Our Visitors’ Theories

We asked our readers “Do you have any theories about what causes your acne?”

Here are their responses:

“the weather in texas, using the wrong products.”

“My skin won’t stop producing oil!”

“my dads side of the family had it”

“i don’t drink enough water..?”



“no. i don’t know why it could only be occuring around the mouth. i’m just developing beard but i don’t think it is the problem”


“Genetics. My mother’s fifty-three and still has effing acne. Also based on this survey, the fact that I basically never go outside. Aaaaand all the fruit. And sleeping at two in the morning.”

“I run on the treadmill at least 6 times a week-but i never wear make up during that. Maybe that contributes? Also my eating habits probably.”

“I’ve always had acne of and on and has gotten worse since my pregnancy. I think because I went on anti-biotics at a fairly young age (about 15) my skin has a lessened ability to fight acne independently.”

“Sleeping on my pillowcases…Too much sun exposure…And my father had horrible acne when was my age… And maybe my hair drips oils down on my face… Also, I never broke out, with the exception of one little zit or two, Until i first used a acne medication to just cure the one little zit…I put it all over my face and instead of just having one zit I had forty. Acne medication made it worse it seemed like”

“I run on the treadmill at least 6 times a week-but i never wear make up during that. Maybe that contributes? Also my eating habits probably.”

“Hormones, since im only 17”

“Hormonal? I don’t wear make up on a day to day anymore and when I do, I keep it to powders and oil-free kinds. I switched to better skin care products and I drink at least 3-4 bottles of water a day. I have bangs, but I don’t think it’s my hair because my forehead is clean. I have it mostly on my cheeks, so I think it’s hormonal. I think of anything else that could be making me break out.”



“i touch my face”

“I think it has a lot to do with stress and a sluggish digestion system. Possibly hormones as well?”

“i mostly get acne when my face gets oily/shiny. basically my skin is only matte when i exit the shower. when my face sweats i feel an itching and the next day theres a pimple”

“hormone flucuation-stress”

“mineral makeup? hormones?”

“Hormonal. My skin was at its best during both of my pregnancies. I also think the overuse of commercial products (Proactiv, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid) has made my skin dependent on them”

“vitamin deficiency, hormonal imbalance”

“Digestive issues. Typically, I believe breakouts one the forehead are related to digestion and I struggle with my digestive tract.”

“genetics, picking, hormones, nothing I do ever gets rid of it.”

“I believe the cystic acne in my 20’s was caused by an infected gallbladder.”

“genes. a lot of my family has similar scars on their face.”


“I believe my acne is hereditary and also brought on by stress.”

“I have oily skin. Other than that I can’t imagine why because I keep it clean and use things to make it healthy.”

“Hormones, Hormones! life!”


“i believe i am just prone to getting it due to my sebum glands. i also was thinking i could be allergic to something. thinking about getting a food allergy test. i also think my acne has caused me my anxiety and so i worry and stress about it.”

“yes stress and hormones”

“my skin type. I think the dry skin blocks the sebum in my pores..I don’t exfoliate enough? And maybe hormones?”

“I have dry skin mostly so maybe the flakes are clogging the pores? Hormones..”

“hormonal changes +30.”

“maybe an allergy, but I’m not sure. I feel like I do everything right and nothing works.”


“No idea, comes and goes. It was fine during the summer, now its bad. Haven’t used medication for ages.”

“I have crappy sleep, generally interrupted by night sweats. I’m sure this is a contributing factor.”

“Very poor diet in the past and using lots of topicals”

“Hormonal, yeast overgrowth, food allergies (?)”

“I always have way better skin during the summer. I’m outside all day in the sun and I sweat a lot. I figure thats gotta be part of it”

“Stress and exhaustion would be the obvious, hormones as well, beyond that I wish I knew!”

“Stress, lack of sleep, processed food, lack of involvement outdoors, less physical activity.”

“I have a lot of stress and I have very good hygiene but I am ocd about my skin.”

“I have had theories that my clothes have not been clean enough and that’s why I break out on my chest and back. I simply cannot get rid of it. I’ve noticed that when I am off my birth control my skin tends to break out worse, so I also have wondered if it is due to hormonal imbalances.”

“diet, dryness, stress,”

“smoking cigaretes, eating greasy foods, candy”

“I thought it was from eating at like McDonalds or somewhere greasy like that, but its been over a month since I have done anything like that, and I think my acne has only gotten worse!”

“hormones, stress, anxiety level”

“not sure!! bad genes”

“Hmmm. One thing I think is because my mom uses those wax fabric softeners in the dryer, for our towels especially. Another could be because I use the same beard trimmer almost everyday to trim down excess facial that I hate. I can’t think of anything else, since I take care of my body so well JUST because of my skin issues.”

“Yes,this might sound very silly, but I somehow have a feeling that I got acne when I first masturbated,two years ago,from that it all started.”

“chemical inbalance?”

“maybe climate and dietary fluxuations”

“Oily face and I’m still in teenage age ???”

“stress and hormones”

“i have no idea why i have acne. I have tried everything, drink plenty of water.maintain a good hygiene and stay away from greasy foods. always wash my fash, maybe i over clean my skin using harsh products to try to relieve my skin from the oil, but then if i stop using any product and just use water my skin gets worse…”

“When i was younger my skin was extremely oily, but i took care of it with the accuntane. Now, I do not know why it is coming back.”

“i don’t usually get big breakouts occasional pimples and little spots but i believe it can be from stress”

“Genetics – my mother had it, as does my sister. Hormones, bc it got worse after I stopped taking regular birth control and got on low-dose”

“I starting wearing make up when I was in 5th grade. Never washed it off”

“I suspect hormonal imbalance, allergies and intolerances”

“genetics, hormonal, other than that I don’t know”


“yes i definitely believe it has to do with my hormones and the food intake. Thats why I cut back on sodas and I believe that dairy is a big contributing factor because when I stop eating it my face clears up. did a cleanse for 3 days only lemon water with cayenne pepper and maple syrup skin cleared right up!”

“hormonal, genetics”

“oily face, my room is hot”


“possibly hormonal”

“Eating spicy food regularly.”

“hormones, large pores”


“Stress, lack of sleep, and diet.”

“maybe hormonal changes related to stress”

“Heredity, diet”

“I’ve had trouble with letting emotions out, and I feel that imbalances my hormonal system.”

“I do tend to be regularly stressed”


“i don’t get enough sun and i have depression”

“hereditary, health, hormones from my mirena”

“Touch my face when my hands are not clean, not waching the make-up off my face at night some nights, premenstrual acne, heriditary”


“over production of oil in certain areas of my face.”

“generally not optimal lifestyle?”

“possibly stress, but haven’t seen a pattern”


“My menstrual cycle plays a huge role, I just believe this is my genetics and there is no pure cure.”

“I never had acne then I started shaving with an expired aftershave without knowing , Acne followed and I couldn’t get rid of it till now .”

“I think stress adds to it. Also I’ve noticed it’s worse since I’ve moved to the new area I now live in. I think it has to do with the water because it clears up when I leave town. Acne also runs in my family.”

“in cold weather i don’t get that much severe, when my body becomes heat , in summertime its getting worst.”

“use of creatine for a week, genetic factors, some foods, stress, bad luck! …”

“i pick at my face sometimes its hard not to. otherwise its probably heredirary, i just have really oily acne prone skin. its also sensitive and gets red with just any little touch.”

“Stress, food related, liver?”

“I think it is some kind of hormonal imbalance and am quite certain that weather/climate is a contributary factor, atleast in my case.”

“I am unlucky. Like someone being born with down syndome or someone who goes deaf over time. It’s a freak occurrence which I – the least deserving person on the planet – have had the gross misfortune to befall me. It is proof of evolution’s indifference to suffering. It just is.”

“based on my 10+ yrs research..mainly stress..poor diet”

“maybe overeating or lack of sleep”

“I believe it’s a bacterial infection and no matter what I do to the skin on my face, I will continue to breakout until I get the root problem…bacteria”

“given that Ive tried everything except Accutane (never plan to go down that route) and that a recent bloodtest showed my hormone levels to be normal – I strongly suspect a gut problem. Or perhaps an allergy to something. I plan to get tested for foods and non foods as well as nutrients to confirm this.”

“I believe that my acne is a combination of genetics and a bad diet.”

“i have no idea why. and it just seems to be getting worse and spreading. which is really getting tiresome”

“hormones, lack of sleep , hard water”

“hormones and stress”

“no bad genes both my parents suffered from acne my mom had severe acne starting in her 20’s my dad have mild teenage acne but nothing serious”

“Eating lots of sugar? Genetics”

“Started being severe when I had a stressful year leaving home at 19 to do a traveling ministry. I was immediately extremely stressed out by the sudden change of leaving home and friends and started breaking out severely as soon as I got there. It was a 9 month program, never lacking in stress because of the teenagers we worked with, lack of sleep, diet of pizza and cookies and diet coke. No exercise.”

“mostly for stress.”

“food, mainly when i eat chocolate, cheese or something too greasy, breads sometimes aggravate it if eaten too much”


“I really have no idea what to believe, I think i’m kinda slow in the aging, i entered puberty later than the others , and I didn’t have acne when others had. I just believe it is testosterone, but it can be anything.”

“skin irritation ingredients”

“It seems like lately that after I have whole wheat I gat breakouts.”

“Yes! I went to Maui on vacation and my acne almost disappeared. I didn’t figure out until several months later that it was probably the vitamin d. So I started taking a vitamin d supplement but that only helped a little bit until I came across your website and started taking vitamin B, zinc and boron as well. Now my acne is basically gone. I keep thinking it is too good to be true I hope it doesn’t come back.”

“Diet, stress, and genes”

“that I don’t excercise enough and need to sweat out/balance hormones more”

“Honestly, no. Genetics? (my sister had bad acne, too). The Wellbutrin? (I didn’t have such bad breakouts before). Insufficient movement during the day? (I tend to be fairly inactive during the day, though I do still exercise).”

“my family past of abuse has lead to me to be unable to cope with any stress or anxiety I’m prone to depression and I believe it is all linked to my skin.”

“not eating right, so not receiving necessary nutrients. makeup. not sleeping enough. stress. hormones.hair on my face. no exercise. waxing.”

“my mother’s side has it”

“no just not fair and older I am much more an effect it has on my life!!”

“Theories? Besides the fact that most of my family members had had acne in the past, I think it is the crazy sebum secretion and my anxiety. I also think it has to do with an imbalance of hormones that I wish I can control. Other than that I think that my liver is not functioning at it’s best and since the skin is a detoxifying organ, I think it has to do a lot with that.”


“I think i’ve just screwed up my skins cycles, you know by using so many crappy arse products over the years. I’m skeptical about the diet thing, because your average person eats like crap, well most people I know anyway, and I eat REALLY healthy, I’m talking low-gi, full fibre, little wheat, little sugar, little processed foods, lots of healthy proteins, etc.”

“hereditary i guess….hormones”

“genetic from my dad”

“when i use to workout, sun exposure..”


“teenager hormones”

“i think it is my anxiety and stress. i get stressed very easily and cant control it. once i am upset about something, i fixate on it until it is resolved”

“I think at my current age, it is most caused by my diet.”

“My skin seems to produce a lot of oil in the afternoon, and I might be missing some vitamin or nutrient that is important for my skin in my diet.”

“I think my acne is due to hormonal imbalance, sleep cycle ruined and to much gluten.I eat a lot bread or pasta”

“Diet and acne, toxins built up in liver, antibiotics, not enough water, milk, caffeine, sugary foods”

“My mom has the acne so maybe it’s genetic. Maybe my testosterone level is too high for a woman.”

“No idea. Had it since I was a teen. Accutane was the only thing that worked but had to stop after 2 mos because something in my blood test worried my doctor about my liver.”

“Maybe bacteria living inside of me.”


“coming off the pill”

“I don’t eat as healthy as I should and I’m not much of a water drinker, but what’s healthy these days ?! And besides that I shower quite often and I dance but I don’t sweat that much”

“hormones, puberty, could be the food im eating”

“hereditary– mother had it. beginning to think it’s a skin allergy since i am an adult now, who still suffers from acne.”

“Lack of sleep”

“I have tried to change to ‘free’: detergents and soaps. I use Cetaphil soap and cleanser. I think my acne has improved because of changing my detergents, but it has not completely gone away despite birth control and changes in my environment.”


“I touch my face frequently. I also pick at it sometimes. I also use coverup and makeupp.”

“I think that the combination of my genes and being an anxious and shy person (not becasue of acne, but being so since i can remember)is the combination of my acne in my case. I’ve ruled out any other physical possibility by doing tests and eating healthily for long period of time, including drinking lots of water.”

“I think its heredity my mom had adult acne but not bad”

“Genetics, both my parents had acne when they were teens.”

“I drink green tea every day, but I sometimes slip and have coffee if I need extra energy. I like my coffee light and sweet. I think i might be allergic to dairy and sugar.”

“I have no idea why I have acne. I’ve had it for 6 years.”

“yes, my skin got worse when I got back on my adderall”

“A combination of genes, bad diet and picking at my skin all the time”

“Seems like im allergic to something. been on acutane twice now and it still comes back”

“high stress levels, depression, oily skin….eating habits”

“I have no idea, but I have a feeling that my skin just isn’t responding well to what I’m currently using. I also have a feeling stress comes into play a lot.”

“Milk intollerence perhaps.”

“Men on dad’s side of the family all have acne including my father. Diet is probably another factor.”

“oil clogging pores. maybe even diet.”

“I think it might be because of what I eat. During the summer, I used to notice that after I ate fries from McDonald’s, I would get acne. At first, I didn’t believe it (because during the year I would eat McDonald’s like several times a week and had constant acne) but then I tried stopping and it would get less and as soon as I began again, it would come back. But it might be more than just fries. Pizza, hamburgers. I dunno. It might be random. I try fixing my acne regularly and it disappears for a while and for perhaps a day there is nothing that hurts. But then it slowly comes back. Perhaps I need to sleep more because I notice whenever I nap or sleep, my acne seems to go down (but perhaps that’s because of a long period of no touching and relaxing). I try not to scratch or even touch my face.”


“I had anorexia for 3 years and started to actively recover at the start of the summer. About 2 months after is when I suddenly broke out, so I think the combination of a great calorie increase and unhealthy food might have something to do with it. Also, I was on Loestrin birth control since February to bring my period back (anorexia gave me amenorrhea) but I stopped getting my period a couple months before I broke out. So I think my hormones might be screwed up.”

“Genetics, inflammation, and picking”


“I worked at McDonald’s for 3 years, 3 years ago, and that’s when it started. I assumed it had to do with the amount of oil on my face, as well as the food I ate.”

“I think it may be a gluten intolarence as I eat alot of bread and cereal”

“I don’t know. I work out regularly. I’m in great shape. My diet isn’t perfect..but it isn’t awful. No clue why its so bad.”

“My mother had acne as a child.”


“My periods are very irregular. my skin was only good during pregnancy. I have read many articles online about how having hormonal imbalances can cause androgen levels to go up and increase sebum in the skin which is from testosterone. I have also read this can be from excess high glycemic foods so now that i have cut these foods way down i am hoping to see a difference. I also am at the end of a face treatment series that was actually causing more breakouts because i could not wash my face with harsher products or exfoliate so now i am hoping my skin will balance now that this collagan boosting series is over.”

“paxil maybe? i used to have good skin, 1-2 zits maybe in a week and then 1 turned 20 and my face isnt clear at all i have zits all over my forehead and chin”

“I’m truly stumped by it, since I eat a ton of vegetables and fruits and nuts. The only thing I can think of is that I need to cut back my nut consumption drastically, that somehow it’s messing with my sugars (since I usually eat sugars and nuts at the same time).”


“because of my mother’s genes and stress in school”

“Genetic reasons possibly as my father had it when he was young and my brother has it too.”

“Hormones because worse with age…?”

“genetics..I do everything I can! and maybe lack of sleep”

“Oil in skin”

“body still detoxing. and digestive system, stress and hormone inbalance due to the pill.”


“I think my medicine causes it.”

“stress, hormones”

“sleeping on only one side of my face. pillowcase may be oily.”

“I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, I stress a lot and suffer from depression due to hormonal imbalance. I have been told this may be the cause.”


“I have too much gluten and too much chocolate sweets. I’m also suspicious of my cosmetic products causing harm.”

“I think possibly my oily skin, hormonal problems, genes, stress and anxiety, lack of sun and relaxation”

“stress, ovarian cysts, oily skin, too much sugar in diet”

“It came out of no where. I mean I had just far head break outs in the summer but they weren’t bad this past summer. Right before I started my new job. Maybe nerves. Since working I haven’t been drinking much water, I used to drink a lot more, and now I’ve been drinking nothing but coffee. So I think It could be stress, too much coffee, and klonopin, also not eating as good as I used too.”

“Hormone imbalance?”

“used steroids in past”

“sweats sodas”


“imbalances all around. if my diet isn’t great, I see a flare up. If I take an over the coutner drug, I see a flare up. I just have to be super gentle on my body and skin to have it behave.”


“I thought maybe from not washing my hat enough because i used to wear one every day when i was in the military, but i have been out for 3 years now, and i still have it”

“I’m stressed out, my body has a lot of toxins, my skin is oily, I pick my pimples, I could go on forever about why i think i have acne.”

“Vegetarianism or location, as my acne first arose when I moved away to college and became a vegetarian (which I did at the same time, about 2.5 years, ago, and the acne has not cleared up since)”

“I’d say hormone imbalance, and a lot of toxins in my body”

“Hormonal since it seems it all began with the first pregnancy.”

“I think 95% my acne is because of clogged skin pores. i need really good deep skin cleansing solution.”

“stress is the only thing I can come up with”

“hormonal imbalance and stress”

“eating diary products”


“Genes. I’m also not sure how much water helps my skin. Sometimes I think it makes it worse.”

“Mercury dental fillings (amalgam).”

“Insulin resistance (however I am skinny) leaky gut, hormonal imbalance”

“When i follow a strict paleo diet my acne gets 90% better but then after about two weeks i get tired of eating like that. I also thank maybe i have a candida overgrowth from all of the antibiotics i have taken.”


“genes, mum and uncle both had problems with acne from my grandpas side”

“I have flare ups when my hormones change, and then i constantly have tiny white heads that just look bumpy”

“my parents have/had acne. my mother still has skin issues.”

“I think my acne is related to diet, stress, and possibly allergies to makeup. It’s also exacerbated by compulsive picking.”

“Genetic+bad routines”

“NO- I wash my face correctly everyday”

“A mix of lack of sunlight in the winter and not changing bedsheets to often (even if I change once a week)”

“It must be genetically. I do what I can to get rid of the acne but its still there.”

“I get stressed easily. This could be possibly a reason, but probably no the only one.”

“I’ve always felt that my acne was related to my diet and exercise regime. I did go through a mild case of anorexia a few years ago in which i exercised for 2 hours a day and ate perhaps a salad a day and my skin was perfect ! Nevertheless I don’t want to go back to that stage in my life. The problem is that I don’t have a lot of time to put into my skin. I am in school in pure and applied sciences and the majority if my time is taken by that. Therefore I don’t have time to exercise more than twice a week and eat the perfect diet (although i am vegan). That is why I believe my skin is not very nice. Nevertheless this is simply what i think and may have nothing to do with reality.”

“some kind of imbalance from within”

“I don’t wash my bed sheets that often. I maybe wash them once every two weeks.”


“maybe using too many different products on my face”

“i believe my acne could be genetic or hormonal, because my dad and aunts use to have. my brothers also have acne. and hormonal because i get more when my monthly is about to arrive.”

“bad diet not exercising”


“something internal i recently developed eczema dandruff and acne”

“no, maybe lack of exercise, not enough water, my diet could be purer.”

“Night shift, too much dairy, bulimia, lack of sleep.”

“stress level, immune dysfunction due to my illness (cfs)”

“No theory, I know why. I’m Gluten Sensitive & Acne is 1 of many allergic reactions I have to it. Very, very, very hard avoiding it.”


“I have a bad habit of picking little spots, but I think it tends to flare up when I have a lot of sugary food in a month”

“I used oily moisturizers for about a year, sun makes it worse, and my diet”

“hormonal, nutritional, vitamin mineral deficiency”

“bacteria and oily skin”

“i believe it is because i need a better facewash and maybe some necessary vitamins”

“Genetic and medication induced.”

“Hormones, possible deficiency from vegetarian diet, graveyard position for my job.”

“I believe I have an autoimmune disorder of some sort because I spent a good amount of my life indoors without exposure to nature and I was too clean as a child.”

“It started with hormonal birth control, but I took it out over a week ago and have seen no improvement so far. Could be lack of sleep from having a baby, and stress. Also maybe lack of sunlight in the winter since I am usually clear in the summer”

“Hormones/ poor diet?”


“hormones and dna”



“Hereditery, caused by facial hair stress”

“I know my picking aggravates it, but not sure as to the main reason”

“Not drinking ebough water and not eating healthy”

“Wearing too much make up, dehydration and poor diet”

“probably genetics”

“I think I had it due to physical and emotional health issues”

“Hormones and stress possibly.”
“Hormones, stress, and possibly a gluten sensitivity”

“food allergy/intolerance or hormonal/digestion issues”

“not enough sun exposure would be my guess.”

“Listed where I described my acne”

“Food intolerances, too much sebum, bad sebum quality?”

“hormonal imbalance as i have multiple symptoms. including lowered sex drive moodyness and acne. i believe the pill has contributed to my hormone imbalance. stress. although i excercise i think i need to do more”

“My theory is oversensitive sebaceous glands which produce a high level of oils and my body has p. bacteria that feed off of the excess oil. Also, the fact of irregular shape in these hair follicles do not allow skin within cells to shed
properly resulting in cystic acne.”

“eating too much junk food and not eating lettuce, spinach, etc.”

“I have thought about hormones, used birth control, makeup, now I am gluten free for the first time and have cut refined sugars out, nothing seems to help. I am thinking about cutting dairy out now.”

“I’m sure stress is a big reason, poor diet, caffeine, cigarettes, make up and touching my face are causes”

“diet not being optimal. Gluten intolerance. Some spiritual aspect. Genes.”

“Caffeine, stress, sensitive skin, hormones, food sensitivities, not using the right cleansing system, exercise, unbalanced life”

“Because I’m unlucky :(”

“I think it has something to do with my hormones.”

“I have no idea”

“Heridity, oily skin, SSRI meds.”

“hormonal disorder i guess”

“I belive my acne is hormanal and that I inherited it from my parents who both had very bad acne. My mother still have cyclic breakouts.”

“Hormonal reasons.”

“Most likely my skin isn’t getting enough moisture and is having to produce more oil which leads to acne.”

“Genetics, maybe diet”

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