6 Acne Causing Ingredients In Skincare

August 17, 2020 0 Comments

6 Acne Causing Ingredients In Skincare

By Brigid Anderson

We know about the ingredients we can use to fight acne, but what about the ingredients we should be avoiding? When it comes to product ingredients, deciphering what's benign can be a daunting and irritating task, especially when ingredient lists are a mile long and not all of us are chemists.

We all have different sensitivities and what I avoid may not be what you should avoid, yet, these specific 6 ingredients should be avoided if you have acne and those prone to acne and breakouts when it comes to choosing products.

#1: Mineral Oil

Mineral Oil has gotten a bad rap for a long time, yet it is commonly used in skin care products due to it's moisturizing properties.

Mineral Oil is commonly believed to clog pores, but contrary to this belief the molecular structure of Mineral Oil prevents it from absorbing into the skin making it impossible for Mineral Oil to clog pores.

However, because Mineral Oil sits on top of the skin it prevents your skin from being able to breathe. It may trap in moisture, but it's also going to trap everything else that's causing your skin to break out, including bacteria.

When mineral oil is used to treat wounds, it's used to keep the skin moist and prevent anything from getting into the wound. But when we use it on our skin and we're breaking out, it's going to keep everything right where it is. So, it's best to avoid Mineral Oil altogether if you are suffering from acne or prone to breakouts, unless you need it in a first-aid capacity.

#2: Coconut Oil or Olive Oil

These two oils have become increasingly popular for home skin care uses and organic products. Their nutrient rich and naturally derived attributes make them seem inviting, yet these two oils are highly comedogenic, meaning that they are known pore-cloggers.

Coconut Oil and Olive Oil really do absorb into the skin, and can cause buildup in your pores that can be difficult to remove, leading to more breakouts. For those suffering from acne or those prone to breakouts, it's best to avoid these oils altogether, even though their moisturizing benefits and added nutrients can be beneficial for those with excessively dehydrated skin.

#3: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate

Sulfates have become increasingly frowned upon in the beauty industry as a whole, and “sulfate-free” formulas have become a must for many. Sulfates are detergents and the ingredients that allow a product to suds up and are commonly found in cleansers and shampoo.

We all may like a good lather to feel clean, but sulfates literally strip the skin and hair of moisture and natural oils. You wouldn't use laundry detergent on your face, would you?

When our skin is stripped of our natural oils, the skin barrier is threatened and leaves our skin needing to re-up our oil. Our skin then begins a process of over producing oils in a rapid manner to repair itself, which then causes more harm than good. Our pores can become blocked and the influx of sebum production can lead to breakouts.

In addition to kicked up oil production, sulfates do leave a film on the skin even if your skin feels squeaky clean. This film then clogs the pores that are already trying to produce more sebum, leading to breakouts and blackheads.

Sulfates in hair products are highly stripping as well but our strands of hair cannot produce oil. Using sulfate hair products leaves our hair dry and brittle and causes our scalp to produce more oil. Using sulfate hair products starts a cycle of damage that leads to breakage and split ends and leaves our hair feeling like straw. Try using a sulfate-free cleanser if you notice your skin feels particularly stripped after cleansing.

#4: D&C Pigments

When choosing products, whether it's skincare or makeup, choose products without D&C pigments, especially Red #40 and Red #9. D&C pigments have been proven to be extremely comedogenic and irritating, and can cause sensitivities. Just because the FDA says it's safe doesn't mean it's healthy.

D&C pigments are extracted from coal tars (eww!) and used in a TON of makeup, even foundation. When tested for comedogenicity, #40 and #9 were on the highest scale for causing acne.

#5: Lanolin

Lanolin is an oil extracted from sheep's wool and is the magic ingredient that gives their fluffy coats natural weatherproofing. Lanolin is used in skincare because it is an excellent moisturizer and typically does not cause irritation or breakouts for those not acne prone. For those of us that are? It can be a catalyst for irritation, and cystic, reoccurring acne.

Synthetic lanolins such as acetylated lanolins and etoxylated lanolins have the potential to travel even deeper into the skin, so be watchful for those.

#6: Isopropyl Myristate

This ingredient is added to tons of products to create a smooth, sheer application and create anice slip on the skin. It may feel fantastic when you apply a product that glides flawlessly on the skin, but Isopropyl Myristate sinks into the skin deeply and clogs the pores deeply, leading to serious breakouts.

Common related compounds are butyl stearate, octyl stearate, isocetyl stearate, isopropyl palmitate and isostearate.



Know what you're putting on your skin! Many skincare and cosmetic products contain parabens. The most common parabens are butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben. Although parabens are approved by the FDA and aren't comodegenic, the concern is that they mimic estrogen function and have been linked to breast cancer, early puberty, and reproductive issues. As we know, hormones is a major factor as a cause of acne and anything extra disrupting it could potentially make acne worse.  While the paraben levels in cosmetic products are small, it is better to use products that do not contain them.