Sunglasses, smartphones and hats can spread bacteria all over your face and cause breakouts, but there are plenty of things that you’re doing yourself that can lead to blemishes and acne. Get your beauty regimen in order if you want to minimize the risk.

Check out the worst skincare mistakes that cause breakouts, and learn how to avoid them in order to keep your complexion looking gorgeous at all times. From using the wrong products to using too many of them, here are the biggest issues that can lead to acne.

Using Comedogenic Products

If you have trouble with breakouts, switching all your makeup and skincare products to noncomedogenic ones is a must. Water-based foundations and mineral powders are much less likely to clog your pores and cause problems. For sunscreen, make sure you opt for an oil-free product in order to minimize the risk of breakouts.

Failing to Cleanse Properly

One of the worst skin care mistakes that cause breakouts is not cleansing your skin the right way. Even the gentlest cleanser needs to be rinsed away completely, for about 30 seconds, to make sure that it’s not sticking around to cause problems later on. Cleansers with salicylic acid are also an excellent choice for preventing breakouts, even if you don’t have acne-prone skin.

Letting Sweat Get in the Way

Whether you’re dealing with warm weather or working out, you’ll notice that you touch your face a lot more often when you’re sweating. Any friction can contribute to clogging pores, so you should think of using wipes instead of your hands when you’re sweating a lot.


Once or twice a week is enough to keep the dead skin cells away. Excessive exfoliation is one of the worst skin care mistakes that cause breakouts. If you’re using either scrubs or chemical exfoliants three times a week or more, scale it back in order to let your skin restore its natural balance. Without it, inflammation and breakouts are more likely.

Drying Out Your Skin

Whether you have oily skin or combination skin, it’s very tempting to strip away all the sebum with harsh cleansers or tonics. However, drying your skin will only increase the risk of irritation. A mild cleanser, that also contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, is a good choice. Avoid any toner with alcohol and opt for witch hazel, a natural astringent.

Breakout Panic

Using Dirty Makeup Brushes

Every makeup brush you use should be regularly cleaned. If you prefer using your fingers to blend, they also have to be pristine when you touch your face. Allowing old makeup buildup in your brushes is one of the worst skin care mistakes that cause breakouts. If you want to avoid the issue, get a brush cleaner, and be extra careful about keeping your foundation brush clean.

Using Too Much Moisturizer

A thick and creamy moisturizer can clog pores, but even a light one can be damaging when you’re simply using too much. Make sure that you’re not overloading your skin with moisturizer, and that you’re gently massaging it for quicker absorption.

Layering Too Many Products at Night

Even if you don’t overdo it with the moisturizer, using too many products before bedtime can also be one of the worst skin care mistakes that cause breakouts. Stick to a single serum after cleansing. Alternate products instead of layering them, since they’ll be less effective when you go too far.

Pressing Dirty Objects Against Your Face

Once you start making sure that you’re not touching your face all the time, you should also sanitize anything that comes in contact in your face, including your smartphone and your glasses. A Bluetooth headset or wired headphones with a mic can help you spread less bacteria on your face.

Messing Up the Order of Application

One of the worst skin care mistakes that cause breakouts is leaving the products that protect your skin for last in your skincare routine. Applying products with a lighter consistency after a heavy moisturizer will drastically reduce their benefits. So make sure that products with salicylic acid go on first for it to be as effective as it should be.

Top illustration by Natalie Dee