Does Make Up Cause Acne?

does make up cause acne

If you have deep pimples and you are an acne sufferer who wears makeup, chances are, you’ve spent a great deal of time trying to cover up blemishes, bumps, and scars with makeup. If you’re anything like me, you might have gone up and down the aisles at Sephora searching for the heaviest duty and full coverage foundation that you possibly can.

What does wearing makeup do to our skin actually? Many of us love to wear makeup to beautify or make ourselves look pretty especially during occasions like weddings, debut, dates and other events that require us to get all dolled up and pampered. However, this question remains: Does wearing makeup itself cause acne? If so, what makeup products would be perfect for our skin type?

Wearing makeup can be fun and creative. Until it’s practically smeared off your face from either the hot weather or your own sweat. You’ve probably heard of the saying “Less is more” all your life.

Makeup & Acne: Q & A

Anyone who has had acne has known it doesn’t go well with makeup. Under makeup, acne can still appear obvious with bumpy texture or damaged skin getting accentuated. But it’s hard not to wear makeup because sometimes we may want to add some coverage to acne. If you have acne and still want to cover it up, here are some things to remember to get the best out of your makeup.

While the leading causes of acne are physiological, lifestyle factors – such as the use of makeup – can contribute to breakouts, as well. Any non-cleansing product applied to the skin has the potential to clog your pores, whether its makeup, sunscreen, or even the dirt on your hands. This type of acne caused by-products on the skin is referred to as  “acne cosmetica”.

How to tell if your acne is caused by makeup?

Acne cosmetics generally appear rash-like in the form of tiny red or pink bumps. The oil-prone areas of your complexion – such as the forehead, chin, and nose – are especially susceptible to acne cosmetics, as they are more irritated by the additional oil provided by makeup.

The bumps may or may not be filled with pus, and have the potential to itch or create a rough appearance.

Makeup varies tremendously between brands in terms of quality and ingredients, but using the wrong product (or failing to take the product off!) can certainly aggravate breakouts.

Here are some questions about makeup and acne:

  • Can you use benzoyl peroxide under makeup?
  • Can you wear or apply makeup after using microneedling devices such as Banisher?
  • Can you use acne skincare under makeup?

1)  Can you use benzoyl peroxide under makeup?

There are some treatment products that may contain drying ingredients like  benzoyl peroxide which can possibly suck out your skin’s moisture and leave it looking red and irritated. The benzoyl peroxide works as an antiseptic to reduce the number of germs on the surface of your skin and is sometimes mixed with potassium and hydroxyquinoline sulfate.

One answered that you can apply makeup after using benzoyl peroxide or washing your face with benzoyl peroxide soap as long as you rinse it well.

“Yes, you can apply makeup after using a benzoyl peroxide soap. After washing your face with benzoyl peroxide soap make sure you rinse well with clean water, then apply your treatment whichever you use to treat acne. Make sure you wait a minute for the product to dry. If it didn't dry up, it means you have applied too much. The next step is to moisturize. This is so critical to anyone that is using BP which can be extremely drying to the skin. You may apply primer and then apply makeup.Use SPF 30 mineral powder weightless and translucent, use it over makeup and reapply during the day (every 2 hours if you are in the sun) and feel beautiful.” – from Katerina Waligora (Skin Care at Academy of Cosmetology),

2)  Can you wear or apply makeup after using a microneedling device such as Banisher?

The answer is yes, but not immediately after. You have to allow at least  8 hours after rolling or stamping the Banisher before wearing or applying any makeup products to avoid further clogging pores and breakouts.

3)  Can you use acne skincare under makeup?

I don’t think this would be a good idea as some makeup, along with many skin and hair care products,  contain oil or other ingredients that can cause acne breakouts. The skincare for acne may not be able to work as well when mixed with the makeup applied on top.

Here are a few tips on finding the right makeup product for your acne-prone skin:

  • Less is more/always better
  • Choose products wisely - water-based formulas if your skin is oily and acne-prone. 
  • Splurge on a good primer for your skin type.
  • Let your skin breathe 
  • Use a makeup remover or double cleanse to fully remove makeup

1)  Less Is More/Always Better - When applying concealer, BB cream, or foundation, putting too much on your face can make it look cakey and amplify the appearance of pimples. Use the concealer lightly then put on one layer of foundation. Anything more will make it worse. It may not cover everything up as desired but it covers most of the redness and scars.

2)  Choose Products Wisely - Makeup can often clog pores and cause more pimples and blackheads. Choose cover-ups that are oil-free and are designed for your type of skin. There are many bb creams and foundations intended for specific types of skin, for instance, dry, oily, or combination skin. Check the list of ingredients on the product and make sure that it doesn’t contain any pore-clogging elements.

Take the time to learn which specific makeup products make your skin worse. Some products are great and do little to no harm, and others just may look good for the moment, but end up damaging your skin more.  Try to avoid products that do more harm than good.

3)  Splurge On A Good Primer - Primer preps the skin for foundation. It allows the foundation to stay on for long periods of time and minimizes the look of pores. There are primers that are designed for acne-prone skin that can prime while preventing breakouts. Also, you want the makeup to cover up acne and redness for hours. Invest in a really good one.

If you’re going to spend your big bucks on beautiful skin, prioritize the big bucks on skincare products over makeup products. It’s completely okay to spend lots of cash on makeup, but if you were given the choice between a really nice primer/foundation and a really nice serum, I say go for the serum first.

4)  Let Your Skin Breathe – Sometimes it’s good to take some time off applying foundation and concealer. Take a day to give your skin a rest and treat it to a mask. Wearing heavy amounts of makeup every day and sleeping in makeup can cause the skin to age faster, leading to fine lines and loss of elasticity. It also makes the pores more susceptible to enlarging because the dirt and oil build-up within the pores. Try to cut back on makeup and see if helps your skin a little.

5)  Use A Makeup Remover – Don’t be complacent with your acne-prone skin by just using wipes to remove makeup off your face. Using a good facial makeup remover can ensure that the makeup doesn’t stay in your pores when you’re sleeping. Splashing your face with water won’t remove all your makeup. A liquid remover such as an oil-based cleanser, or makeup remover will draw makeup and dirt out of pores and they often contain other acne-fighting properties. Make sure to wash your face with your normal cleanser to fully remove the excess oils, cleanse the skin and any leftover makeup. Good makeup removers and cleansing routines really go a long way in helping your skin.

  • Makeup tips don’t just stop with that… here are a few more:
  • Always moisturize your face before applying any makeup.
  • For dry blemishes, dab  Neosporin on the spot you want to cover 30 min before you cover with foundation.
  • Use a small eye shadow brush to cover problem blemishes with concealer.
  • Set your face with setting powder and finishing spray.
  • Carry a bottle of lotion in your purse to touch up dry patches of skin.
  • Never touch your face with your hands. (in other words, don’t pick your skin!)
  • Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated.
  • Don’t share makeup products or applicators.

Brigid Anderson shares her all-time favorite drugstore makeup product brands:

  • CoverGirl Aquasmooth Cream Foundation
  • Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge
  • L’oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara
  • J. Cat You Glow Girl Baked Highlighter
  • Revlon Balm Stain In Honey
  • L’oreal Brow Stylist Definer & Brow Stylist Plumper
  • Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Treatment Concealer

Makeup itself doesn’t cause acne; it’s the ingredients that are the culprit behind the breakouts on acne-prone skin so it’s really best to look out for comedogenic makeup products and using ingredients that would fit your particular skin type.   Avoid them by checking the labels and ingredients list before adding any beauty product in your cart or basket wherever you go out shopping for one.

You can treat your acne-prone skin and be beautiful at the same time by choosing makeup products with skin-friendly ingredients in it. Love the skin you're in, acne-prone or not.

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