How to Choose a Good Blush

Choose a Blush That Does Not Contain Any Pore-clogging Ingredients and Apply It to the Skin Very Gently

The Essential Info

The best strategy when selecting a blush for acne-prone skin is to look at the ingredients. Avoid blushes with pore-clogging ingredients.

To be safe, also avoid products that contain fragrances, which may irritate the skin and thus contribute to acne, and which may cause allergies in some people.

Finally, consider avoiding blushes containing bismuth oxychloride, an ingredient that adds shimmer but that seems to cause irritation and itch in some people.

Important Considerations When Using Blush

  • Apply it gently: Be gentle when applying blush so as not to irritate the skin. Physical irritation can lead to more acne.
  • Remove makeup before bed: As with all other types of makeup, make sure to remove blush before bed.
  • Don’t use expired makeup: Make sure to only use fresh makeup products.

The Science

Today’s market offers a wide variety of blushes. Blush, also known as blusher or rouge, is a makeup product that emphasizes the cheekbones, accentuates the contours of the face, and can come in a wide variety of forms, from pressed powder to a liquid.1,2

Since some cosmetic products can potentially contribute to acne,3 choosing the right blush for acne-prone skin can seem overwhelming. However, you can find a product that is safe for your skin by following these simple rules:

Guidelines for Choosing a Blush for Acne-prone Skin

What to Look for When Choosing a Blush
  1. Avoid pore-clogging ingredients: Before you buy a blush, always check the ingredient list. Steer clear of blushes that contain pore-clogging (comedogenic) ingredients. The table below shows a complete list of common comedogenic ingredients.
  2. Avoid blushes with fragrances: Some blushes contain fragrances. Fragrances are the ingredient that is most likely to cause allergies. Even if you are not allergic to fragrances, they may irritate your skin and thus make acne worse. The best strategy is to select a fragrance-free blush.
  3. Consider avoiding blushes with bismuth oxychloride: Some blushes contain bismuth oxychloride, which creates a shimmering effect. While there is no hard evidence that this ingredient irritates the skin, multiple anecdotal reports from customers suggest that it may cause irritation and itch. If you find that your skin is sensitive to bismuth oxychloride, consider avoiding blushes with this ingredient. I will continue to monitor the research and update these recommendations if hard data become available.
  4. Do not worry about looking for a blush marketed specifically for acne: Some manufacturers market blushes for acne-prone skin by adding salicylic acid, a common over-the-counter anti-acne active ingredient. Salicylic acid is somewhat beneficial for acne-prone skin, but since people normally only use a small amount of blush on the skin, the amount of salicylic acid that reaches the skin is negligible. Do not worry about looking for a blush with this ingredient.
  5. Do not worry about choosing a blush with sunscreen: While some blushes contain sunscreen, the amount of blush that most people use is too small to adequately protect the skin from the sun. Therefore, do not worry about trying to find a blush with sunscreen.

List of Common Comedogenic Ingredients in Makeup

Many scientific studies have investigated how likely various ingredients are to cause clogged pores (comedones).3 We have used this research to compile two lists:

  1. Definitely avoid: These are ingredients that people with acne-prone skin should definitely avoid, because a convincing body of evidence shows that they are comedogenic.
  2. Consider avoiding: These are ingredients that people with acne-prone skin may want to consider avoiding, because a less convincing body of evidence indicates that they might be comedogenic.
Ingredients That May Clog Pores

Tips for Using Blush on Acne-prone Skin

Tips for Using Blush on Acne-prone Skin

Whenever you apply blush or any other cosmetics to acne-prone skin, it is important to avoid irritating the skin, because physical irritation of the skin can worsen acne.4 To prevent skin infections, it is also essential to practice good hygiene. Keep these tips in mind when using blush on acne-prone skin:

  1. Apply blush gently: Apply blush very gently so as not to irritate the skin. Use your bare hands to apply blush with light tapping motions, or select the softest makeup brushes.
  2. Remove blush before bed: Because the skin is more vulnerable at night, it is essential to remove blush and any other makeup before going to bed. Be gentle when removing makeup to avoid irritating your skin.
  3. Do not share your makeup tools: If you use a brush to apply blush, do not share it with anyone, since sharing makeup tools increases your chances of contracting a skin infection.
  4. Do not use expired blush: An expired blush can start to harbor bacteria or begin to degrade. Never use makeup that is past its expiration date.
Blush Ingredients: The Full Scoop

Blush, also known as blusher or rouge, is a makeup product that:

  • Emphasizes the cheekbones
  • Accentuates the contours of the face
  • Lends a fresh, youthful look to the face1,2

Types of blush

There are many types of blush, including pressed powders, liquids, creams, sticks, loose powders, gels, and mousses. Each type creates a unique visual effect and may work better for specific skin types.1,2 Five of the most common types of blush are:

  • Pressed powder
  • Liquid
  • Cream
  • Stick
  • Beads of compressed powder

Each variety of blush has some unique ingredients. As blush in the form of pressed powder is the most common, we will look at its ingredient in the most detail.2

Powder blush ingredients

Some of these ingredient types are marked with an asterisk (*) because they may be comedogenic or irritating. Before buying blush, look at the list of ingredients and make sure that none of them appear in the list of comedogenic ingredients at the beginning of this article.

Blush Ingredients

Liquid blush ingredients

Liquid blushes contain the same base ingredients as liquid foundation.

Stick blush ingredients

In addition to many of the ingredients in the table above, stick blushes contain waxes. Waxes are not comedogenic and are therefore safe for acne-prone skin.

  1. Available from: Accessed on 8/09/2017.
  2. Riley, P. Decorative cosmetics. (2000). In: Poucher’s Perfumes, Cosmetics and Soaps, 10th Edition. Kluwer Academic Publishers. 166-178.
  3. Katoulis A. C., Kakepis E. M., Kintziou H., Kakepis M. E. & Stavrianeas N. G., Comedogenicity of cosmetics: a review, Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 7, 115-119 (1996).
  4. Mills, O. H. & Kligman, O. (1975). Acne mechanica, Archives of Dermatology, 111, 481-483.