The NAA was founded on a strong belief in the tie between nutrition and skin health. We’ve seen dietary changes improve skin in incredible ways, and we’re shouting that message from the rooftops.

But sometimes, diet isn’t the root of a skin issue at all.

We see this nowhere more commonly than with acne. Sometimes the culprit for a breakout is stress, sometimes it’s skincare products—and sometimes it’s just a dirty routine!

Before you go on a pantry purge to try and identify the food culprit for that pesky patch of blemishes, you may want to try some routine cleaning. You could find that it’s an unwashed pillowcase or germy cellphone that cause your frustrating breakouts.

Here are 14 of the most overlooked, blemish-causing sources of germs that we’ve found in our daily routines:

  1. Skipped face washing. Even if your makeup claims to be ‘pure enough to sleep in’ or has non-comedogenic ingredients,  you can be sure that it will cause breakouts if left on your face overnight. Makeup should not sit on the skin while you sleep, especially if it has pigment, mica, or physical minerals like zinc or titanium dioxide.
  2. Lazy face washing. You only have energy for a few rubs and a quick splash before you hit the hay. But the leftover products and cleanser remaining on your skin isn’t going to make you happy when a blemish crops up in the morning.
  3. Dirty towels. You’re washing your face well, only to cloak it in dirt and bacteria again with a towel that’s been used by a dozen other hands. Instead, try using a fresh towel to dry your face every time you wash. Invest in a pile of good quality cloths that will last for years and wash them often.
  4. Fabric softener or fragrance residue on laundry. Unless you’re using a fragrance- and chemical-free laundering product, you could experience skin irritation from the lingering cocktail of chemicals on your freshly-washed fabrics. Skip fabric freshening sprays as well. Instead, spritz laundry with your own blend of quality essential oils. We love a mix of lavender and ylang ylang.
  5. Residue from hair products. Gel, mousse, pomade, and hairspray can take up residence on your forehead and temples. Your shampoo and conditioner can also build up around your hairline, causing irritation and blemishes. Remember to rinse well in the shower, wash hands to remove all hair product before you touch your skin, and cover your face before spraying styling
  6. Makeup brushes. When was the last time you cleaned that bronzer brush? Wash your brushes weekly with warm water and castile soap, reshape and let air dry. Then store them in a closed container, not out in the open where they can collect dust, mold, and moisture.
  7. Greasy glasses. At least once a day, place a drop of castile soap on your wet, clean hands and lather your glasses, rinse with warm water and dry with a clean, soft cotton cloth. Keep your glasses in a clean case when not in use. Sunglasses too!
  8. Kiddie hands or doggie kisses. We’ll be the first to tell you that love is a key ingredient to healthy skin, but when it’s the messy, sticky or slimy variety, and it’s all over your face, think about cleaning more frequently. Not near a sink? There are some great non-toxic, travel-friendly face wipes on the market these days.
  9. Unwashed pillowcases. Your pillowcase collects oil, dust and product residue, making it a major source of breakouts. Try keeping a clean stash of clean pillowcases in a closed container in your nightstand for ease of use. Also consider the couch pillow that your partner tends to favor, and wash those slipcovers as well
  10. Germy cellphones. Maybe you’ve heard the news that your cellphone can be dirtier than your toilet?  To keep your cellphone clean, make a few clean phone kits to keep in your purse. Fill two small spray bottles with a 60/40 mix of water and isopropyl alcohol, and cut two small microfiber cloths into quarters. Separate the supplies into two sandwich bags. Every few days, lightly spray a clean cloth and wipe down your device. And remember, when you are using your cell phone, don’t press it against your face.
  11.  Makeup counter testers. Dozens (hundreds?) of dirty hands have been in those samples, so when you apply them it’s like a whole neighborhood touching your face! Always test products on your hand or the inside of your wrist. For foundation, ask the salesperson to dispense a small amount from a clean bottle and apply to your jawline with a disposable applicator.
  12.  Tight workout gear. It’s cute, it’s aerodynamic—and it’s so tight that your skin can’t breathe! Look for sweat-wicking, breathable materials like bamboo that allow sweat to evaporate instead of being absorbed and in constant contact with your back and shoulders. Also, wear a clean headband when you exercise to avoid hairline breakouts.
  13. Water quality. Water with a high mineral and metal concentration could be sabotaging your skin. Invest in a faucet and shower filter, or a whole-house water filtration system.

And finally…

14. Your hands. Our most overlooked tip may be the most obvious: no more touching your face!

Have you figured out a sneaky breakout culprit in your daily routine? Tell us your tips for a clean routine that supports clear skin!


Makeup brush image by Sodanie Chea.