Young woman applying foundation on her hand in makeup room

When it comes to skincare and makeup, you hear a lot of contradictory information. We all know somebody who swears by their favorite heavy, oily, pore-clogging foundation and someone else that makes sure they never wear any makeup at all because it would cause them pimples. You may be wondering if there's really any difference between these two approaches—does makeup cause acne? In this blog post, we're covering the facts about whether or not wearing makeup can truly bring on breakouts.

Whether you’re already a skincare enthusiast or just getting started on the path to beautiful skin, read on to find out what science has been able to learn about the connection between your complexion and cosmetics!

What is acne?

Acne is a skin condition that causes spots, redness, and inflammation. It develops when your skin produces too much oil, which can clog and irritate the pores. Acne is commonly seen on the face, chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms. 

Acne-prone skin

Acne-prone skin is a type of skin that is more prone to developing acne than other types of skin. It is typically characterized by increased production of oil, which can clog pores and cause irritation. Acne-prone skin may also have enlarged pores and visible signs of inflammation such as redness or swelling.

Can makeup cause acne breakouts? 

Yes, makeup products can cause a specific type of acne called acne cosmetica. This type of acne is caused by ingredients found in some comedogenic cosmetics, such as oils and waxes, which can create a barrier on the skin that prevents moisture from evaporating and clogs the pores, trapping all the nasties in. Additionally, bacteria on makeup brushes and sponges can transfer onto the skin and cause inflammation.

How do you know if your makeup is causing breakouts?

There are a few tell-tale signs that might indicate your makeup is causing breakouts. If you notice an increase in acne after you start using a particular product, that could be indicative of the product being the cause. Additionally, if you're having difficulty removing makeup after application or find yourself needing to use more and more product to get the desired coverage, ending up with a thick base that clogs pores, this could also point to the makeup being a potential culprit. Lastly, if you experience itching or burning sensations on your face after applying makeup, it's important to evaluate what product may be causing irritation.

Wait, so is makeup bad for your skin?

Don’t be afraid, this doesn’t mean you are not allowed to wear makeup if you have acne-prone skin or that wearing every makeup product it’s going to cause breakouts every time. While some makeup products can clog pores and contribute to pimples, others are specifically formulated to be non-comedogenic and won't cause any harm to your skin. The key is to choose wisely and to make sure to properly remove your makeup at the end of the day.

What is a non-comedogenic makeup product?

A non-comedogenic makeup product is one that won’t clog your pores and potentially cause breakouts. Non-comedogenic products are typically oil-free, fragrance-free, and formulated without ingredients like alcohol, silicones, and heavy waxes. They often come labeled as “hypoallergenic” or “non-comedogenic”. When looking for a product that won't cause your skin to break out, it's important to pay careful attention to the label before purchasing.

7 Ingredients you must avoid on makeup products

It’s important to avoid using makeup products with certain ingredients so they won’t cause you any acne breakouts or get worsen acne on your skin. 

1. Heavy oils 

Especially those such as Isopropyl Myristate, Isocetyl Stearate, Mineral Oil, Ethylhexyl Palmitate and Butyl Stearate, have been linked to acne cosmetica. This is because excess oil can clog your pores and cause irritation.

Other oils to avoid are wheat germ, coconut, cocoa butter, flaxseed, palm, cottonseed, avocado, soybean, evening primrose, sesame, and corn oil.

Argan, sunflower, mango, shea, and hemp oils are non-comedogenic and can be part of your makeup ingredients without any drawbacks.

2. Lanolin Alcohol

If you're battling acne, the last thing you want to do is add fuel to the fire with makeup products that contain lanolin alcohol. Sure, it might sound like a fancy ingredient straight out of a chemistry textbook, but trust me, it's not your friend. You see, lanolin alcohol is a known aggravator of acne-prone skin, as it can clog pores and cause inflammation.

3. Fragrances

Fragrances in makeup products can also cause acne breakouts. Fragrances, both natural and synthetic, can be very irritating to the skin and can clog pores, leading to breakouts. If you have acne-prone skin, it's best to look for makeup-free fragrances in your makeup products as much as possible to help prevent breakouts. Look for fragrance-free or unscented options when shopping for makeup. Additionally, opt for all-natural ingredients which are often less likely to irritate the skin.

4. Parabens

Parabens, which are a type of preservative used in many makeup and beauty products, have been linked to reactions such as acne breakouts. This is because parabens can sometimes irritate the skin and block pores which causes acne breakouts. 

This are the parabens frequently used in makeup products: benzylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, metilparabeno and propylparaben.

5. Silicones

Silicones are often used in makeup and skincare products to create a smoother, more even finish. However, they can also cause acne cosmetica, which can make them problematic for those with acne-prone skin. Silicones can trap bacteria and dirt within your pores, leading to breakouts. Look for products without silicones if you’re looking to reduce your risk of further pimple breakouts.

6. Sodium chloride

Sodium chloride, also known as table salt, can be found in a variety of makeup and skincare products. While it can help create a smoother texture and give the product a more even finish, it can also be drying and irritating to acne-prone skin. It is possible that sodium chloride may draw in moisture from the skin’s top layer, leading to further drying out of the area.

7. Petrolatum 

Petrolatum, or petroleum jelly, is a common ingredient found in many makeup products. Unfortunately, this ingredient can be an issue for people with acne-prone skin as it may contribute to clogging pores and worsening existing breakouts. To avoid this, look for makeup products that are free of petrolatum, or at least contain only very low levels. Additionally, opt for natural and mineral-based formulas as these tend to be more gentle on the skin.

Other things you shouldn’t do to avoid acne cosmetica

Not only you must avoid the list of ingredients we mentioned before, but here are some other things you can’t keep doing if you don’t want to get rid of those pimples and makeup-related acne.

1. Ignoring allergic reactions

Allergic reactions to makeup products can be incredibly uncomfortable and even dangerous. It's important to take any signs of an allergic reaction seriously, especially if they persist or worsen after you have stopped using the product. To prevent such reactions, make sure to read the labels carefully and stop using them because acne after a product is an allergic reaction to those specific ingredients.

2. Using dirty makeup tools

This is a major promoter of acne-causing bacteria and it could also irritate skin. Make sure that you clean your brushes and sponges between uses, and never share them with other people. Additionally, regularly sanitize any tools that are not disposable to reduce the risk of acne or infection. Keep all products away from moisture and out of direct sunlight as well. Pay attention to the expiration date on each product and discard it if you find yourself using it beyond its recommended shelf life.

3. Not washing your hands before applying makeup

This can be a major cause of acne and skin irritation because bacteria on your hands will be transferred to your face during application, which can result in clogged pores and an increased chance of an outbreak. To prevent this, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water prior to touching your face or any products. Additionally, keep all products away from moisture and out of direct sunlight to reduce the risk of bacterial growth. 

4. Sleep while wearing makeup

Sleeping while you wear makeup can be a major cause of acne cosmetica and skin irritation. During the night, makeup can mix with dirt, oil, and sweat that have built up on your skin, leading to increased clogged pores and an increased chance of an acne breakout. To avoid this, make sure to thoroughly remove all traces of makeup before going to bed.

5. Wearing makeup while exercising

This is a recipe for disaster, especially if you're prone to acne breakouts. Here's the thing- sweating opens up your pores, and when you combine that with thick layers of foundation and powder, you're basically creating a perfect breeding ground for acne cosmetica.

5 Tips and tricks on makeup for acne-prone skin

Now that you know everything you must avoid taking care of your sensitive acne-prone skin, here are some tips and tricks that will help you achieve the perfect, pimple-free makeup

1. Cleanse your face properly before applying makeup

Have you prepped your skin for the makeup? That's right, cleansing your skin is as important as doing your makeup. In fact, it's the secret to a flawless makeup finish. Not to mention, skipping this crucial step in your skincare routine can result in pesky pimples and annoying breakouts. Trust us, no one wants that. So, before you reach for that foundation brush, take a few extra minutes to cleanse your face properly. Look for oil-free makeup remover options.

2. Exfoliate your skin twice a week

Exfoliating your skin twice a week can actually help your makeup look better while also being an amazing acne treatment. See, our skin naturally sheds dead skin cells, but sometimes they can build up and clog our pores, leading to those pesky pimples. By exfoliating, you remove those dead skin cells and unclog those pores, which can help prevent future breakouts. Plus, it'll leave your skin feeling silky smooth - it's a win-win! So say goodbye to your acne woes and give exfoliating a try. 

Bonus tip: if you really want to up your skincare game, try adding a salicylic acid toner or serum to your routine.

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3. Look for oil-free and non-comedogenic makeup products

When it comes to makeup, oil, and pimples can really put a damper on your makeup routine. But fear not, makeup lovers! Non-comedogenic literally means "doesn't block pores" so you can finally say goodbye to breakouts caused by your beloved foundation or concealer. Plus, you don't have to sacrifice glam for clear skin because there are plenty of oil-free and non-comedogenic options out there.

4. Use natural or mineral-based formulas

Let's face it, no one wants their pores to feel like they're in a traffic jam. The solution? Natural or mineral-based makeup products. Not only do they help avoid clogged pores, but they're also better for your overall skin health. Plus, you'll feel like a boss knowing you're applying ingredients from Mother Nature herself.

5. Opt for lighter coverage foundations and powder blush or bronzer

Looking for a foundation that won't leave you feeling like you're wearing a mask? Look no further than lighter coverage options! Say goodbye to creamy formulations and liquid makeup that can clog pores and leave you feeling weighed down. Instead, opt for powder-based makeup such as blush or bronzer to add a natural, healthy glow to your skin. Not only will this provide a more subtle look, but it can also help prevent irritation and breakouts on your sensitive skin. So let your skin breathe easy and give these lighter options a try!

Makeup for acne: Where to Find The Best Products?

Now you know the answers, it’s time to go shopping! If you’re looking for the perfect skincare or makeup products for those with acne-prone or oily skin, you’ve came to the right place! At Asian Beauty Essentials we have a curated selection of makeup products that will give you the look of your dreams without causing you any pimples or blackheads! 

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