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June 8, 2018

If Your Skin Is Freaking Out, Look to These 7 Potential Causes

We’ve all been there. We wake up and look in the mirror and it’s like a monster took over our face. Before you douse yourself in more sheet masks and exfoliators, stop to take a minute and think about why your skin is freaking out.


You’re staring at your face in the mirror in disbelief. The panic is rising. “What did I do???” is the internal dialogue playing over and over in your head. I’m not sure exactly what you did, bb, but I’ve been there myself: Your skin is freaking out. Let me help you by offering some common causes and giving you a checklist of what to avoid to help you get the best skin possible!


You over-exfoliated


When a friend of mine messages me in a panic asking what to do about their skin, 80% of the time it’s freaking out because of over-exfoliation. I’m not even kidding. The amount of “OMG WHAT DO I DO NOW?”’s in my inbox is astounding.


My advice is a simple “slow down, boo!” What I mean by that is always patch test. That 40% mandelic acid peel might have worked wonders for your friend, but your skin is not your friend’s skin. Patch test that shizz on your jawline in a very small spot. If it gets red and angry on that little spot over the next 24 hours, it’s time to swap it for something less harsh. Unless you’re into walking around looking like you skid on the highway on your face.


skin is freaking out


You’re getting lax with the sunscreen


“But I apply sunscreen every morning!” you say?


That’s dope! But what about reapplying it? Oh, you forgot that part? Well, don’t! Set a reminder alarm on your phone if it keeps slipping your mind. Products like sunscreen sprays and pacts make reapplication stupid easy and stupid portable, so there’s really no excuse on this one.


You forgot to switch over to seasonal appropriate skincare


This is especially important if you’re a skincare newb and have worked out your perfect routine in a season past. What’s perfect for June is most likely not perfect for January. Add, subtract, and switch out winter products for summer when the time comes. A good rule of thumb is you generally need more moisture (emollients and occlusives) in the winter and hydration (humectants) in the summer. Experiment until you find your right combination for the major shifts in weather.


skin is freaking out


You’re not sleeping enough


Under-eye circles are genetic — they’re a sad reality for a lot of us. Thin skin coupled with fair skin is like a little window straight down to the dark hues underneath. Aside from a killer concealer (haaay, Iope!), the best thing you can do is get an ample amount of sleep. I don’t have to tell you that a lack of shut-eye makes dark rings around your eyes much worse. It’s one of the few things we have control over when it comes to bags and circles, so let’s do all that we can. 화이팅 fighting!


beauty sleep skin is freaking out


You’re not changing out your pillowcases


Your routine is down pat, you’re doing all the right stuff, but your little bumps won’t take the hint and leave? Have you considered changing your pillowcases weekly? Think about it: All the oils in your hair and potentially silicone heavy styling products are squished into that fabric when you hit the hay. If you’re a side sleeper, your face is getting equal squish time into that same fabric, so let’s keep it clean y’all! Besides, what’s nicer than fresh bedding?


You forgot that your nasty oily fingers were all over your phone screen before taking that hour-long call from your mother


Same as above, but this time your phone may be the culprit. The surface of our smartphones are freaking naaaaasty. Phones were always gross, but with how much we drag our fingers along the screen nowadays, it’s a whole new level of yuck. Oil, germs, bacteria, it’s allll on there. Here’s an iPhone-centric article about how to properly clean your phone, but obvs this goes for any kind of device  If nothing else, cleaning your phone might just save you from a nasty cold or illness.


skin is freaking out
Jun Ji Hyun in The Legend of the Blue Sea.


You’re not eating right


Will chocolate cause acne? No. But your skin is an organ and part of your body. Your body’s overall health is going to show up like a neon sign on your skin. It may not be in the form of acne (although that’s a possibility), but it could be in the form of sallowness, dullness, or rashes. You don’t have to go full-on health nut, but be sensible. Try to include as many fresh whole foods as possible, and keep the processed food to a minimal. Your skin and body will thank you for it.


Through process of elimination, these tips will hopefully restore your skin to its former place of Nirvana. (The place, not the band.)


What do you do when your skin is freaking out? Are any of these causes the one that’s usually the culprit? Share with us if you have a different freakout cause!



Coco Park is an author, beauty journalist, blogger, podcast host, and all around oddball living in Montreal Quebec with her family. Originally from the southern USA, she worked for several years in the makeup industry as a professional makeup artist and holds a certificate in esthetics. She is a proud member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Want to know more? Check her out on the Beauty Beyond Basics podcast, on her blog, on Instagram @thebeautywolf, and in her book "Korean Beauty Secrets: A Practical Guide to Cutting-Edge Skincare & Makeup."




I totally agree with the fingers one—I somehow hold my face in the exact same spot, and there's always a pimple that pops ups there! And the sleeping tip: I swear that less sleep doesn't just cause eye bags but also more acne and oiliness and dullness.


I'm super obsessive about not touching my face at all unless I've first washed my hands. I even do this after I've applied conditioner in the shower — I'll wash my hands with soap and then apply cleanser to my face. I swear it's made a difference in the little clog-type pimples (as opposed to the inevitable hormonal cyst, which practically nothing can help).


Our hands are SO gross. I totally second with you on the no-hands-on-face obsession.


Can we add *back from vacation and not liking American portion sizes* to this list? *SOB*

All I know is I ate Korean fried chicken all the time in Korea and not a single breakout. Less than a week back on US soil and hello red spot! 😭😩😫

Miranda Rico

the food one is SO important! i wish allergy tests were offered for free + required for everyone... i just learned i'm allergic to egg and it caused such bad hives that my neck + lower half of my face is covered in acne-looking scars T_T *drowns self in vitamin c*


I'm so anal retentive about switching up my skincare for the seasons. Where I live it's either extremely hot and very dry, or cold with lots of random wind and very dry, so I absolutely feel the need to switch my skincare come fall. I also spent last summer completely over exfoliating my skin because I was learning that less is absolutely more lol.