5 Things People Don't Realize Are Triggering Their Acne

We’ve all heard about sleeping in makeup, diet, and stress, but there are some other hidden culprits that can trigger breakouts. So, here are six breakout triggers that don’t enough attention. 

Jade Rollers

Jade rollers are not as innocent as you may think. Excessive rubbing, pulling, or picking at the skin can make acne breakouts worse. By jade rolling, bacteria can spread, and you could push skin cells over an open pore. In turn, oil might be unable to escape - creating more bacteria and inflammation. When more skin cells are pushed over the top, the blockade could cause further breakouts

This is why it's very important to clean your tools. It’s important to sanitize your jade rollers, and If you are acne-prone, unsanitized jade rollers can contribute to irritation and inflammation for acne-prone skin.

Picking the skin

Yes, pressing, pinching, or pulling the skin too aggressively can cause a cyst or a pimple under the skin to rupture. Although not picking the skin is easier said than done, doing so can also cause more scarring and inflammation.

Natural products 

In some people, natural products can make acne worse, trigger acne breakouts, and flare-ups.  A lot of times, natural products are more oil-based. Many natural brands choose not to put preservatives in their products because water is very susceptible to microbes and bacteria. Oil is susceptible too, but not as much. Oil is not always bad, and it can even help acne. However, it depends on the type of oil. A lot of brands call them natural, but the term natural is not regulated. Therefore, the term literally means anything that the brand wants it to. 

Many natural products have coconut oil, which for some people, could contribute to breakouts. However, they often have other ingredients that aren't acne-fighting or even helpful for acne. There could be plant botanicals, specific fragrances, or essential oils. These can irritate the skin, cause redness, or inflammation. For example,  common fragrances like geraniol can actually irritate very sensitive skin. While this isn't true for everyone, a lot of these natural products could contain ingredients that aren't for acne-prone skin. Now again, there's no such thing as being truly natural because natural doesn’t truly mean anything. And did you know that the term non-comedogenic can even be questionable?

The comedogenic scale was largely built on what may generally irritate one person's skin. But, the idea of something being “generally comedogenic” is kind of a fallacy because what irritates one person's has a high chance of not irritating someone else's. So, just because something is natural and non-comedogenic doesn’t mean that it's necessarily for you. 

If you are looking for a product that labels itself as natural but actually helps with acne, Juice Beauty is phenomenal. They have a whole green apple line, and it actually has exfoliating ingredients like AHA and BHA acids which are medically proven to work on acne. It’s great for people who are acne-prone to look for those actives. If the goal is clearing acne, look for ingredients that are medically proven to do so.

Juice Beauty Green Apple Brightening Cleanser -$28

Green Apple Brightening Emulsion Lightweight Moisturizer -$48

Moreover, many natural companies claim how detrimental “chemicals are.” But the truth is that most things are a chemical. Water is a chemical, and so are sulfur, benzoyl peroxide, and salicylic acid. Natural brands tend to discourage these, but sulfur is literally an element, and benzoyl peroxide as well as salicylic can come from willow bark or the wintergreen plant. 

Additionally, the natural beauty industry is so afraid of retinoids, but retinoids are literally the gold standard in acne and dermatology acne care. Also, retinoids are vitamin A, something  made naturally in our bodies. 

All in all, the “clean beauty” industry really likes to label “natural beauty” products as less irritating and therefore, acne-safe, but in reality, there may be nothing acne clearing about them. So, be a little bit cautious when it comes to clean beauty and be aware of actives that are medically proven to help treat and fight those breakouts.


Another thing that can trigger breakouts is traveling. Traveling is not a direct cause of breakouts per se, but it can contribute to them. When traveling, you're changing time zones, which messes with your circadian rhythm, your body's natural sleep, and wake cycle which. These functions are regulated by hormones. 

Hormones like cortisol can contribute to acne, specifically cortisol, the stress hormone. When traveling, your sleep and eating schedules change. Plus, if you're jetlag, that can increase your cortisol levels and cause stress to the body. Not to mention - if you're traveling to a different environment, it could be more humid or dry. For someone’s skin is sensitive, this could cause flare-ups, acne, and some disruption in your skin barrier or microbiome. Also, remember that whether you're going to the snowy mountains or to the sunny beaches, you need to make sure to wear your sunscreen!

Vitamins and Supplements

Vitamins are necessary for our entire bodies, but there are many other supplements that aren't even approved by the FDA. Supplements are not regulated so they could be putting very questionable things or minerals into those supplements that can aggravate acne. So, it's important to be familiar with the brand selling those supplements. It’s also helpful to see if there are tests or data which suggests some sort of benefit. 

The best thing that you can do is go to the doctor, get a blood test, and see what nutrients or minerals you might be a little bit low or too high in. It’s better to take supplements based on your body's specific needs because a surplus or deficiency of certain vitamins can affect the hair and scalp. When your body is working together in harmony, your skin tends to do a little bit better as well. For that reason, vitamins and supplements are super helpful if they are targeted to what you need.