Best cosmetics for acne

Does makeup cause acne?

Why it’s important that your makeup and skincare are in harmony.

Does makeup cause acne?

There is a lot of confusion around acne and makeup. Whilst it is tempting to want to cover up a bad breakout with a thick foundation and concealer, this can make the matter worse. It’s not the foundation that’s causing the outbreak, it’s more likely to be the application that’s the problem. It’s also important to choose makeup products that are non-comedogenic and tested. Here are some of the common mistakes you might be making:

Not prepping your skin correctly

Whether you believe primers can prolong your makeup or not, there’s no doubt that they provide a protective barrier between your skin and the potentially pore-clogging foundation. They also seal in any treatment products you’ve applied. You can also use a moisturiser beneath your foundation for a similar reason. It is important that you check the ingredients of any foundations you apply over your prepped skin as some can block pores and actively cause acne-producing bacteria to grow. It’s always a good idea to look for the words “non-comedogenic” on product labels.

You want your skincare and makeup to work in harmony so finding products that work synergistically is vital.

Contaminating the foundation


As we all know, hands carry a lot of germs and these can be easily transmitted to your face. You are better off using a brush or sponge – just make sure these are spotlessly clean.

If you think about it, when you use a brush or sponge that you’ve used previously, you could actually reapply oils, dead skin cells and bacteria over and over again. Make sure you wash the applicators at least once every two weeks, using a mild detergent and lukewarm water. 

Remember, there are good bacteria and bad bacteria on your skin’s surface. You need to be careful that you don’t use overly harsh cleansing agents coupled with dirty brushes – and never be tempted to squeeze your spots. 

Using the wrong foundation formula or too much powder

Check the ingredients of your foundations carefully as certain ingredients can clog pores and therefore allow bacteria to grow. Look out for make up that is labelled “non-comedogenic”.

Methyl methylacrylate crosspolymer is commonly used synthetic film former in high performance foundations often touted as ‘clean’, however, we have to pause and question what this means for skin with acne. Methyl methylacrylate crosspolymer is extremely good at, well, forming a film over the skin and making the formula stick to the skin, like glue…because it is a derivative of superglue. It’s often used for industrial purposes and surgeons often use it to knit broken bones together in favor of harsher alternatives like metal pins. When this ingredient is used in a product, it can makes the formula particularly challenging to remove from the skin without harsher cleansing ingredients or methods. We suspect that for acne, this ingredient could cause sensitization and irritation that leads to the appearance of redness. 


Powders can also clog your pores. People with oily skin tend to use a lot of powder in the hope that it will make them look less greasy. Instead, the combination of oily skin and powder can make the foundation look cakey.

How do I know if my makeup is causing my acne?

There is an actual term for acne brought on by wearing makeup – acne cosmetica. It can happen to people with otherwise clear skin and can be caused by any cosmetic including lipsticks and lip balms. 


The effect isn’t always immediate and it can take some detective work to make the link between a product and the acne. It can turn into a vicious circle with you continuing to apply the reactive product to cover up the affected area.


To determine if you have acne cosmetica, try eliminating your skin and hair products one at a time. And check your labels if you switch brands. For the best makeup for acne-prone skin, look for “won’t clog pores”, or “non-comedogenic”.