Can Skincare Cause Acne? Reason why your skincare routine might at fault

Using a skincare routine and having skincare as part of your life might feel like the answer to zero acne, but that's not always the case. With everyone's skin being unique to themselves, what works for others might not always work for you.

Let us share some answers to your question "can skincare cause acne?" in some instances.

Can skincare cause acne?

The short answer is yes, skincare can cause acne. The over usage of acids, over-exfoliating, skin sensitivity & allergies and using products that are too heavy for your skin type are all examples of instances that can lead to acne breakouts. Additionally, what works for others simply might not work for you. 

But how exactly does this happen?

1. Over-Exfoliating

Let's talk about over-exfoliating. With exfoliating techniques commonly being a trendy topic, it's easy to pick it up as a simple skincare steps, but exfoliation is a double-edged sword.

While having an exfoliation routine can help reduce acne, clogged pores, fade acne scars and give skin a lovely glow, too much of it can have the opposiute effect.

As the saying goes, "too much of a good thing can be bad" the same is true for all forms of exfoliation.

When we exfoliate our skin more than is needed, we end up damaging our skin barrier. Our natural skin barrier is responsible for protecting our skin from external aggressors that can trigger breakouts, redness, irritation and other skin conditions such as contact dermatitis, fungus and parasites.

The golden rule for proper exfoliation: only exfoliate the skin once to twice a week.

Recommendation: This soft facial brush made from Japanese silk gently offers daily exfoliation without resulting in over-exfoliation.

CAN SKINCARE CAUSE ACNE Why your skincare routine is at fault barejapan japanese skincare products online store tomioka silk facial brush

2. Overuse of acids

Similar to over-exfoliation, acids are commonly a form of exfoliation. The over usage of acid exfoliation can lead to a damaged skin barrier.

Acids such as:

  • AHA(alpha hydroxy acid)
  • Lactic Acid(a form of aha)
  • Glycolic Acid(a form of aha)
  • Mendalic Acid(a form of aha)
  • Vitamin C(a natural acid from citrus)
  • Retinol (a form of vitamin A)
  • BHA(beta hydroxy acid)
  • Salicylic acid(a form of bha)
  • HA(hyaluronic acid)
  • Sodium Hyaluronate(a form of HA)

These are some examples of popular and common acids that can easily be overused. Even acids that don't directly exfoliate the skin can have a negative effect on the skin when overused. 

The golden rule for acids: Start introducing them slowly into your routine until your skin adjusts to routine usage. Start once every two weeks and build up to once to twice a week.

Recommendation: This gentle acid toner with vitamin c and hyaluronic acid

CAN SKINCARE CAUSE ACNE Why your skincare routine is at fault barejapan japanese skincare products online store hyakkoso facial toner

If you're asking yourself "can skincare cause acne?" and you're using acids in your routine, identify how many and how frequently you're using them. Once done, adjust your skincare routine accordingly.

3. Using products that are too heavy for your skin

As we know, too much of a good thing can be bad. With the question at hand being "can skincare cause acne?" using products that are too rich or comedogenic can lead to clogged pores and acne breakouts. This can be hard to identify in some cases.

An easy way to know if a product is too heavy for your skin is by identifying the follow side effects:

  • Skin becomes extremely oily shortly after use of the product
  • Skin feels weighed down and heavy from the product
  • The skincare "pills" and "crumbles" when touching or rubbing the skin
  • Acne breakouts are occuring along side the above

An easy way to avoid this is to ensure you're shopping for skincare that is recommened for your skin type and age.

Oily skin types

For example, if you have oily skin, you should avoid products that offer "intensive moisture" "Advanced firming cream", "Intense lifting", "Deep moisture". Especially if the texture of these products looks and very thick.

Oily skin types should focus on layering routines that utilize mainly liquids, gels, and milky textures.

Comedogenic(pore clogging) ingredients such as coconut oil, mineral oil and patroleum should also be avoided to prevent acne breakouts.

Dry skin types

Alternatively, dry, dehydrated, and aging skin types that need more moisture, hydration, nourishment and firming ingredients should avoid products made for oily skin types.

Oily skin type products lack what your skin needs. This can result in a damaged skin barrier due to the skin not getting enough of what it needs to stay healthy and strong against external aggressors.

4. Irritants & Allergies

Lastly, if you find yourself asking "can skincare cause acne?", are questioning your skincare routine and don't identify with any of the above, you might have a sensitivty or allergy to one or more ingredients in your products.

It can be difficult at times to find out what ingredient your skin is sensitive to. The best way to begin identifying the culprit to your acne is to begin an elimination process.

The Elimination Process

Discontinue using all skincare products. Use the bare minimum until your acne resolves.

If your acne fades away with a minimum routine, then it is clear one or more of your products was the culprit. Slowly add one product back into your routine at a time. Use each product for 1 week then add an aditional in until you notice the acne return.

This method will help easily identify which product caused you irritation and acne. Investgate and compare the ingredients within each product to help pinpoint what you may have a sensitivity to.


Those are the ways that skincare might cause acne in some people. We hope this guide could help you on your skincare journey!

Check out our selection of premium Japanese skincare products here.