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Is My Makeup Causing Pimples?

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Updated April 19, 2014

Makeup and Acne

Is your makeup triggering breakouts?

Photo © Angela Palmer

Most teen girls and adult women who suffer from acne develop a sort of love-hate relationship with their makeup. You rely on it to help cover up acne pimples that make you feel self-conscious. On the other hand, it can actually create more of the blemishes you are trying to conceal. How can you ensure your makeup isn't sabotaging your efforts to clear your skin?

  • Never sleep in your makeup.
    Every night before bed, make it a point to thoroughly but gently remove all traces of makeup from your face and neck. Use a gentle cleanser and toner to help do so.


  • Choose makeup labeled noncomedogenic.
    Noncomedogenic makeup does not contain ingredients known to clog the pores. Reducing the amount of pore blockages is a good start when treating acne, and some women find their breakouts improve just by changing to noncomedogenic makeup.


  • Clean your applicators frequently.
    Half of the fight against blemishes is reducing the amount of acne-causing bacteria on your skin. And makeup brushes and applicators are bacteria magnets. Wash all makeup brushes with antimicrobial soap a few times each week, and thoroughly spray them with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol after every application. Use disposable applicators whenever possible, and dispose of after each use.


  • Choose powder-based makeup instead of liquids.
    Although liquid makeup gives better coverage, most have an oil base. Definitely not something you want to put on your acne prone skin. Powders have the added benefit of helping to absorb excess oil.


  • Try switching brands.
    If your acne seems to worsen after wearing makeup for several days in a row, you may want to try a different brand. Certain makeup formulations, even those labeled noncomedogenic, can cause breakouts in sensitive individuals. If this seems to be the case for you, try another brand. Your skin might tolerate one better than another.


  • Go bare whenever possible.
    Leave your face makeup-less at least a few times a week. Allow your skin time to breathe and heal. And when you do wear makeup, remember, less is best.

Above all, try not to get discouraged. Finding what works for your skin is often a matter of trial and error. But with patience and time, your skin can heal. And you can feel confident with or without your makeup.

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