The Real Reason You Start Breaking Out After A Breakup

You've parted ways with your boo, your better half, your plus one. Whether this break-up was your idea, theirs, or a mutual see-ya! it's not exactly a joyous time. Even if you kept things low-drama — no screaming, begging, or clothes tossed out the window — the fact remains: you were once an item, and now you are not. To rub salt into the proverbial wound, your body may be grieving this break-up even more intensely than your mind. Everything from your sleeping and eating patterns might be out of whack, and there are other unpleasant physical changes that can happen as you grapple with your new single status. Perhaps the most annoying of these changes is a sudden, inexplicable eruption of acne


So, what's the deal with breaking out after breaking up? If you've been sobbing into a pillow only to fall asleep without washing your makeup off, you've got the answer right there — on your dirty pillowcase. "Some people completely neglect their skincare routine when they're under stress from a big loss of an important relationship," Josie Howard, M.D., clinical instructor of psychology at University of California in San Francisco, told Cosmopolitan. If no pillowcases have been damaged by your breakup, and in fact, your skincare routine remains perfect, thankyouverymuch, you may still end up with some extra blemishes. Here's why.

Stress can mess with your complexion

Breaking out when you're stressed is a pretty common phenomenon  — whether you're upset about your breakup, another relationship problem, or even school or work. A study by Wake Forest University found that students going through intense emotional stress "were 23 percent more likely" to have acne flare ups than those who weren't experiencing any sort of angst (per New York Times). Why must we wear our anguish all over our faces? Stress "causes the body to produce excess cortisol and other hormones," which "trigger the overproduction of sebum in the skin," per GQ. That extra sebum clogs pores, creating blemishes.


Before you get mad at your ex for yet another thing they did wrong, do keep in mind that it wasn't the breakup itself that destroyed an otherwise perfect complexion; it's that it made skin that was already prone to pimples sprout some fresh new ones. "While stress does not directly cause acne, it can exacerbate it, and if you are already acne-prone, stress can make your acne worse," dermatologist Michele Green told Greatist. "Acne is an inflammatory disease that can be exacerbated by hormones released during stress, which increase inflammation." Still, if you want to name your zits after the s/o who broke your heart (and then, maybe...pop them?) you'll get no judgements from us.