Some lifestyle changes can cause acne or worsen the skin condition such as pregnancy, stress, diet, medications, and cosmetics.
Some lifestyle changes can cause acne or worsen the skin condition such as pregnancy, stress, diet, medications, and cosmetics.

Hormones are the primary cause of acne. Many people grow out of acne after their teenage years. But, some lifestyle changes can cause acne or worsen the skin condition.

Pregnancy and acne

Pregnancy may have an impact on your skin because hormone changes are at the root of acne. If you had acne as a teen, it might reappear during or after pregnancy. Even women who’ve never experienced acne before may discover skin blemishes during this time.

During pregnancy, your hormone levels change to accommodate your developing baby. While your skin may clear up once you give birth, the process can be slow. Your hormones are still adjusting after pregnancy, and levels may stay unbalanced for several weeks or months.

If you have concerns about acne caused by pregnancy, talk to your doctor. They may be able to suggest a product that is safe for you and your baby or suggest lifestyle changes to help improve your skin.

Stressful situations and acne

If something changes in your life that causes stress, you may develop acne. Research shows that stress causes acne flare-ups. This means that acne isn’t permanent, and your skin should recover once you reduce your stress levels.

Examples of lifestyle changes that may cause stress include:

  • Losing a source of income
  • Starting a new job
  • Yourself or a close family member facing a serious medical issue
  • Moving to a new house
  • Getting divorced or breaking up

If you can identify specific causes of stress in your life, look for ways to lessen its impact in your life. Write down ways you can address the stressor to improve your situation. Talk to your doctor about your stress-related concerns or seek the help of a counselor to help you work through the situation.

Diet changes and acne

Some studies show that people who maintain a healthy diet are less likely to get acne. A diet that’s high in sugar may lead to acne. If you notice changes in your skin, consider any recent diet changes that may contribute to your flare-up.

If you go from maintaining a well-balanced diet to eating sugary foods, your skin may suffer. Once you cut back on the sugar in your diet, your skin may improve again. Having a diet rich in the following foods may help improve your skin's appearance:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Foods rich in beta-carotene
  • Foods rich in vitamin C
  • Foods with healthy fats like fish


Acne is the result of an allergy. See Answer

New medications or supplements and acne

Medications and supplements may have side effects like acne. If you have a medical condition you’re trying to treat, talk to your doctor about acne flare-ups. The same is true of supplements. Talk to your doctor about all vitamins and supplements you take to identify possible interactions.

While the condition can go away over time, you may have to change to a new medication or supplement. There are often many options to treat health conditions, and you can try to find one that doesn’t cause acne.

Hygiene products and acne

Haircare and skincare products can cause acne. If you have a sudden flare-up of acne, think about any changes to your skin or hair care routine. Products include:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Hair spray
  • Lotion
  • Sunless tanner
  • Cleanser or soap
  • Sunscreen

Read products labels to make sure they are:

  • Non-comedogenic
  • Non-acnegenic
  • Oil-free

If you don’t see at least one of these terms on your hygiene labels, the products may cause acne. Stop using the new products and see if your skin improves. If so, get rid of the hygiene products and shop for new ones.

Sports or outdoor activities and acne

Some sports or outdoor activities require you to wear facial or head gear. This may include hats, helmets, face shields, or masks. These items can trap bacteria and sweat against your skin — clogging your pores. If you wear something that covers your head or face, clean the gear between each use. When possible, have several options so you can change out your gear when needed to protect your skin.

Cosmetics and acne

If you wear products like foundation or blush, they may clog your pores. Look for oil-free product labels — similar to the hygiene products mentioned before. When you purchase a new product, spot test an area of your skin for several hours before applying it all over. If your skin has a reaction, stop using the product.

Acne-prone skin is naturally more sensitive. Remove your makeup completely at the end of each day using a gentle makeup remover or cleanser. Prioritize any topical acne medications that you use to clear up your skin. Allow the products to dry before you apply your make-up.


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Medically Reviewed on 9/20/2021
American Academy of Dermatology Association: "Adult Acne."

Cleveland Clinic: "Acne."

Mayo Clinic: "Acne."