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But for those of us who haven’t found the best acne treatment, makeup may seem like the only cure. Unfortunately, makeup can cause acne and may make blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and inflammation worse. Like other non-cleansing products applied to the skin, makeup can clog skin pores.

As you frantically search to find the best acne treatment product, you may come down with a bad case of the catch-22. You’re so embarrassed of your acne that you refuse to go anywhere without wearing makeup, but you’re also worried that wearing makeup today may make you break out even more tomorrow. So can makeup really make your acne worse? And, if so, what is the best acne treatment approach to covering up your acne?

DOES MAKEUP WORSEN ACNE?

Many makeup artists will tell you that makeup should be used to enhance your best traits, not hide your perceived flaws. That’s easy to say when you have a clear, radiant facial canvas. But for those of us who haven’t found the best acne treatment, makeup may seem like the only cure.

Unfortunately, makeup can cause acne and may make blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and inflammation worse. Like other non-cleansing products applied to the skin, makeup can clog skin pores. Oil prone areas such as the forehead, nose or chin are particularly susceptible, especially when excess concealers or powders are used to cover them.

CAN I STILL WEAR MAKEUP IF I HAVE ACNE?

The simple answer? It depends on the effect that makeup has on your skin and acne. If the effects of makeup are not extensive and you’re unwilling to give up on facial products, at least be picky about what you purchase. The best acne treatment approach is to select makeup labeled “noncomedogenic.” Noncomedogenic products are less likely to clog the pores, which can reduce oil and bacteria buildup that leads to acne, inflammation, and scars.

You should also be on the lookout for ingredients that may make your acne worse. Products that contain fragrances may irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction. It is best to search for makeup marked “hypoallergenic” and “fragrance free.” If you’re uncertain about the effects that individual ingredients may have on your skin type, you can also consult your dermatologist for additional suggestions about using makeup that won’t interfere with your acne treatment.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ACNE TREATMENT PRODUCTS?

The best way to cover up pimples is to find the best acne treatment and prevention products for your skin. If you notice a clear connection between makeup and skin acne, you may have to avoid makeup products and opt for individual acne treatments or acne treatment kits instead. The best acne treatment solutions clear your skin by using benzoyl peroxide to kill bacteria living deep inside the pores and salicylic acid to unclog and exfoliate the follicle walls. Because some acne treatment products dry out the skin as they clear pimples and prevent scars, these acne treatment kits will often include a gentle moisturizer to soothe and hydrate skin cells. Such acne treatment solutions may contain aloe and chamomile extracts. Look for these ingredients as you search for the best acne treatment therapy, but also pay attention to the products that work best for your skin.

Cosmetic induced acne The answer is yes. 45% of women in a recent Brazilian study had dermatoses (skin disease) associated with the cosmetics they were using. 14% had active acne lesions due to cosmetics.1 Cosmetic induced acne is so widespread that it has its own name, acne cosmetica. People typically experience cosmetic induced acne on the chin and cheeks more than than on the forehead.3 It presents as small, whitish bumps, sometimes referred to as “grains”, which are more noticeable when the skin is stretched. It can also show up as red, garden variety pimples. Cosmetic induced acne tends to be stubborn, sometimes lasting for years as the person using makeup enters into a vicious cycle of covering the breakouts, which lead to further breakouts. Cosmetic induced acne can take months to form which can lead to confusion as a breakout seems to come out of nowhere, when in fact, cosmetics slowly caused the acne to form over time.4Applying makeup too roughly can lead to irritation which can also aggravate acne.

 

So what do I do about it?

Go bare when you can. When applying makeup, use it as sparingly as you can. Choose sheer, water-based, non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores) products. And finally, apply these products using a featherlight touch and only for a few seconds to minimize irritation.

There is no concensus on any “safe” makeup products. Almay® brand may be a safer choice since the company has a track record of dedication to fragrance-free, non-comedogenic (non pore-clogging) formulas. Regardless of brand, try to choose sheer or light coverage varieties which specifically claim to be non-comedogenic and are fragrance-free. Large, drugstore brands which are made for a younger, more acne-prone audience tend to be a safer choice than department store varieties, and less expensive to boot. “Acne fighting” makeup, while not necessarily a poor choice, is largely a marketing idea and does not provide for real acne fighting. “Acne fighting” makeups tend to have .5% salicylic acid as an active ingredient. Even 2% salicylic acid (the legal limit over-the-counter) does little for acne. Mineral makeup is fine as long as it does not cause itchiness, which is a sign of irritation and can lead to scratching (further irritation).

Recommended steps Avoid
Primer: Gently tap on a primer with your bare hands and a featherlight touch. “Massaging“ the primer in. This can cause unnecessary irritation.

Fragrance.

Foundation: Apply a sheer or light coverage foundation with your bare hands using a featherlight touch. If applying a powder or mineral foundation gently brush it on your skin for only a few seconds. Full or heavy coverage foundations, “all day” or long wearing foundations, thick cream type foundations.

Sponges or other applicators. These can be irritating.

Fragrance.

Pressed Powder: Apply pressed powder as gently and quickly as possible using a clean dry powder puff. Applying for longer than a few seconds.

Fragrance.

Concealer: If you still need to conceal some spots, apply a concealer with your bare hands using a featherlight touch. Heavy, greasy concealers.
Blush: Gently brush on powder blush for only a few seconds using a featherlight touch. Applying for longer than a few seconds.

Liquid blush – these can be greasy.

Fragrance.

Bronzer: Gently brush on bronzer quickly and gently. Many people implicate bizmuth oxychloride as an itch promoter and skin irritant. It may be best to avoid this ingredient.

Any bronzer which causes your skin to itch. Scratching at the skin is very irritating.

Tinted Moisturizer: Apply tinted moisturizer with your bare hands using a featherlight touch.

Note: You may add 5-6 drops of jojoba oil into the tinted moisturizer before applying.

Applying multiple moisturizers on top of one another. If you are using a tinted moisturizer, use only it as your only moisturizer.

Fragrance.

 

removing makeup

Recommended steps Avoid
Eye makeup: Dispense mineral oil (baby oil) or jojoba oil on a cotton pad or cotton ball. Use pad or ball to remove makeup. To avoid irritation, do not scrub other areas of the face with the cotton ball or pad.
Foundation, powder, concealer, and blush: Wash off using facial cleanser very gently for 10 seconds or less using your bare hands, just as you would if you were on The Regimen without makeup. See Step 1 above.

Note: If your makeup does not come off easily by washing this way, switch brands to a lighter, more sheer variety. If on occasion you need something stronger, try using moisturizer and your bare hands to gently remove makeup.

Towelettes, wipes, washcloths, scrubbers, and anything other than bare hands.

The table below lists ingredients which score a 3 or above on the 0-5 comedogenicity scale. If any of these are within the first seven ingredients on the ingredient list of a makeup product you are choosing, you may want to reconsider. If, however, any of these ingredients are far down on the list, this means the manufacturer may have included it in a very small amount and the product may still be safe to use.

  • 5Isopropyl isostearate
  • 5Isopropyl myristate
  • 5Myristyl myristate
  • 5Laureth-4
  • 5Oleth-3
  • 4Coconut butter
  • 4Acetylated lanolin
  • 4Acetylated lanolin alcohol
  • 4Lauric acid
  • 4Isopropyl palmitate
  • 4Isostearyl isostearate
  • 4Myristyl lactate
  • 4Stearyl heptanoate
  • 4Cetearyl alcohol + ceteareth 20
  • 4Cocoa butter
  • 3Mink oil
  • 3Soybean oil
  • 3Shark liver oil
  • 3D&C red #30
  • 3Stearic acid: TEA
  • 3Myristic acid
  • 3Buytl stearate
  • 3Decyl oleate
  • 3Isostearyl neopentanoate
  • 3Glyceryl stearate SE
  • 3Wheat germ glyceride
  • 3Laureth-23
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