Summer Can Be Acne Season 10 Reasons Why Your Skin May Be Breaking Out

Summer Can Be Acne Season 

10 Reasons Why Your Skin May Be Breaking Out  

By Kendall Farr, Licensed Esthetician, SPADA Skincare  

Here’s a common skin scenario: you are well past adolescence, and you still experience breakouts. Why is it that you can have clear skin for weeks, then one day a pimple ( or several) appears out of nowhere? Or you periodically experience cysts along your jawline. Or maybe a cluster of those deep under the surface oil clogs. Is it stress? Not washing your face regularly? Your diet? Is your dirty cell phone to blame? It may be a combo-platter of any of these things and more. The answer often takes some detective work but from white heads to black heads to stubborn cysts, the right treatments and products can turn things around. Here are some likely culprits.  

10 Common Causes of Adult Acne 

1. Do you touch your face often? 

Did you know that your face is the dirtiest part of your body? The dirtiest. Most of us touch our faces subconsciously throughout the day. Meaning any bacteria on our fingers along with everything else we touch- phones, screens, cards, handles, menus (it’s a long and unsavory list) detonates an atomic bomb of dirt and bacteria on our facial skin. While the right cleansing products used every night ( and in the AM) are essential to clean the skin – one of the best acne deterrents is to avoid touching your face altogether to limit disrupting your barrier with breakout-triggering bacteria. 

2. Do you regularly wear waterproof sunscreen?   

For many people, wearing water-resistant sunscreen is their best option for protection but it can cause breakouts. Here’s why: for a sunscreen to repel water, it’s formulated with oil-based ingredients that can potentially slide into the pores and create blockages and an ideal breeding ground for P acne bacteria – the beginning of acne. The result? Pimples. 

There’s a simple hack to prevent this from happening. Layer your sunscreen. Start by applying a sheer mineral-based sunscreen like GM Collin Urban Protection Veil SPF 25 – a broad spectrum mineral screen. What contacts your skin first should be a pore friendly combination of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Over this, apply a layer of a water-resistant sunscreen. The waterproofing will sit on top of the skin’s surface. Think of it as a kind of ‘topcoat’ that prevents oils from clogging the pores. 

If you are an oily skin type, blot your skin with a tissue to remove surface oil and tackiness. An additional option for oily skins: dust on a layer of powder sunscreen over the first two sunscreens. This gives a matte look and ensures that your skin is protected without pore disruption. 

3.Eating more dairy than usual? 

If you can clock more ice cream runs to Love Boat than usual – and you have new breakouts on your chin, jawline, or neck area consider this: it might be a sign that you’re consuming more dairy than your body can tolerate. Nutritional experts hypothesize that since most U.S. milk comes from pregnant cows (and some cows are given additional growth hormones), the hormone levels in milk may play a role in triggering excess sebum production, which promotes acne. Your skin acts as an excretory system to get rid of things that don’t agree with your digestion. When you consume a lot of dairy (it’s harder to digest by nature) it can cause cystic breakouts (those hard lumps that take months to go away) to appear on the lower area of the face. 

And it’s not just dairy. Research consistently links high-glycemic foods – think white bread, pasta, fried stuff -with inflammation and breakouts. Add undigested sugar alcohols from wine and spirits to this list. Try swapping out high glycemic foods for low-glycemic options – high fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  

Pro Tip: dairy and sugar are not the cause of hormonal breakouts. A combination of internal factors like genes and hormonal fluctuations is ultimately to blame. You’re either predisposed to acne pimples or you’re not. That said, external factors (like dairy) can be triggers that make breakouts worse and harder to manage. 

4. Is Your Skin Dehydrated? 

Dehydration happens when your skin cells lose needed water to stay hydrated and thriving. And a film on your barrier from lingering cleanser residue or hard water residue prevents oil  (sebum)from lubricating your skin. When your skin detects a lack of oil – it makes more oil as a defense. The upped oil production hits a dehydrated surface and the oil instead clogs your pores mixing with dead cells to create a bacteria rich environment. The result is acne pimples. If you have been in the habit since your teens of ‘stripping’ oil from your skin with something astringent, it’s time to stop. Oil is your skin’s ally. This is where your esthetician can help guide you to the right balancing act – cleanser, a toning mist with supportive active ingredients, and a moisturizer to provide daily support. 

5. How is Your Stress? 

Stress can wreak havoc on many—if not all—aspects of our lives. But when it comes to our skin, it mostly manifests into stress acne. 

Chronic stress can trigger a hormone called Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). CRH ramps up sebum production as a stress response which can lead to breakouts. CRH also contains proteins that contribute to inflammation ( meaning more breakouts).  

Stress acne can occur anywhere on the body and face, but is more commonly found on the forehead, nose, chin, and larger areas of the body with a higher concentration of oil glands like the chest, back, and upper arms. And while anyone, regardless of age, can get stress acne, it’s most common for those who are already prone to acne breakouts. 

Stress acne and hormonal acne are often seen as interchangeable, but they are actually very different. Hormonal acne will generally concentrate around your jawline and chin. Stress acne, by contrast, can present as a combination of whiteheads, blackheads, and inflamed pimples anywhere on the body.  

6. Do you skip washing your face at night?  

It’s no news flash that sleeping with unwashed skin, or worse with your makeup on, is both pore clogging and all around bad for your skin. But even if you are a person who skips makeup – hopefully you’ve applied moisturizer and SPF during the day – surface oil, dirt, and debris builds up on our skin each day. And this combination triggers adult acne. For a clear and healthy-looking complexion, double cleanse your face each night with a gentle, sulfate-free cleanser. Determining whether you need a cleanser formulated for acne cleansing or one that targets your dehydration first can be confusing. This is when your esthetician can help you identify your skin type and skin condition to land on the very best combination of cleansing and moisturizing to support your skin.   

My clients hear this from me repeatedly: “Tired people skip their skincare.” The number one reason people skip their nightly face care is exhaustion. If this sounds like you, do your nighttime routine earlier (much) in the evening when you’re less tired. In fact, your skin will benefit from this for a couple of reasons. Did you know your skin has a circadian rhythm and starts to repair itself as soon as the sun goes down? Removing the day’s makeup, dirt, and oil gives your skin a clean slate for the effective absorption of the performance based serums and retinol that will help it look and act ‘younger’ and stay clear. 

7. Have you started using new skincare products? 

When you introduce new products into your skincare routine, you might experience some initial purging. “Purging’ is a process in which lingering breakouts that might have taken weeks (or even months) to surface come up rapidly due to the introduction of ingredients that boost faster cell turnover like Retinol (vitamin A). If the purging continues for more than four to six weeks, this means the products may not be a good fit for your skin.  

Pro Tip: When introducing new products to your skincare routine use one product (alone) for three to four days before adding a second new product into the mix. That way, if your skin reacts negatively, it’s easier to determine which product caused the irritation.  

8. Have you flown on a plane in the last week? 

The cabin of an airplane has extremely low humidity which causes the skin to become dehydrated. Remember, when an oily skin type becomes dehydrated, the skin tries to repair itself by producing even more oil. Since oil breeds bacteria and “bad” bacteria lead to breakouts, flying on a plane can cause problems. 

Pro Tip: Whenever you fly, have two things with you to reset your skin once you’ve arrived. Travel with an exfoliant like GM Collin Intensive Exfoliant with a blend of glycolic acid and pomegranate enzymes   to dissolve dead and dry surface cells. Then deeply hydrate those newly exposed cells with an appropriate moisturizer to reduce oil and bacteria within the pores. Doing these two steps can help minimize post flight pimples.  

9. Are you using an IUD? 

IUDs can cause acne. In fact, this is listed as a side effect of IUDs containing progesterone. An IUD releases progestin into the body. This is converted into progesterone and this in turn converts into testosterone which can overstimulate oil glands. When the oil rush mixes with dead skin cells in the pore lining, breakouts can occur (particularly cystic breakouts).  

10. Have you recently started using a facial scrub? 

When rubbed too abrasively, mechanical exfoliation (scrubs) can increase breakout activity. Often the type of product you apply after you scrub affects this.  Physical exfoliators can potentially create pathways in the pores into which pore-clogging moisturizers can enter. Hello bumps and breakouts.  

Pro tip: When using a facial scrub, choose a gentle cleansing grain like rice powder or jojoba beads. G.M. Collin Phytoaromatic Gommage blends oil-taming geranium oil, jojoba seed oil, and camphor with a polished rice powder for extra-gentle exfoliation that removes pore clogging dead cells. With any mechanical exfoliant – however gentle- it’s best to go lightly over the skin. When it comes time to apply your next product, pay close attention. Choose an oil-free serum like G.M. Collin Hydramucine Optimal Serum loaded with hyaluronic acid (a humectant that hold water in the skin) to guard against dehydration. Follow-up with G.M. Collin Rosa Sea Gel, a soothing, anti-inflammatory moisturizer.  

Suggested Acne Treatments: 

The best acne treatments will begin with a chemical peel to help remove dead skin cells and keep skin clear. Salicylic acid is particularly effective for treating acne. It’s oil soluble, gets into the pores to draw out impurities and breaks up infection.  

If you are new to peels – especially if you are taming acne breakouts- here are three treatment options at SPADA that will launch your path to clearer, brighter skin.  


HydraFacial is patented vortex fusion that works like a vacuum to open pores for gentle extractions and a more effective delivery of active ingredients. It begins with cleansing that incorporates a gentle peel combining salicylic and glycolic acids. Painless suction extracts pores followed by a concentrated booster formulated to address deeper congestion like Murad Clarifying for congested skin that also works to lighten post-blemish hyperpigmentation. This is followed by 10 minutes of anti-bacterial blue light therapy to kill infection in the pores and finished with an actives solution that saturates the skin with intense moisturizers.  Book here.

The Acne Facial  

Recommended for those with active acne infection in need of extensive extractions. Deep cleansing, steam, and exfoliation with a salicylic acid peel is followed by up to 30 minutes of extractions to thoroughly address breakouts and pore congestion. Masking is applied in 2 stages: A blue light mask is applied first to kill bacteria at the cellular level followed by a soothing clay or charcoal mask to further draw out any impurities. Initial recommendation is a series of 4. Book here.

Oxygenating Facial:  

Designed to treat oily and acne prone skin. A 5-step treatment that includes a clinical peel combining salicylic and glycolic acids with serum designed to add oxygen to blocked pores to break up congestion, minimize the look of enlarged pores, and absorb excess oil. Extractions are followed by kaolin clay mask and a complexion calming cream that purifies and soothes the skin. Book here.

Don’t ignore your breakouts. Let our expert estheticians help you find the best path to clearer, healthier skin.