Cosmetic induced acneThe 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.2 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.4 Applying 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.

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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).


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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.

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.


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