Does Touching My Face Cause Acne?

Does Touching My Face Cause Acne?

Published by Cora Nelson - Founder/CEO/Esthetician of Studio Blu Acne Clinic and Acne Safe Products by Studio Blu on 1st May 2015

Whether I was playing basketball, zoning out in class, or crawling down the traffic-laden 101, one no-no habit I used to have was constantly touching and rubbing my face. From wiping post-workout dew off my forehead to incessantly rubbing the two stubborn hairs under my chin (which tweezers can’t seem to conquer), my hands and face have had a long-term partnership since birth. Growing up, my Nana would scold me up, down, and sideways about it.

“If you keep touching your face, you’re going to get pimples!”

According to the US National Institutes of Health, people touch their faces an average of 3.6 times per hour. Your hands connect with millions of germs through doorknobs, money, smartphones, sports equipment, and more. And, guess what, you just transferred all of those icky germs to your face. Nana was right. Face-touching can absolutely lead to breakouts.

I die a little inside when I am at a local basketball or soccer game, and I see young people wiping their face on their hand, sleeve, or even pulling up their collar to wipe their chin. Please, please stop. You are going to severely regret it later.

You might think you’re off the hook if you use hand sanitizer religiously, thus lowering the chances of a breakout? Sadly,hand-sanitizers are just as sinful and many contain pore clogging ingredients, including PEG-7 (polyethylene glycol) Glyceryl Cocoate. With prolonged skin contact, this coconut oil derivative can cause dead skin cells to back up, causing acne, or dermatitis.

Before you grab that box of tissues to muffle your sorrows, stop and read the ingredient deck. Yes, seriously, some tissues have ingredients. Most likely, what you may see noted at the top is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). This key ingredient in lotion facial tissues has been shown to aggravate users with acne and sensitive skin. You’re probably thinking; I can’t catch a break!

With a little extra effort and advice from an Acne Specialist, your skin can escape reasonably unscathed:

  • Phones should be wiped with alcohol wipes, better yet, use a hands-free device. We are not certain, but we think it may be the pressure applied from the phone or your hand that can also contribute to breakouts.
  • Don't lean on your hand during class. Your face may punish you later.
  • It’s helpful to wear something on your wrists like bangles, a watch, or men’s bracelets. They may help remind you that you’re touching your face again.
  • Hand sanitizers, lotions, sunscreens on your hands may contain pore-cloggers. Always check the ingredient deck. Refer to our list of pore-clogging offenders.
  • Don't use your sleeve, collar, or towel while playing sports or at the gym. It is best to use wipes (last we checked the Kirkland Costco baby wipes were free of pore clogging ingredients, but you must check the ingredients on every purchase) or clean, soft paper towels. We like Viva smooth-type paper towels to pat, not rub the face.


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