It can become a winding game of Clue trying to hunt down the elusive culprit. Or, if you’re like me and spend hours perusing the deepest corners of the Skincare Addiction subreddit, you might discover an unknown acne trigger: dryer sheets. Cue an a-ha moment.
One Reddit user used the elimination method to figure out what was causing their breakouts, and landed on the conclusion that these laundry squares were behind their skin irritation. When they cut those out of their cleaning regimen, however, skin went back to its glowy state.
“My skin’s recovery has been dramatic since then, and my dermatologist confirmed that dryer sheets can be a huge trigger for some people,” she writes. The trouble with dryer sheets lies in the fact that they coat all of the fabric you wash with a thin layer of wax and grease. This can then cling to your pores if you come into contact with what you wash—so that could be your pillowcases, sweaters, towels, etc.
A dermatologist in my rolodex confirms this is a little-known cause of pimples. “We know that dryer sheets can be linked to eczema, largely because of the fragrance,” says Mona Gohara, MD, a Danbury, Connecticut-based dermatologist. “So it isn’t too much of a stretch that it would cause other inflammation in the skin.”
You’ll notice that dyer sheets do feel sticky when you put them in, and then totally dry once the laundry’s done—so that’s the gunk that could transfer onto your complexion. The good news? You can easily replace them with woolen dryer balls to keep things soft—minus the pimply consequences.
If you’re breaking out, here are the best spot treatments, according to dermatologists. And these are some crazy-effective dermatologist and facialist-approved acne products.
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