Is It Good to Use Makeup on Acne-Prone Skin?

Does makeup cause acne? This age-old question usually leaves many people feeling confused about the link between the two. If you suffer from acne, you’re probably curious about how you can apply makeup or if you should apply it at all. In this article, we’ll provide you with the answers you need.

Does makeup irritate acne-prone skin?

Some makeup products can irritate your skin and cause a type of acne called acne cosmetica. This kind of acne is usually caused by ingredients such as oils and waxes, which are found in your makeup products. They can create a barrier on your skin and clog the pores.

How to select makeup that won't irritate the skin

While some products can clog pores and cause pimples, there are so many others that won't cause any harm to your face. The key is to choose wisely.

1. Use natural or mineral-based makeup

If you have acne, you will need to choose acne-safe makeup. Natural or mineral makeup is the best when it comes to acne-prone skin. It has fewer chemicals and tends to be gentler on the face. Also, try to look for more skincare-based makeup that can help your skin while also providing it with the coverage it needs.

2. Use non-comedogenic products

If you have acne-prone skin, you should avoid ingredients that won’t absorb into your skin. So, when you’re shopping for makeup, always look for oil-free and non-comedogenic products, as they won’t clog your pores and are less likely to cause breakouts.

3. Avoid alcohol-based makeup products

If you have acne-prone skin, steer clear of makeup that contains alcohol. Using products with this ingredient can increase oil production. Additionally, it can also dry out your skin, which can aggravate breakouts.

4. Avoid fragrances

Fragrances, both synthetic and natural, can also clog pores and cause breakouts. If you have acne-prone skin, look for unscented or fragrance-free options.

How to apply makeup on acne-prone skin?

Applying makeup for acne is very simple, only slightly different from a normal makeup routine. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it correctly:

  1. Start with skincare before makeup. Ensure your face is clean and free of bacteria that can aggravate your breakouts further. Use a gentle cleanser followed by a serum to help decongest pores and reduce acne. Then, seal it with a moisturizer.
  2. Use a primer. Using a good primer will provide a smooth base and also help your makeup last longer. For acne-prone skin, a mattifying primer might be better because your face is already naturally shiny.
  3. Use a color corrector. Acne can cause redness and discoloration on your skin — that’s where color correctors come to the rescue. Just dab it in the problem area, and then blend gently.
  4. Foundation. The best foundation for acne is a liquid foundation. Always go for a lightweight formula as it’s less likely to clog your pores, and don't use too much. Apply thin layers and then build it up as you prefer.
  5. Concealer. Use a concealer in your exact shade. Too light or too dark can make your pimples look more obvious. However, if concealer feels too heavy for you, you can always skip this step.
  6. Setting powder. Setting powder can help control excess oil production and make your makeup last longer, giving a matte and natural, smooth appearance. Finish with a setting spray — it can help prevent shine from showing up on your face.
  7. Skip the shimmers. If you have a lot of breakouts on your cheeks, avoid too much product in that area. Skip products like highlighter, blush, and bronzer that are made to draw attention to the cheeks.

How to avoid skin breakouts

When it comes to makeup, here are some tips that can help you avoid skin breakouts:

  • Don’t add thick layers of makeup. Even if you use the right type of makeup, layering it on too thickly can clog your pores. Stick to thin layers if you can.
  • Apply makeup gently. This will help avoid irritation that can lead to acne. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, your touch should be feather-light. Using makeup brushes can help you apply makeup with gentle strokes.
  • Clean your makeup brushes regularly. Makeup brushes collect dirt, oil, and bacteria. You should clean them with soap and water every week to avoid new breakouts.
  • Don’t share your makeup or applicators. Acne is not contagious, but bacteria and oil from other people's skin can stick to your makeup products and applicators. This may cause breakouts.

Acne skin aftercare

Having acne-prone skin can be a real challenge. But with the right skincare, you can reduce these problems and achieve healthier skin.

Cleanse twice a day

It’s always recommended you cleanse twice a day, in the morning and before bed, using a gentle cleanser. If you’re wearing makeup, you’ll want to use a makeup remover first and then cleanse your face to ensure it’s all off. Not removing makeup can transfer to your pillow and clog your pores, which can trigger breakouts.

Choose the right skincare

Always make sure you choose gentle skincare products. Avoid products that can irritate your skin, including toners and exfoliants. Some of these products can dry out your skin and make acne breakouts appear worse.

Don’t skip a moisturizer

Some people with acne-prone skin often skip moisturizers for fear of making their skin oilier. But a moisturizer is a must, regardless of your skin type, because it helps maintain your skin’s moisture balance. Always choose a lightweight moisturizer that is suitable for your skin type.

Avoid popping pimples

While it can be very tempting to pop pimples, this might do more harm than good. When you squeeze your pimples, you’re likely to push bacteria inside. This can lead to inflammation and scarring in the long term. So, it’s best to avoid touching your pimples excessively.

Makeup may help you conceal acne breakouts, but it cannot treat your acne. Some products can even make it worse. But, using non-comedogenic formulas, applying correctly, and incorporating a thorough skincare routine before and after makeup can help you reduce the chances of breakouts. If you experience more acne after wearing makeup, talk to a dermatologist to determine the best course of action.


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