Skin Breakouts? 5 Types of Makeup That Can Give You Pimples

woman squeezing pimple in front of mirror

Know what kind of makeup could be giving you skin issues. |

It seems to be a rule that breakouts surface at the most inopportune time. Whether they’re caused by your workout, exacerbated by a new skin care routine, brought on by a period of high stress, or linked to your cycle, there are all kinds of causes for sudden breakouts. But did you know that even your makeup could be a culprit?

Paula’s Choice, a skin care line that uses ingredients and formulations supported by peer-reviewed research, reports acne is an inflammatory disorder that occurs deep inside your skin. It’s influenced by hormones, and isn’t actually caused by your makeup. But certain types of makeup “can worsen breakouts in those already prone to developing them,” according to the story. However, it may not be the products or ingredients you suspect.

We’re all led to believe products that are labeled non-comedogenic won’t clog pores or cause breakouts. But the criteria for determining whether products are comedogenic or not have little relation to how people actually use makeup and skin care products. Paula’s Choice says what really affects whether your makeup will trigger a breakout is how much of an ingredient is used in the formula, because a small amount is unlikely to do much harm.

But that doesn’t mean that you can use makeup with any ingredients and expect it won’t irritate your skin or worsen your breakouts. In fact, there are many kinds of makeup that can make blemish-prone skin much worse. Check out the five types of makeup that exacerbate your breakouts and cause new pimples to pop up where you least want them.

1. Products loaded with irritants

woman doing makeup in front of a mirror

Watch for irritants. |

Avoiding makeup or skin care products that are packed with irritants is a good idea for people with any skin type, but it’s especially important for those prone to acne. Irritation causes inflammation, and inflammation, even when you can’t see it, can worsen oiliness and breakouts. Repeated exposure to irritating ingredients and the resulting inflammation can weaken your skin barrier, stimulate more oil production, make pimples and red marks slower to heal, and lead to a dull complexion. So what should you avoid? Steer clear of alcohol-based makeup, or makeup loaded with fragrance. Other irritants include menthol, peppermint, eucalyptus, camphor, lemon, grapefruit, and lime.

2. Thick, waxy formulas

young woman with clear complexion in the bathroom

Thick makeup can give you issues. |

Another type of makeup to avoid if you know that your skin is prone to breakouts is anything that comes in thick or solid formulas. Avoid products that are packaged in stick or pancake form like bronzer or blush. And think twice about cream or cream-to-powder compact formulations and concealers. The problem with these products is the ingredients that keep them in solid form are often either waxes or similar ingredients like polyethylene, which aren’t a good match for acne-prone skin.

3. Heavy liquid products

girl checking her face for pimple in mirror

Some liquid foundations will clog your pores. |

Skin care expert and aesthetician Renée Rouleau reports you should avoid heavy liquid formulas like foundations if your skin tends to break out. She points to the ingredients mineral oil, petrolatum, and isopropyl palmitate as common culprits when it comes to clogging pores thanks to the size of their molecular structure, which can lead to oily texture. This is especially true when these ingredients are used in large quantities. If they’re listed in the first few ingredients on a product label, that can be a sign to look for an alternative.

4. Formulas with active sunscreens

man rubbing sunscreen onto his shoulder

You need sunscreen, but it could break you out. |

Paula’s Choice reports that, unfortunately, “all active sunscreen ingredients, whether pure minerals or synthetics, can trigger breakouts.” But there’s no getting around the fact that you still need to apply sunscreen every day. If you don’t, you can look forward to skin cancer, wrinkles, discoloration, and premature aging. You’ll need to experiment a bit to find a formula that works for you, so use the suggestions at Beautypedia as a starting point (Beautypedia is a great place to research all your makeup and skin care products, whether you have blemish-prone skin or not). While it might take a few tries, you can find SPF-equipped makeup that will protect your skin without breaking you out.

5. Any makeup you don’t wash off at night

Woman putting on lipstick

Always wash your makeup off. |

A story from Renée Rouleau’s blog reports it’s extremely important to wash your makeup off every night, no matter how exhausted you are. That’s because leaving makeup, oil, dirt, and debris on your skin makes it the perfect environment for bacteria — bacteria that can cause blemishes. Properly cleansing your face at night will remove these bacteria. It also creates a clean palette for the skin care products you use at night, which are both essential for preventing breakouts and enabling your skin to repair itself at night.