Every person who struggles with acne is on a constant search to determine the root cause. Do you get breakouts from stress or hormones? How about your skin care products or something in your diet? Maybe it’s from your menstrual cycle? It is extremely difficult to truly know why you get blemishes, but for those that want to get serious about possibly finding out the true cause, tracking your every move with a calendar just might do it. Here’s how.
For three months, record your daily life on a calendar. While you can use your phone to keep daily notes, I do suggest you transfer them on to a months-view calendar. At the end of a month, being able to see the entire 30-day period at a glance will allow you to look for any possible patterns. It’s helpful to use colored pens and symbols since there will be quite a few things to make note of.
Things you’ll want to track include:
Blemishes: I suggest you number them based on their size; 1 for small and 5 for large. You’ll also want to note what type of breakout appeared. Was it a cyst or a pustule, or simply a small whitehead? You might write ‘P=3’ or ‘C=4’ indicating the type and severity of cysts and pustules. Don’t know the exact names of your blemishes? See the various types of blemishes and possible solutions.
Skin care products: Did you introduce anything new? Or give your skin a mini facial at home with a scrub, peel, and a mask? You’ll want to record any changes or additions to your skin care routine. While we are wanting to find the cause of your breakouts, it’s also helpful to look at when your skin was clear and behaved well. For example, many clients find that when they introduce a well-formulated salicylic acid exfoliating serum, their skin keeps new breakouts from forming, and when they don’t use it, breakouts can appear.
Skin care neglect: Did you get lazy and not wash your face before bedtime? Some people can definitely experience blemishes from not washing the dirt, oil, makeup, and debris off their skin the night before so you’ll want to track that.
Hormones and your menstrual cycle: Hormones are chemical messengers created by our bodies to regulate everything from metabolism to cell growth to reproductive cycles and mood. When they fluctuate, they can trigger adult acne and breakouts. Many people find they get breakouts a few days before the start of their period, so tracking this can be helpful. Often times, taking birth control pills or taking vitamin B-6 can help to regulate hormone-induced blemishes, but it’s important to first determine if it appears to be related to your cycle. Read more.
Increased stress: Cortisol, the so-called stress hormone, increases inflammation and can cause breakouts, so tracking when you’re more stressed than normal could be helpful. You can write or type a capital “S” to indicate times of high stress.
Sleep: Lack of sleep has been linked to breakout activity, so recording how many hours you get each night is beneficial. I suggest putting “Z=7” to indicate you had 7 hours of zzz’s.
Diet: Of all the types of food a person eats, sugar and particularly dairy have been associated with acne (especially cystic acne that occurs on the chin or jawline area), so keeping track of everything that goes in your mouth can be really insightful. Often times (however there are always exceptions), food-induced breakouts may occur within 24 hours after eating so keep this in mind as you’re trying to investigate the cause.
Weather changes: When the skin is changing and it’s warm one day and cold the next, it can leave the skin confused and unbalanced and prone to blemishes, so tracking severe weather fluctuations is something to consider.
Airplane travel: Due to the dry cabin air causing increased dry cell buildup on the skins surface, airplanes can definitely cause post-flight dryness and breakouts, so if you’re a frequent traveler, this could be beneficial to make note of.
Overall health: Oral medications, colds, flu’s, and infections can cause stress on the nervous system which compromises your body’s immune system and elevates hormones that lead to breakouts. Make a note of any health issues.
These are just some suggestions of things to track, but certainly record other things that are relevant to your lifestyle.
If clear skin is your end goal, then keeping track of every move in your life might really help you get to the bottom of it once and for all. After three months, share the calendar with your trusted skin care professional or esthetician so they can help you look for patterns to determine the possible causes of your breakouts. Keep in mind that your body is constantly changing, so unfortunately, if you do determine the cause or causes, it could change. This is why breakouts are such a challenge to figure out but be sure to always use products for your skin type.
If you should happen to determine why you’re getting acne, be sure to read my blog for expert solutions.
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Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”