Is Your Makeup Causing Acne?
Beauty Tips and Tricks

Is Your Makeup Causing Acne? Everything you Need to Know about Acne Cosmetica

Do you suffer from acne? Did you know that in some cases, your makeup might actually be the culprit?  Acne Cosmetica is the term used for acne that is caused or aggravated by cosmetics. While it’s a common concern for many people, the good news is there are things you can to do treat, and even prevent it!

What Causes Acne Cosmetica?

The main cause of this particular type of acne is the clogging of pores by certain chemicals found in makeup. The worst offenders are  petroleum based products because they settle in your pores and prevent them from expelling sebum and dead skin cells. Once a pore is clogged, acne bacteria can grow and cause inflammation from inside.


Ingredients to Avoid if You are Suffering from Makeup Breakouts

 Certain types of makeup contain ingredients that can clog pores, cause allergic reactions, and even skin problems like dermatitis.  Some ingredients are much more likely to contribute to breakouts that others. If you have sensitive or acne prone skin, your best bet is to use non-comedogenic products, which means they will not clog your pores. Unfortunately, manufacturers are not required to pass any type of test in order to claim their products are non-comedogenic. Because of this reason, it’s always important to read the ingredients of your skincare and makeup products in order to be sure.

Makeup Ingredients That Cause Acne:

The ingredients below are ranked 5 out of 5 in their ability to cause acne.

  •  Wheat Germ Oil
  • Algae Extract
  • Carrageenans
  • Red Algae
  • Potassium Chloride
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Isopropyl Myristate
  • Hexadecyl Alcohol
  • Laureth 4

Acne Cosmetica - Dirty Sponges and Brushes

Treatments for Makeup Induced Acne

Use Non Comedogenic Brands

 Makeup induced breakouts can be easily treated by paying attention to the ingredients in the makeup you’re using. To get rid of acne cosmetica, the first thing you should do is switch to a non-comedogenic brand. Some people find complete relief from their skin problems, just by making this simple change.

Clean Your Brushes and Tools

Take a look at what you’re applying your makeup with and make sure that your brushes and tools are clean and sanitary.  A main cause of inflammatory acne is caused from bacteria that lives your dirty brushes and old sponges. This same bacteria gets transferred to your face where it starts to flourish. I clean my makeup brushes after every single client. For personal makeup brushes, I recommend washing them once a week, depending on how much you’re using them.

[Review of my favorite $5 brush cleaner: HERE]

Wash your Face

Keeping makeup on your face for long periods of time makes it more likely to settle into your pores. You should always wash your face before bed!

Listen to Your Skin

If you’re noticing breakouts when you use certain products, stop using them and see if it clears up. Everyone’s skin reacts differently so keep an eye on your face and eventually you’ll start to discover patterns. For example, whenever I use high percentage glycolic acid, my entire face breaks out in small bumps. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out what I was using that was causing these breakouts, but when I did, the bumps disappeared.



If you have any other tips that have worked for you, please leave them in the comment section below!

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  • Reply Patty Ruggia August 16, 2011 at 8:22 am


    Great article. I think the most important thing to remember, especially if you are prone ot acne in regards to make up is to clean your make up! I use BeautySoClean, a three product sanitizing system that is sweeping the pro-world and making its way into retail. Bacteria grows on make up!! Mascara and lipstick can harbor harmful bacteria that can be cleaned in 10 seconds with BeautySoClean wipes. They also have a sanitizing mist for face powders and eye shadows. Great product, a must for my make up bag….and yours. 😀

  • Reply Acne November 8, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Just make sure your makeup is labeled non-comedogenic. Definitely helps!

  • Reply catie May 21, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    hey i always use make up but I wipe my face sooo i really dont get pimples

  • Reply Kathryn May 29, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Im a blonde. And i have no idea what this ment lolol so yeah

  • Reply Levina August 6, 2013 at 12:40 am

    hi, actually i’m using garnier bb cream skin renew miracle skin perfector in combination to oily skin (because i’m very oily) for about a month which is said that this bb cream is non-coedogenic and non-acnegenic. but i don’t know if its just my skin or what but after i apply this bb cream, in the next morning there is a small bump on my face. and i just realize that this bb cream contain sodium chloride which is one of many ingredients that cause an acne. so should i stop using this bb cream? because it said that this bb cream is non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic.

    thanks before 🙂

    • Reply Lindsey August 6, 2013 at 2:30 pm

      Hi Levina,
      If you are noticing that the product is causing acne, then I would stop using it. Many products listed as non comedogenic still do not work well for every person that uses it. Keep an eye on your skin and test out different products. You’ll find a good match eventually. Thanks!

  • Reply Angela August 11, 2016 at 4:27 am

    I took two weeks off without wearing any makeup as it was defintkey causing my acne. It was so bad my entire check was full of spots which were also painful ad embrassibg! I walked around in public exposing all my acne which was also embarrassing. I only drank water and cut out certain things from my diet I brought a simple cleanser and toner and I swear within two weeks most of my acne has gone and my confidence has gone up. I now just use a simple bb cream and have stopped using heavy full coverage foundstion not only does it look more natural but I feel better. Trust me if anyone is suffering from acne caused by cosmetics just take te plunge and take a few weeks without using products

    • Reply Lindsey August 31, 2016 at 9:12 pm

      I’m glad you were able to pinpoint what was causing your acne! It’s amazing how simple the solution was.

  • Reply Tracy October 30, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Im starting to have acne. IM not a makeup person but I decided to start using it. Now im breaking out allover my face. Im using mac makeup which should be a great brand

    • Reply Lindsey November 4, 2016 at 11:30 am

      Hi Tracy, MAC foundations actually have a bit of a reputation for being heavy and causing breakouts for some. Many actresses specifically ask me not to use MAC because of this. I would try a different brand and see if you continue to breakout. Hope this helps!

  • Reply Sonam December 2, 2016 at 7:12 am

    Hello can anyone suggest me any non comedogenic compact and foundation. ..Please help…I have an acne prone skin..

    • Reply Lindsey December 5, 2016 at 12:41 pm

      Hi Sonam, I’m not a dermatologist but I have found that Clinique has really good products for acne prone skin. I also highly recommend Cover FX. If you’re on a budget, I know Elf has an “acne-fighting” foundation and Neutrogena has a skin clearing foundation as well. Hope this helps

      • Reply Ishil February 1, 2018 at 8:10 pm

        I have always had clear skin my entire life. I recently started using Cover FX about a month ago and now i have full blown acne on my face. I do not recommend this product. It looks good on but it definitely causes bumpy, acne looking skin.

        • Reply Lindsey February 1, 2018 at 8:18 pm

          Hi Ishil,
          That’s so strange that Cover FX broke you out as they specialize in very sensitive skin. I wonder if you are allergic to one of their ingredients? Either way it’s good for people to know that not every product works for everybody! Thanks so much for commenting.


    • Reply Nikki March 18, 2017 at 4:38 am

      I told my grndtmoaher how you helped. She said, “bake them a cake!”

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