the support? ok, back to our talk.

First, What is Acne?

At puberty, androgens levels which are the male hormones spike leading to an increase in sebum production from blocked sebaceous glands. Add to the mix a type of bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes. Although the bacteria’s role is still unclear as it is a skin commensal (not harmful).

So almost every teenager will experience some degree of acne, but why some people stay with acne in their 30’s, and some can be done with them before they finish the senior year? Now let’s get to the roots.

What Causes Acne?


You guessed it. Genetics play an important role in acne, and the heritability is 80% in first degree relatives. Meaning that some people are really blessed with good skin, and we can’t hate them for that.

Abnormal Production of Hormones

Basically, anything that will cause a surge in the level of androgen will cause acne. This includes but not limited to, testosterone replacement therapy, abuse of anabolic steroids, and Cushing’s disease. One of the major causes of acne is Polycystic ovarian syndrome, PCOS in short. Women affected by this can experience high levels of androgens, which are the male hormones leading to a severe form of acne. And the best way to distinguish this condition from others is to notice if you get irregular periods frequently, or if you have excess facial hair.


Ever wondered why pimples come to live in your skin before a big meeting? Or an important event like I don’t know, your wedding!? While researchers often debate about how important is the role played by stress in causing acne, it’s fair to say that stress can trigger an outbreak. Otherwise, who can tell me why I have a head size pimple before every exam? but, it is important to say that stress alone can’t be the cause of acne. Still, it defiantly makes it worst.

The reason behind this is the CRH (the stress hormone) or better known as cortisol, which is a hormone that causes an upsurge in the skin’s oil production — leading to my social embarrassment —and what do you do when you have a pimple? of course, we start picking! Especially if we are stressed, which leads to infection, and more outbreaks! Yes, the cycle is defiantly vicious. And sometimes, you just can’t stop. But we have to.


Like stress, the link between food and acne is controversial. Some say that the link is merely a myth (What!). But some researches found that there is actually a connection between consuming your favorite food, and your skin nightmare. Now you probably know what foods cause acne. Yes, it’s never broccoli, it’s your favorite carbs like bread, pasta, rice and of course sodas, and chocolates. All of these sugars release insulin which activates the bloody androgen, and yes increases the skin oil. The same also applies to dairy products and whey protein powder. But again, definitely more researches needed because I really need my latte.


It’s very common to experience acne during pregnancy. In fact, one in two pregnant women will develop acne! (I’m giving you the deets here). If you are prone to experience acne during your period (lucky me), it’s most likely that you will get them in your pregnancy. Hormones spikes in the first trimester leading to the glorious pregnancy glow aka oil, which leads to them pimples, but luckily, it’s only temporary, and your skin will clear up once your hormones return to normal.

Sleeping in Makeup

Ok, ok, I got to admit that I’m guilty of this one, but really who isn’t? You know how tired we can get after a night out when all we want is just to call it a night, and sleep. I mean who has the energy for a triple cleanse!? She does. But is it really that bad to sleep with your make up?
While again it’s not a primary cause of acne, it can clog your pores, and eventually cause acne. Foundations and thick, oil-based primers are often the worst culprits.

Since this post can help you find acne causes, what you do wrong to breakout, or what’s going wrong out of your hand. You will start finding the right solution for your specific problem. We will also write other posts about some cures for every specification that might help you, so stay tuned!

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