We all cry, and there’s really no shame in it. Crying helps relieve stress and sometimes just feels good. But recently, hours after one of my emotion-expressing sessions, I realized that my skin was freaking out. Pimples took over my cheek area, making me wonder (and Google) enough times this year to justifying writing an entire article about it: Can crying cause your skin to break out?
First things first: We have to break down exactly what tears are to determine if they can cause breakouts. According to Mona Gohara, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale, tears are just a combination of salt and water — neither of which have pore-congesting effects on the skin. However, there are other reasons that you may experience an acne flare-up after crying.
Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, says that rubbing the eyes and cheeks can cause low-grade inflammation that promotes breakouts. This phenomenon is called acne mechanica, which is acne that is triggered by excess heat, pressure, friction, or rubbing of the skin. “It is the same concept behind maskne, the acne from face masks,” he adds.
Gohara agrees and says that all that rubbing from crying can clog the pores, especially if you’re not careful with which kind of tissues you use. “If you’re using those scented ones or ones that are moisture-infused, you’re more likely to cause acne mechanica,” she says. Gohara adds that stress can also cause acne. So if you’re crying because you’re stressed out (been there!), that may be the reason behind those breakouts.
What can we do to prevent this? Gohara and Zeichner gave us three easy things to do to make sure we never break out during a crying session again.
All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Always pat the tears away.
Grab a non-scented and non-moisturized tissue Like the Kleenex Trusted Care Facial Tissue, which are super gentle and two-ply. And gently pat those tears away, never rub. “Rubbing the eyes or face will just cause friction, leading to acne,” says Zeichner.