As a teenager, you can’t wait to become an adult—the freedom of living on your own, the lack of breakouts… Only to grow up and find that you may still have acne well into your 30s. Adult acne can be as intrusive and annoying as breakouts as a teen, many times even more so when you feel as if you shouldn’t be dealing with this issue any longer. So, what gives?

There are numerous reasons why you may still be waking up to acne breakouts. In many instances, it has more to do with hormonal changes, what you are eating, if you are getting enough water, and even stress. All things you may struggle with as an adult, so it isn’t too much of a surprise that adult acne is a thing.

Here are a few things that could be contributing to your adult acne issues and what you can do about them.

  • Never use the same washcloth to wash your face. And if you wash your face with your hands, be sure to wash them with soap first. Too often, we transfer dirt and bacteria to our skin unknowingly—either by reusing a washcloth or our hands.
  • Wash your pillowcase more often than you probably are. At a minimum you should be washing your sheets and pillowcases once a week to remove built up dead skin cells, bacteria, oil, dirt, and dust. If you have frequent breakouts, throw your pillowcases in the wash more often. Also consider using satin pillowcases instead of regular cotton. Cotton fabric absorbs moisture and can chaff more that satin, causing skin irritation.
  • Avoid sweets in the evening (including that cocktail you may be considering after dealing with acne all day). Spiked blood sugar levels lead to inflammation, which can irritate acne. Add in the potential risk for less sleep after a sugar rush and the glucocorticoid your body releases after such, you run the risk for more breakouts.
  • Hormones can spike acne and sebum (oil) production. So, nearing your period, swap your current cleanser to one with salicylic acid and let it sit for a moment longer before washing away to give it a chance to breakdowns the extra oil on your face.
  • Eating healthier in general can help fight against acne by giving your body the vitamins and nutrients it needs for healthy skin. This is especially true when hormones are whacky—avoid the chocolate and opt for something else sweet like strawberries that are high in antioxidants.
  • Sanitize your cell phone. Think about it. Your hands touch nearly everything and touch your phone; your phone goes with you nearly everywhere so its picking up even more germs—and then you touch your face (either with your hands or by answering a call). While you are at it, clean your work keyboard and mouse, too.
  • Turn the air conditioning down at night. Warmer air can cause your pores to expand, allowing sweat, oil left on your unwashed pillowcase, or germs in the air to get into your pores and cause breakouts.
  • Don’t just wash your face before bed, wash it in the morning as well. Washing your face twice a day can be more effective at combating acne-prone skin
  • Don’t pick, poke, or touch a pimple or one you know is coming. Again, transferring germs to your face will only worsen your acne issue.
  • Considering using a retinoid overnight. Prescription or over-the-counter retinols encourage skin renewal, so the dead skin cells clogging up your pores are replaced with healthy cells while the under layer of cells are thickened by collagen.
  • Exfoliate once a week, not every day. Set down the in-the-shower face scrubs, abrasive facials, or harsh cleaners—they aren’t helping but rather hindering your skin care and acne battle. A gentle cleanser with salicylic acid will work just fine to clean out your pores.