Skin Care

Is Acne Genetic?

If you have struggled with acne for your entire life, you may be frustrated by the fact that finding a cause seems impossible. Is it where you live? Is it what you eat? Is it bad luck? Or is it genetic? Whatever you may think the cause is, acne itself isn’t caused by genetics. However, you can inherit conditions that can cause acne, such as hormonal imbalances or other skin conditions. 

What Causes Acne?

A lot of different things can cause acne. One of those things is hormones. Hormonal imbalances, or fluctuations, of various hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone cause the body to produce more sebum. Sebum is an oily, waxy substance that can inflame pores, leading to a sudden appearance of zits or pimples. 

While natural fluctuations often cause hormonal imbalances, like menstruation and pregnancy, hormones can also be affected by stress, anxiety, or various medications. They can also be genetic and result from certain conditions that a doctor must diagnose. “A lot of acne is a side effect of an untreated, underlying condition. If you’ve ruled out external factors that could be causing acne, I recommend talking to a doctor to run some tests and rule out other conditions that could be causing it,” says Dr. Parks, a certified dermatologist and the founder of DermWarehouse. 

Hygiene is another major factor in whether or not your body may produce acne. Not washing regularly is an easy way to lead to breakouts. Not regularly cleaning your skin can mean a buildup of dirt and sebum, which can inflame pores and lead to acne. However, overcleaning can also irritate your skin, making your pores more susceptible to inflammation and acne anyway. Make sure to find a balance that works well for you and your skin, and take the time to understand your skin type before you begin adding new products into your routine. 

How Do I Clear My Acne?

If you’ve been working on clearing up your skin for a while and haven’t been lucky with your attempts, you may simply be using the wrong products. If you have sensitive skin and acne, try an exfoliant product that is more gentle than retinoids or salicylic acid and will have a less likely chance of irritating your skin. 

Lactic and glycolic acid are great alternatives to retinoids because they’re more gentle. Glycolic acid is a great option for someone with super sensitive skin, so try using that if you’ve had bad reactions to exfoliating products in the past. This glycolic acid facial cleanser from Reviva Labs is a popular choice. The Lactic Acid retexturing serum from StriVectin is also quite popular. 

How Do I Prevent Acne?

Certain ingredients can clog or inflame pores, leading to worse acne than simply not using that product. Coconut oil, alcohols, sulfates, and parabens are all repeat offenders for acne. If any of your products point out that they are paraben or sulfate free, this is why. Make sure the products you’re using don’t contain these and other ingredients that may irritate your skin. 

Stress and medications can also be huge factors in your body being prone to acne. Stress increases cortisol levels, disrupting your hormones, and leading to acne breakouts. “Medications also disrupt hormones, which can lead to acne and other problems. However, other medications such as androgenic steroids, medications with bromides and iodides, barbituates, and others can lead to these breakouts as well. Make sure to consult with your doctor before making any decisions on stopping medications, as it could do more harm than good. In addition, a dermatologist can recommend medications that may help treat your acne outright,” says Dr. Parks.

However, even with an understanding of what causes acne, it isn’t completely avoidable. It can appear seemingly at random. A wide variety of ingredients can help with acne, and products can contain one or more of them. Salicylic, lactic, and glycolic acids can help treat acne. In addition, retinoids are also excellent for clearing up acne. They work by cleaning out sebum and dirt in your pores, freeing them and allowing them to heal quicker. The GlowBiotics Acne Clarifying + Refining Treatment is a great choice. 

If you’re unsure of what products to use, make sure to look at the ingredient list. EltaMD’s AM Therapy Facial Moisturizer is a moisturizer that contains ingredients that won’t clog your pores while hydrating your skin. Clarity Rx’s ClearZit contains a multitude of ingredients to clear up acne such as glycolic and salicylic acid. Jan Marini’s Multi Acid Resurfacing Pads contain glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acid, all of which can help clear up your skin of acne that may appear. 

Overall, genetics can lead to an increase of factors that can cause acne breakouts, but they can happen to anyone. Keeping healthy is the most important way to keep your skin clear, as is ensuring your medications aren’t disrupting your skin. Make sure to keep your skin clean and healthy, and use the correct products on yourself.



Elta MD AM Therapy Facial Moisturizer (1.7 FL. OZ.)

4.9 / 5.0
$39.00
A morning moisturizer that smoothes skin texture and improves uneven skin tone.
  • Doesn't cause breakouts
  • Balances and evens out skin
  • Hydrates and moisturizes skin

Jan Marini Multi-Acid Exfoliating Pads(Formally Called Multi-Acid Resurfacing Pads) (30ct./Jar)

4.6 / 5.0
$90.00
An at-home peel with 4 powerful acids to resurface the skin for smoother, more luminous/glowing skin, more refined surface texture and reduced apperance of pores, fine lines and wrinkles.

StriVectin Lactic Acid Nightly Retexturizing Serum (1 OZ.)

5.0 / 5.0
$79.00
This clinically formulated lactic acid serum was created to exfoliate away dead skin cells and hydrate the new skin underneath.
  • Visibly smooths
  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Gently exfoliates
  • Nourishes and hydrates

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About Julia Sachs

Julia Sachs is a copywriter in the beauty industry. She has worked with skincare companies, educational services and ingredient suppliers since 2018. Her favorite ingredients are SPF and niacinamide in serum form.