Causes of Acne and Sensitive Skin

by Michelle Doan

| Posted on February 22 2021

For women everywhere, acne is a very normal occurrence. But when you’re dealing with acne on top of sensitive skin, that can be a whole other challenge.

Because for one thing, acne is a lot of things: it can cause a lot of physical discomfort, yes, but it can also create mental discomfort, with thoughts like “I’m not a teenager anymore, shouldn’t my acne days be over?” or “what am I doing wrong?”

Not to mention that if your skin’s already sensitive, any attempt at treating breakouts may just exacerbate irritation.

If you’ve ever dealt with similar issues, know that you’re not alone, and clearing your skin is absolutely possible.

Today, we’re treating this blog as a chance to talk freely about acne and skin sensitivity, what causes it, and what you can do about it.

Before we get into it though, it’s very important to clarify that while we are a beauty company that formulates skincare, we are not licensed experts, and if you’re experiencing irregular breakouts, sensitivity, or acne, you should always consult your dermatologist or esthetician about the best way to handle it.

What Causes Acne and Sensitive Skin?

This is an incredibly prevalent question, and honestly, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

At its core, acne is a condition caused by specific hormones known as androgens, and because of their tendency to increase during puberty, we often associate acne with teenagers. 

However, it’s just not accurate to assign acne as an adolescent occurrence, because this stigmatizes cases for adults.

And spoiler: acne can happen at any time in your adult life.

That being said, a number of things can lead to acne, whether it’s stress, certain foods, or a reaction to a topical substance. Whatever the case, though, this is what’s happening at the core.

With the case of sensitive skin, however, the cause can be far more convoluted, and can be triggered by a number of factors.

For this reason, it really is best to consult a dermatologist in order to discern what’s causing your skin sensitivity. However, it’s widely recommended that those who experience skin sensitivity and acne avoid sulfates, fragrances, silicones and dyes, since these can all irritate skin further.

What to Do for Acne, Breakouts and Sensitive Skin

So what’s one to do when they’re experiencing acne on top of sensitive skin?

As mentioned before, there’s no single cure that’s going to work for everyone, because the cause of acne and skin sensitivity is different for everyone. 

But there are a few approaches that are gentle enough that you can try.

For instance, one of the most basic steps is to find a cleanser meant for acne-prone and sensitive skin. This may sound like a small change, but (hopefully) you’re using your cleanser every day, and if the one you’re using has a formula with potentially irritating ingredients, you’re exposing yourself to them daily!

You can also avoid abrasive, scrubby cleansers. It may be tempting to use these on your acne, but trust us: harshness does no favors for your skin, especially when it’s in such a vulnerable state.

Besides cleansers, also stick with moisturizers that are gentle on acne-prone skin. This means avoiding products made with heavy oils or ultra-creamy textures, and keeping an eye out instead for those with a lightweight, gel-like consistency.

Also stay away from primers and foundations with silicones. While silicones can give your skin a temporary flawless appearance, it might not do your skin the biggest favors in the long run. Not only can silicone clog pores, but it may even disrupt the generation of new skin cells, leaving skin dry and dull.

Whatever you do, though, make sure you’re focusing on what’s gentle on your skin. Because while it may be tempting to look for the next treatment that claims to heal your acne, incorporating new products to your skin won’t do anything if your skin’s not in a state where it can actively heal. So make sure you’re taking care of your largest organ!


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