What Really Causes Acne and How You Can Prevent It

Melaleuca has a solution for acne

How common is acne? Tens of millions of North Americans suffer with it—adults as well as teenagers. We spend more than a billion dollars each year trying to fight it. If you’ve dealt with acne, you know how devastating it can be to your self-confidence. No wonder you want to avoid it.

The good news about acne is that you can help prevent it. And when you understand what causes acne, you’ll have a better idea of what measures you need to take to help prevent it.

Where does acne start?

Look no further than your pores. Your pores produce an oil called sebum that helps protect and moisturize your skin. But that sebum can also lead to acne.

Acne begins in the cellAcne starts when your skin’s sebum production is pushed into overdrive. When there’s too much oil, the excess oil combines with dead skin cells and dirt to make a sticky mass that plugs the pore.

Once the pore is plugged, sebum builds up, making an ideal environment for P. acnes. That’s a bacteria already living on your skin. But now it begins to multiply inside the pore. Your body sends white blood cells to attack the bacteria. In the process, an inflamed, painful area appears on the skin.

That inflamed area is a pimple—an acne breakout.

What pushes your skin’s oil production into overdrive?

The primary culprits are hormones—specifically androgens. Your body steps up androgen production in certain circumstances, such as during puberty or when you experience high stress. Those big hormone shifts are why adolescents get acne so often. And those extra hormones are why you seem to always break out before a big event or during a crisis.

Androgens stimulate your skin’s sebaceous glands. Simply put, the more androgens in your body, the more sebum your skin produces—and the bigger risk you have of getting clogged pores.

Can the foods you eat lead to acne?

Yes—at least, according to emerging research. Foods with a high glycemic index are being linked to acne formation. That means white bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes might be increasing your risk of a breakout. But believe it or not, there’s still very little evidence that chocolate or greasy foods cause acne.

So how do you avoid getting acne?

To prevent acne, you need to keep your skin clear of all that excess oil—and free of dead skin cells as well.

Skin pore cleansing by MelaleucaSalicylic acid keeps your skin free of debris.

Salicylic acid, an FDA-approved antiacne ingredient, is gentle on your skin but a tough acne fighter. Salicylic acid helps keep your skin free of dead skin cells. Skin free of debris means pores that stay unclogged—and that’s the key to preventing acne.

Benzoyl peroxide works differently—and at a cost.

Benzoyl peroxide, another FDA-approved acne fighter, kills P. acnes but doesn’t increase your resistance to the bacteria—and it doesn’t keep your pores clear of debris. Its possible side effects include excessive drying of the skin, mild skin irritations, dermatitis, allergic reactions, and even bleaching of clothing.

A gentle, effective daily regimen is the best acne prevention

Melaleuca's Clarity productsAs the average age of the acne sufferer rises, the needs of the average acne sufferer also change. Teenagers might be more willing to slather their faces with acne treatments that dry their skin. But adults want skin that stays soft and supple, even while fighting acne breakouts.

Clarity Clear Skin Essentials, developed by Melaleuca, is just what acne sufferers of all ages are looking for.

Clarity is a complete 4-step acne prevention system with salicylic acid, along with many beneficial moisturizers, vitamins, and antioxidants to soothe and hydrate the skin. Preferred by 4 out of 5 people in a recent in-home use test, this system is gentle enough to be used daily without drying or irritation, yet effective enough to stop acne before it starts.

And Clarity is the only acne prevention system with soothing T36-C5® Melaleuca Oil inside.

Seven simple habits can give you clearer, stress-free skin

1. Use an acne prevention system that keeps your skin and pores clear of excess oil and debris.

2. Limit your intake of foods with a high glycemic index.

3. Keep your hands away from your face. They’re covered with pore-clogging oil.

4. Change your pillowcase every few days.

5. Go for a loose outfit that doesn’t rub and irritate your skin during exercise.

6. Wash your face with little or no scrubbing.

7. Dab your face dry with a towel instead of wiping it.

Thank you to Melaleuca, Inc. for this Wellness Article


  1. Healthy Skin Care Basics - Melaleuca Journal on January 9, 2013 at 6:01 am

    […] daily with a gentle facial cleanser and moisturizing body wash to keep  it hydrated and free of pore-clogging […]

  2. Ashley Sterin on October 9, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    Thank you so much for all that info! I am going to start doing that and see if it helps! I hope it does help because if it does, my skin and I would be SOOO HAPPY!!!!! And one question… does this only work for face acne or can it work for acne all over your body? And sorry one more thing…. where can you get that Clarity face wash stuff? I MUST REALLY NEED IT!!!!!! Thank you SOOO much for all this! And please email me the answers!