Is Your Make-Up Causing Acne?

by Selen Hurer

Do you suffer from acne, blackheads or blotchy, open pores? Did you know that, in some cases, your make-up might actually be the cause? This type of acne is called Acne Cosmetica. Looking in the mirror, you probably wonder 'Will it ever end?' and sometimes even get dispondant at not being able to find anything to help, but don't. The good news is there are things you can to do treat - and even prevent! - it.

You're not alone, many celebrities suffer with it too... Megan Fox, Kendall Jenner, Victoria Beckham, Cameron Diaz, even Harry Styles!... but luckily for them, they've changed their make-up and skincare practices either to conceal it (which is temporary) or to solve it. And, if that's what's causing yours, you can too. Here's how...

What Causes Acne Cosmetica? 
This particular type of acne normally occurs when certain chemicals found in make-up clog the pores and, over time, the build up becomes deeper and deeper within the skin, resulting in the acne. The worst offenders are petrochemical-based products (e.g. mineral oil, petrolatum, paraffin wax) 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.

To clear your skin, you first need to ensure that your cleansing properly. Most people think they do but actually don't [click here for some tips]. You should also drink lots of water to aid skin cell renewel, and to help hydrate and maintain clear skin. Forming healthy skin habits now will help maintain clear, healthy looking skin long-term. 

Non-comedogenic products contain ingredients that won't clog your pores. Unfortunately, manufacturers are not required to pass any type of test in order to claim their products are non-comedogenic so that leaves it up to you. Always read the ingredient labels on skincare and makeup products before buying them, just to be sure

Oxygenetix Breathable Foundation (15ml, £45.00). It's designed to effectively cover and heal post-procedure skin and imporves the skin's ability to absorb oxygen - the more oxygen and the cleaner the oxygen path, the better! Plus its hydrating oil-free formula is water-resistant and transfer-proof, making it the perfect base.

Most liquid make-ups have an oil base but switching to a powder-based make-up can really help your skin. Not only do they feel lighter on the skin but they also have the added benefit of helping to absorb excess oil.

You should also avoid mineral powders as they can clog your pores too. Most people don't realise this. Hearing the word 'mineral', they automatically think 'healthy, natural ingredients' but that's not true. Instead, they contain Bismuth Oxychloride, a popular filler ingredient that gives mineral powder it's soft finish but can aggravate the skin, causing itchniness, inflammation and breakouts as the shimmer particles in it become trapped in your pores, making them look bigger and causing breakouts.

Using a Bismuth Oxychloride-free powder like After Glow Cosmetics Organic Infused Foundation (£34.00). It's vegan, completely animal friendly and comes in 19 shades, making it a great colour match for any skin type and ethnicity.

Keeping make-up on your face for long periods of time makes it more likely to settle into your pores. Every night before bed, thoroughly but gently remove all traces of make-up from your face and neck. This reduces the liklihood that the makeup will clog the pores and also removes any dirt and excess oil that's built up on your skin throughout the day.

This is very important. A main cause of inflammatory acne is bacteria that lives in your dirty brushes and old sponges. This same bacteria gets transferred to your face where it starts to spread. Cleaning your brushes and sponges on a regular basis will definitely help to prevent acne and, if you've already got it, to stop it spreading and start the healing process so that you get that longed for clear, nourished looking skin. I always clean my make-up brushes after every single client but, for personal use, washing them once a week should be sufficient.


  • Wash all make-up brushes with anti-microbial soap at least once each week. I like Real Techniques Deep Cleansing Brush Gel (£7.50) - a gentle, dermatologist-tested cosmetic brush cleaner that's alcohol-free and phthalates-free. This deep cleaner is designed to effectively remove make-up residue and unseen impurities on make-up brushes. For best results, use with Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Palette (£12.99)
  • For a quick, mid-week sanitization, thoroughly spray your brushes using a gentle cleaner such as Parian Spirit Brush Cleaner (from £12.50); then wipe excess make-up off using a clean paper towel. Make sure you allow the brushes to dry properly before re-using.

    Parian Spirit is a brilliant product. It's a revolutionary, environmentally-safe professional brush cleaner that cleans conditions and disinfects. Made from a natural blend of citrus spirits and safe, food-grade solvents, it powerfully cuts through dirt, grime and oil-based make-up and adhesives. Definitely worth investing in

    Use alcohol-free brush cleaners as ones containing alcohol can damage your brushes.


  • Short of time? Use disposible applicators instead of brushes. Disposable makeup applicators and sponges are a great alternative, especially if you're super busy and find it hard to find time to clean your brushes.

It's just not your dirty brushes and sponges that carry bacteria; your make-up does too, especially pressed powders, cream and powder blushers, cream foundations, pan sticks and solid concealers. Spray your make-up with a sanitizer such as Beauty So Clean Cosmetic Sanitiser (from £6.50). This quick drying spray prevents bacterial cross contamination without altering makeup products, whilst protecting against clogged pores, blemishes, acne and more.

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