If you have: Cystic acne on the chin and jawline
Possible cause #1: Stress
Let us explain: The S word stimulates androgen hormones, which then mess with the oil glands, causing hormonal acne on your chin. And we’re not helping ourselves: “Stressed people are tense and often can’t leave pimples alone,” says NYC dermatologist and psychiatrist Amy Wechsler, M.D.
How to nix ’em: To relieve stress, Wechsler uses this technique: “Breathe in slowly through the nose and out the mouth. Focusing on the breath lowers anxiety and heart rate.”
Possible cause #2: Diet (especially if you also have red itchy bumps all over)
Let us explain: Sugar and refined carbs are partners in crime, and they aim straight for your chin. If you’ve got red, itchy bumps all over, the culinary culprit is likely yeast. It’s a condition called acne rosacea that may be related to a reaction of yeast in the hair follicles, says Dennis Gross, M.D., a NYC dermatologist.
How to nix ’em: Food triggers can be hard to isolate, so dermatologists suggest you cut out one suspected food you regularly eat (such as yogurt, pasta, protein shakes with whey, or white bread) at a time to see if there’s any relief within one to three weeks.
If you have: A mix of red zits and whiteheads along your T-zone
Possible cause #1: Pollution
Let us explain: Particle matter—teensy-tiny soot and liquid particles suspended in air—penetrates the complexion, plugging pores and triggering red zits. But wait, there’s more: Noxious gases called ground-level ozone cause a chemical reaction with your skin’s natural oils, changing their consistency from a liquid to a wax, which, in turn, ushers in whiteheads.
How to nix ’em: Find out the pollution level of your zip code onStateOfTheAir.org, a site run by the American Lung Association that rates cities with letter grades. If yours scored below a B, cleanse like you mean it—particle matter is microscopic, so fingers alone won’t cut it. “A cleansing brush removes more soot and debris,” says Elizabeth Tanzi, M.D., a dermatologist in Washington, D.C. Try Pulsaderm Buddy, ($69, pulsaderm.com) with a 2 percent salicylic acid wash, like Garnier Clean+ Shine Control Cleansing Gel ($8, at drugstores).
Possible cause #2: Climate
Let us explain: Hot, muggy climes (summers on the East Coast, and all year round in the South) spur the production of oil, which is a breeding ground for P. acnes bacteria. But dry-climate dwellers (if you live in the Southwest, or spend winters in the Northeast) aren’t in the clear. That air sucks out moisture, causing dry cells to flake and gunk up the pore walls, “so you’ll see little whiteheads,” says aesthetician Renee Rouleau.
How to nix ’em: If humidity is your trigger, use an oil-free moisturizer, says Gross—don’t give bacteria more slickness to munch on. Dry climate? Get a humidifier.