Does makeup cause acne? The straightforward answer is no. However, certain ingredients in cosmetics can aggravate acne. We explain how and which products to avoid below.
How do cosmetics aggravate acne?
The two major causes of acne are genetics and a bacterium called Proprionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). Neither of these originate from makeup.
However, several substances in your makeup can be comedogenic or acnegenic, both of which can cause skin irritations that aggravate the acne condition.
Comedogenic substances cause comedones.
Comedones are small bumps that arise when pores get blocked by excessive sebum and dead skin debris. Closed comedones, or whiteheads, have a cover of skin cells that prevent oxidation. Open comedones, or blackheads, are exposed to the environment which causes the sebum to oxidate and turn black.
Comedogenic products trigger a disorder in the cells lining the pores. The normal process of cells shedding is interrupted by an excess of keratin. This causes dead skin cells and sebum to stick together and cause blockage.
Acnegenic products cause inflammation of hair follicles which leads to the formation of papules or pustules. Papules are small reddish raised bumps on the skin. They are often painful and hard when you touch them. Pustules are swollen and resemble blisters with a yellowish pus.
How to choose the right cosmetic product?
When choosing your cosmetic products, look for non-acnegenic and non-comedogenic labels. The former is less common than the latter.
The absence of a label does not mean a product is acnegenic or comedogenic though so look next to the ingredients.
Potentially comedogenic substances include cocoa butter, corn oil, lanolin, oleic acid, olive oil, paraffin, peanut oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, sodium lauryl sulfate, stearic acid and stearyl alcohol. Potentially acnegenic substances include fragrances, harsh chemicals and alcohols.
However, this list should also not be blindly followed. In any cosmetic formulation, it is likely that the substance that may be comedogenic or acnegenic in raw form is present in much lesser concentrations. Certain individuals are also more prone to comedone formation than others so some users can use a moisturizer formulated with cocoa butter without difficulty while others cannot.
As a result, the only way to know for certain if a cosmetic product is going to irritate your skin is to try it and observe what happens. If a breakout is due to cosmetics, it typically occurs 48 hours after application. Such breakouts usually disappear quickly after application is discontinued. In comparison, the development of acne takes about 2 to 4 weeks.
If breakouts continue even after discontinuing a product’s use, switch to dermatologist-recommended products or visit a dermatologist.
Are your makeup brushes clean?
If you find you’re having consistent reactions to cosmetics, the culprit may be your dirty makeup brushes. These applicators can provide the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive and cause an infection called gram-negative folliculitis. Gram-negative folliculitis causes pustules.
To avoid this, clean your makeup applicators weekly to remove bacteria, dead skin cells and sebum. Also, do not share your makeup brushes.
Keep your face clean and clear
To minimize breakouts and skin irritations, put greater care into removing makeup thoroughly. Use a gentle cleanser, preferably one that is formulated for acne-prone skin like Miel Honey™ Cleanser. A skincare regime for acne-prone skin should also include antioxidants, such as VITA C GOLD™ Serum. Antioxidants help to reduce oxidation of sebum, thus reducing the inflammation that can lead to acne.