- Washing too often — Has your face been dry lately, or does your skin feel like it has an extra layer of dead skin built up? It could be because you're washing more often than you need to. Over-washing dries your skin out, and then your sebaceous glands respond by overproducing, so you end up with skin that's simultaneously dehydrated and superficially oiled up, leading to breakouts and poor texture.
- Choosing harsh "maximum strength" ingredients — Sometimes stronger isn't better, and that's especially true with skin care. For most users, there's no appreciable difference between the efficacy of low-strength benzoyl peroxide and maximum strength, but the high-strength version is a lot more likely to irritate skin and cause dryness.
- Switching up skin care frequently — Your epidermis is very delicate, and although trying the latest cream or serum might fulfill your desire for something new, it could also throw off your skin's pH, moisture balance, and a host of other factors. So instead of switching over all at once, introduce new products gradually for the smoothest transition.
- Buying an allergenic shampoo or conditioner — If you're having a bad breakout or sudden skin sensitivity and you've recently purchased some new hair care, those products could well be the culprit. Skin allergies to hair products can also show up on your back, chest, and anywhere else you're exposed.
- Forgetting sunscreen — Maybe not now, but soon, and for the rest of your life. Sun damage is hard to cover up, and not protecting your skin causes a host of other problems, not the least of which are acne and skin cancer.
It's an almost-universal experience: your complexion has been fine for a while, and then one day, almost out of nowhere, you're in breakout city and your skin looks worn out and defeated overnight. You're cleansing and using a daily regimen, so what could be wrong? Well, if it's not stress or hormones, it could very easily be one of several smaller, less obvious culprits. See a list of the usual suspects below.