We use cookies for two reasons: to give you the best experience, and to make sure our ads you see on other sites like Google are relevant to you. Please click the button below if you agree to our use of cookies and personal data – find out more or change settings here.

Why Am I Breaking Out?

More people than ever are experiencing adult acne linked to chronic stress, hormonal changes, lifestyle and environment.

To keep breakouts under control, focus on managing stress and eating healthy, supplement your skin care routine with the right products, and seek professional advice.

If you have ever asked yourself “why am I breaking out?” you are not alone. There is no shortage of confusion when it comes to acne, but we are here to help. Our skin health experts break down why most people break out – and how to avoid the most common acne triggers, or at least learn to manage them.

chronic stress
Acne is one of the first signs of a chronically-stressful lifestyle. Adult acne is particularly common among women, who are twice as likely to suffer from severe stress and anxiety as men. Chronic stress triggers an increase in stress-related hormones, which send skin’s sebaceous (oil) glands into overdrive and slow down cell turnover, creating the perfect conditions for acne breakouts. Stressed skin also tends to look tired, uneven, and prematurely-aged.

To reduce the effects of stress on skin, start with deep, slow breathing, which helps decrease tension and anxiety. As you work your way toward a less stressful lifestyle, incorporate preventative measures into your skin care routine such as exfoliation and a weekly masque to help reduce congestion.

hormonal fluctuations
Research has linked the sebaceous glands to the endocrine system, referring to the former as the “brain of the skin.” Stress plays a significant role when it comes to hormones. When the body produces excessive amounts of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, adrenal glands produce less progesterone – which is a natural anti-anxiety substance. This hormonal shift can lead to an internal imbalance, which may lead to breakouts.

In addition to reducing chronic stress, it may be helpful to track when you experience breakouts. If you notice a regular pattern, for example, breakouts after menstruation or routinely stressful encounters, talk to one of our skin therapists on our live chat about how to adjust your skin care routine accordingly. If pregnancy, menopause or a medical concern arises, talk to your doctor.

environmental factors
From smoggy cities to humid summers, your skin might breakout when exposed to certain types of pollution, weather, and seasonal changes. It’s important to switch up your routine to respond to your skin’s changing needs. Exfoliation is an effective way of defending skin against breakouts by polishing away dull, dead skin cells. Dermalogica Daily Milkfoliant Exfoliator is a calming oat-based powder exfoliant that smooths and soothes skin. Dermalogica Daily Superfoliant Exfoliator is a highly-active resurfacer that helps fight environmental triggers known to accelerate skin ageing.

uv exposure
UV radiation dehydrates skin, which can cause it to over-produce oil – so skin ends up even oilier, causing breakouts. Additionally, using the wrong sunscreen can clog pores, worsening acne and breakouts. Protect your skin with a broad spectrum SPF and get a lasting matte finish by applying an SPF moisturizer like Dermalogica Oil Free Matte SPF30 every day.

lifestyle habits
Smoking, under-cleansing, wearing tight or itchy clothing, taking certain medications – all these are lifestyle habits that can affect the severity of one’s breakouts. Certain make-up, hair and skin care products can also contain pore-clogging ingredients that can trigger or exacerbate acne. To help keep pores clear, Double Cleanse daily with Dermalogica Precleanse Cleansing Oil and Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash 250ml.

sugar consumption
Eating lots of sugary, refined foods could contribute to breakouts by triggering more oil production in the skin. Stick to whole grains, vegetables and antioxidant-rich foods to help encourage clear skin. You can reduce excess oil with Salicylic Acid and clay-based products like our Sebum Clearing Masque.

So, what if you’ve taken measures to curb all of the above and you’re still breaking out? Talk to one of our skin therapists on our live chat for more help finding out what the culprit is and get a personalized product prescription with us.

Profile Photo of Alex Echeverri author for John and Ginger
Alex Echeverri
Monday, May 23, 2022
Dermalogica Precleanse Cleansing Oil 295ml Jumbo Supersize
FREE GIFT* spend £80 *t&c

Precleanse Cleansing Oil Jumbo Supersize 295ml


This lightweight cleansing oil is your initial step towards a more thorough cleansing routine. It is specifically formulated to suit all skin types, including oily skin, and is perfect for removing make-up, impurities, sunscreen, and pollutants that accumulate over the course of the day.

£75.00 £64.00
FREE GIFT* spend £80 *t&c