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No zit, Sherlock! Skin tips for acne sleuths

When you break out, it can be easy to pinpoint the cause. "Well, it is that time of the month," you might think, or "Ugh, I need to keep my hands away from my face!" Sometimes it's simple to figure out what's causing those nasty whiteheads, but there are few things more infuriating than having acne and not knowing where the heck it came from. Well, my dear Watson, here are some common (but relatively unknown) causes of acne that might help you prevent your next breakout.

All that beautiful bacteria

You dab on concealer and foundation, then sweep powder, bronzer and blush on your skin every day to hide your zits and other blemishes, but did you ever think that maybe your makeup is the very thing that is promoting the pimples?

The first thing to check for is that your makeup is labeled "non-comedogenic," which is dermo-speak for "won't clog your pores." When makeup gets in your pores, it mixes with bacteria and easily causes those little infections called zits that like to flare up right before an important meeting at work or a big night on the town.

Even if all of your products are non-comedogenic, they may still cause you to break out if they are expired. There may not always be expiration dates on your cosmetics, but you should know a few basic guidelines. Generally, you should toss liquid foundation and concealer after about six months, but can hang onto pressed powder, blush, bronzer and eyeshadow for a year.

The tools you use to apply your makeup may also be a culprit. If you are going to fard your face with your fingers, make sure they are clean! However, your brushes might be just as dirty. If you don't clean your makeup brushes on a regular basis, they are essentially a magic carpet of bacteria, carrying the germs from place to place and providing a wonderfully dark (and moist, if you keep them in your bathroom) place for bacteria breeding. You should clean all of your makeup tools at least once a month with mild shampoo or a bar of soap, rinse and dry well.

Revelations about your Rx

If your face wash, acne cream and other topical treatments are not working on your acne, check to see what else is in your medicine cabinet. It can be hard to believe the correlation many prescription drugs have with the health of your skin, especially when they are treating something totally separate. But certain prescription drugs can cause acne to develop – corticosteroids and lithium in particular.

Prednisone is the tablet form of steroids, and is commonly used to treat inflammatory disorders like allergies and arthritis. Lithium, lithium chloride and certain forms of iodine can also be offenders, but oral contraceptives are a common culprit, too, since they change hormone levels in your body. Check the "side effects" column on your meds, and talk to your doc about options if the acne is something you can't deal with.

Gabbing with the germs

When you are on a client call at work or are gabbing with your best friend on your cell, you are probably not thinking about your pores and all the bacteria that is being transmitted into them. This is understandable, but phones are one of the biggest zit-causers! Ever notice that your chin, mouth and jaw bone get zits when you spend a lot of time on the phone?

Think about it – your work phone is probably touched by several other peoples' dirty hands, and your cell phone is tossed all around your germy purse, left in your crummy coat pocket, placed on the bathroom sink at the bar… You get the idea. Grossed out yet?

All you need to do to is wipe down your phone from time to time with Clorox wipes or something similar. Keep a travel pack in your purse for when you want to stay clean on the go!

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Lauren Stewart
By: Lauren Stewart

Lauren Stewart is a freelancer writer from Michigan. She enjoys writing about beauty, health and fitness! She is passionate about learning new ways to take control of her health and wellness and is a makeup and skincare junkie! You can contact her by emailing