You’re having one of those weeks.  You’re going about your normal routine of work and play, and suddenly your skin feels a bit off.  You check your reflection in the mirror and notice mild acne and red bumps.  Double facepalm!

You start to wonder why you are breaking out in the first place.  Are you doing something to cause this breakout?  Can you do anything to stop it? Depending on your age, lifestyle, diet and grooming habits, sudden breakouts may not be all that unusual.

There are many factors that contribute to mild or cystic acne.  Doing a deep dive into recent changes in your routine may help you identify the root cause of a sudden acne outbreak and help you better understand how to avoid future breakouts.


Yes, men have hormonal acne which is either from a natural fluctuation in the body’s hormone levels or from changes due to medication.  For most people, a sudden increase in hormone levels – for whatever the reason – creates an increase in oil, which leads to clogged pores and bacteria.  End result?  A sudden outbreak. 


Out of control stress can wreak havoc on your mind and body – especially on your skin.  Acne breakouts during periods of high stress are not all that uncommon.  Stress increases hormones which in turn exacerbate existing acne and cause new pimples to appear.  Try keeping track of when you are stressed and when you break out.  Is there any correlation?  If the answer is yes, start to look for ways to calm your mind and body.   You will also want to alleviate any stress to your gut, so make sure you opt for heathy meal choices. 


A sudden change from an otherwise healthy diet can show up as acne on your face.  Eating a diet high in refined sugar, carbohydrates, and dairy products can increase the inflammation in your body, which causes your gut microbiome to get out of balance, which ultimately increases the likelihood of a sudden acne outbreak.  Getting back to a healthy diet will put your skin back in the clear. 


Long hours at the office?  Partying until dawn? No matter the reason, not getting the rest and sleep your body needs can lead to inflammation, which causes an increase in oil production and cortisol.  Your body needs sleep to have time to revitalize and repair itself. Otherwise, breakouts become a common occurrence.     


Mobile phone screens are notoriously dirty and phone hygiene is often overlooked.  You’re touching that phone screen multiple times throughout the day - scrolling and texting with dirty fingers and then pressing the phone against your face.  Get in the habit of cleaning your phone daily with a sanitizing wipe to help prevent breakouts.


This cause is typically overlooked. Slight modifications to your skincare routine or a change in skin care product can lead to acne.  Slight outbreaks that occur when you switch to a new cleanser are not typically a cause for concern.  This is just your skin adjusting to new ingredients.  If your cleanser has new active ingredients, especially changes in exfoliating acids, you may experience skin purging.  This just means that the impurities trapped deep in the skin’s dermis start rising to the top and being purged.  This is totally normal and may last for two to three weeks.  If you give it time and the breakout does not go away, then the new cleanser may not be right for you. 

If you’re adding a new toner, serum, or moisturizer, be mindful of the ingredients.  If the new product contains active ingredients like vitamin C, retinol, or exfoliating acids, then it is best to introduce them one at a time.  In addition, products with varying pH levels may cause a short-term reaction such as redness, slight inflammation, or acne. With time your skin should acclimate.    

To mitigate any negative effects, try cycling the products slowly into your routine.  For example, if you’re introducing a vitamin C serum, start by using it only one to two times per week, instead of daily. The key is to go slow and steady, so you know which products cause a reaction. If acne persists after a few weeks, then the new product may not be compatible for your skin. 

Sudden acne outbreaks are not uncommon.  This is just your skin telling you that something is off. Being in tune with your lifestyle and grooming routine will put you ahead of the game – and help you put your best face forward.