Have you ever wondered why every two weeks you always seem to get a breakout on your cheeks or forehead — like in the exact same spot? Well, the truth is that dirt isn’t the only thing causing pimples.
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There are other factors that have nothing to do with your skin care regimen. Things like your hairstyling products, waxing schedule, and hormones can initiate a breakout. You can often pinpoint the problem by the location of the pimples.
The ancient art of Chinese face mapping connected areas of the complexion with internal issues. For example, a pimple between the brows could have been a sign of an ailing liver. Now, we’re not taking things that far, but those same blackheads between your arches could mean you need to rethink your brow waxing appointments. We spoke with Kerry Wall, the brand manager and esthetician for The Organic Pharmacy in NYC, to get a better look at acne culprits (and solutions) based on where it’s happening. That way when hormone-induced pimples pop up on your chin every month, you’ll have a plan of attack prepared.
- Stress: Wall revealed that stress-related pimples appear first on the forehead and cheeks. When your life gets busy, your body starts to release more cortisol, which can lead to breakouts. While you can’t control external stress factors, don’t let the packed schedule keep you from your regular skin care routine, and always remember to remove your makeup before bed.
- Hair products: Are you rocking this season’s latest fringe trend (perhaps blunt and short à la Beyoncé)? Well, that cute cut could be causing pomade acne. “People don’t want to get their bangs wet. So they just move them to the side and won’t really wipe or cleanse their forehead properly,” Wall said. “Or it could be something that you’re using on your hair that’s too greasy — deep moisturizing shampoos and conditioners are an overkill of oils on your skin where it doesn’t need it.” Make sure to pin back your bangs with a headband or shower cap so that you thoroughly wash your hairline and forehead.
- Digestive system: The forehead area is the place that coincides with the digestive system in Chinese medicine, so pimples in this area can be caused by an intestinal imbalance (read: you eat too much junk food). Plan for a week-long detox if the problem persists.
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- Makeup: “A lot of people avoid exfoliating their brows because there’s hair there, but your arches still accumulate the same dirt,” Wall explains. Make sure that your brow area gets the same treatment your entire face receives, meaning extend masks and peels over the hair. If you fill in your brows with product, scrub the residue out of the hair each night.
- Glasses: It’s not necessarily your frames causing the breakouts between the brows (even though dirty glasses do carry bacteria to the area); it’s more about the constant contact. “They’re rubbing and putting pressure on that area, and that stimulation is causing oil production,” Wall said.
- Wax: “When you wax an area, you’re pulling out the hair follicles and that leaves that open to infection,” Wall said. “You can very easily get spots and pimples in that area because it gets blocked a lot quicker.” She suggests planning your next brow touch-up appointment in the evening, so you can go straight home and avoid applying concealer, which will only clog sensitive pores.
- Hormones: “When you’re on your period your body is on natural detox,” Wall said. “You tend to get the hormonal acne, which is where you get breakouts across the chin, and it’s where the skin’s oil glands are overstimulated.” In preparation for that time of the month, double up on your clay mask regimen to keep the area extra clean.
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- Cell phone: It’s time to go hands-free because your handheld is ruining your complexion. “Cell phones will hold bacteria, and bacteria can cause an infection within the pores and the sebaceous glands, which results in pimples,” Wall said. “When you put something hot on your face for a really long time, you’re going to get sweat and stimulate your oil-producing glands.” To prevent your electronics from causing a breakout, go wireless with a bluetooth headpiece.
- Makeup: We’re not saying you should give up your favorite lipstick (we are beauty editors, here), but the pigments could be causing inflammation. “A lot of lip colors have F, D, and C dyes, which are linked to causing blackheads and blockages,” Wall said. Make sure when you rock that bold lip color that you’re removing the shade fully before bed.
- Wax: Not only can you get unwanted breakouts from waxing the upper-lip area (see the eyebrows slide), but you can start getting pimples before your mustache even appears! Women in their late 30s may begin to get whiteheads on the lip as a precursor to hair growth as a part of a hormonal change.
- Diet: Ever notice how pimples around your nose seem to pop up right after you’ve binged on fried foods? Cysts and blackheads around the nose can also be a sign of high blood pressure. Up your vitamin B intake, eat foods high in omega fatty acids, and exercise regularly to give your cardiovascular system a boost.
- Smoking: The Chinese face-mapping technique links the center of the face to the respiratory system. So, in that vein a cigarette habit could lead to increased acne due to impaired lung function. Not to mention the constant touching of the face that lighting up requires.