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6497-000145Before you slather on your foundation, check below to see if this applies to you.

It’s a vicious cycle, you wear makeup to cover up your blemishes, only for you to take it off and discover more blemishes!! If this is a normal situation for you as it for at least 30% of all cosmetics users, then you might have what is known as Acne Cosmetica, a type of Acne caused by cosmetic products.

What is Acne Cosmetica? and what causes it?

Acne Cosmetica or Cosmetic acne, is a very persistent form of acne that appears in the form of “small bumps” predominately on the scalp, hairline, neck and face.

There are four main culprits of Acne: 1) Overactive oil glands, 2) Blockage of the skin pores, 3) skin bacteria, and 4) Inflammation. Oil glands, also known as sebaceous glands are designed to produce oil; however due to some hormonal imbalance, the oil glands become overactive and enlarges, producing oily skin. Acne then occurs when the pores, from which oil flows, becomes blocked. Blockage of the pores is usually caused by bad hygiene, and in the case of cosmetic acne, by the use of comedogenic or “pore blocking” ingredients in beauty products.

Cosmetic acne can also be caused by skin bacteria on makeup brushes and applicators. Your skin has a normal bacterium known as Propionibacterium acne, that helps protect the skin from harmful bacteria; but when oil, dirt and bacteria gets trapped in your pores, this bacteria will grow in the blocked pore causing skin irritation and inflammation. Such inflammations are usually characterized by swelling, discomfort, and redness.

Since the skin has a hard time dealing with its own oil, applying artificial oil from cosmetics makes it worse, that is why individuals with relatively normal skin can suddenly breakout in pimples while using certain cosmetics products.

If you know that you suffer from cosmetic acne, the first step in treating this problem is to find out what comedogenic product might be causing this. If you notice breakouts along the hairline and forehead region, the your hair products might be at fault, if you break out on your upper cheeks, then it might be your blush; while breakouts throught the face and neck might be as a result of comedogenic face creams, and foundations.

What can I do??

78767080If your Hair and Beauty products are causing you to breakout, be sure to do the following:

1. Stay CLEAR from Comedogenic or “pore-clogging” products, such as those that contain: mineral oil, cocoa butter, stearic acid, Lanolin, isopropyl isothermal, putty stearate, isostearyl neopentonate, myristyl myristate, decyl oleate, octyl sterate, octyl palmitate and isocetyl stearate, laureth 4, isopropyl myristate or acetylated lanolin, and PPG myristyl propionate.

2. Choose products labeled “Non-comedogenic”.

3. Be aware, “Oil-free” does not necessarily mean “Oil-free”; Many cosmetic manufacturers now substitute chemicals that come from synthetic sources such as animal, vegetable and mineral oil. So be sure to read your makeup label to note what kind of oil it contains.

4. Be sure to frequently clean your makeup utensils: bacteria often gets trapped in your foundation pad and brushes, be sure to wash them frequently or switch to disposable ones. Also use Isopropyl alchohol while cleansing them.

5. Avoid Liquid makeup and stick to powder based ones. This is because most liquid makeup are oil-based.

6. Wear Less makeup or None, every once in a while- One of the best things you can do for your skin is to leave it bare. Give yourself a facial at least once a month, go bare-faced in the weekends and just allow your pores to breath.

7. Avoid SLEEPING in your makeup- This is a MUST-DO, regardless of how tired you are at the end of the day, make sure you wash your face. Invest in some disposable facial wipes if you must!


  1. Bebe

    June 19, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    i have very good facial it baffles me that my pimples never go [they seem to have turmed my face into an acne farm!] finally…i know whats causing my acne… have to ditch that foundation

    so…anyone out there know of any oil-free or reduced oil non-pore clogging foundation? ta

  2. Bola

    June 20, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    thanks, very helpful.
    I’ve been having breakouts on my forehead, and it hasn’t reduced despite my continuous face-washing.

  3. Adaku Stephanie

    June 21, 2009 at 2:13 am

    at bebe.
    I had the same problem. I was using Mac, My skin will break out and my skin will get so oily. I went to sephoras and they recommended Make up Forever Matifying Foundation’. Its oil free and water resistant. I have zero break outs and it doesnt feel like I have make up on and my skin doesnt get as oily. Let me stop before I start sounding like an advert.
    P.S: its kinda pricey though, but i think its worth it

  4. Tosin Nguher

    June 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    I do not agree with the writer that bad hygiene causes acne, because it doesnt.Acne is not caused by anything you’re doing – what you eat, how often you wash your face or work out – but by a combination of factors at work far beneath the surface of your skin. I know lots of people who wash their face regularly and do not sleep with makeup, who have loads of acne, i am also included. equating hygiene with acne is a misnomer which i had believed for such a long time and for some reason which a lot of cosmetologists (or wannabes) claim causes acne. I had to do extensive research on it before i got the answer… acne is actually a natural occurrence to which those who are succeptible to it really have no control over. Before an acne actually manifests on your face, it’s been underneath your skin for about two weeks! and it has to come out, in which case you can do nothing about it. Research has shown that genetics has a lot to do with one having acne, it is estimated that one in four adults has acne, nearly half of all adult women have moderate to serious acne and it could be with someone for up to 20 years. There is no cure for acne and the only thing you can do is prevent it from occuring; how do you achieve this?
    Nourish – A balanced diet with fresh, unprocessed foods from all four groups and plenty of water can help your skin fight breakouts.
    • Cleanse – Gently wash your face twice a day to remove excess oil, bacteria and dead skin cells. Avoid overwashing.
    • Protect – Avoid excess sun exposure and wear at least SPF 15 sunscreen every day, even if it’s cloudy.
    • Rest – A good night’s sleep (7-8 hours) can do wonders for your complexion and immune system, so your lesions clear up more quickly.
    • Exercise – Your skin benefits from an increase in blood flow and blood oxygen level achieved by exercise.
    • Prevent – Wear as little makeup as possible, because it can clog pores. Remove all makeup before you exercise, or before you go to sleep.
    • Relax – When you become tense, sweat glands in your face tend to produce more oil. It’s important to take time every day to relax.
    Lastly, i just discovered a product called proactiv which was recommended to me by a friend just when i had given up on my face, meeeeeen, this thing works wonders!, i use the clenser, toner and the moisturiser, i have ordered more which includes the mask and other things. My face is a lot better with less than a month’s use of the product, its still a work in progress though but its great.
    Wow! i have even written longer than the original writer sef …lol peace out!

  5. AZARA

    June 21, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    @ Tosin Nguher, Thanks for your insightful input, for the purpose of this article titled “cosmetic Acne” I decided to focus on external factors that lead to Acne such as habits like sleeping with ur Makeup on and wearing makeup with HARSH ingredients. Also the bit on Bad Hygiene causing acne was actually from a dermatologist’s article on Acne.

    This article is strictly about Acne/breakouts CAUSED by Cosmetics and how to deal with it.

    Thanks again for the Insight.

    [email protected]

  6. mary

    June 21, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Thanks your write up is also as useful

  7. Bebe

    June 21, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    No one is saying bad facial hygiene is the ultimate cause of acne, [and by facial hygiene, i dont mean washing the face alone] Everyone knows its a combination of different factors. It just becomes troubling when you do carry out all the preventive routines as u have listed above [cleanse, wash, drink water, fruits, sleep etc] and still dont get results. And trust me..i know my products. i have used proactiv before..even other products that are so expensive[clear pores, acne-statin etc] …that i have to buy on e-bay, and there was no difference at all!!!
    The point is not about sleeping with make-up, its about using the ‘right’ make-up, so that when its on your’s not just covering ur imperfections and at the same time worsening them.

    @Adaku: thanks a lot, will look for a sephora outlet close by. Ta

  8. Tosin Nguher

    June 23, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    @ Bebe, I didnt say that bad hygiene was the ultimate cause of acne, i actually agree with what she wrote on the other factors which could cause it. I just didnt agree with the bad hygiene one thats all, so that people dont go washing their face so much so that it aggravates rather than abate the situation. Also, not everyone knows its a combination of different factors that causes acne and no knowledge is lost anyway and I just thought that i should share my opinion that. There are different products which may work for one person and may not work for the other, i have used so many products in the past which people said worked for them but didnt work for me. i mentioned proactiv because its working for me not because i think it is fool proof, it may not work for some people. Mac products may cause acne for some people and may not for other people, i also use it but it causes no problem for me. It just really boils down to the fact that we all have different skin types.

  9. barbs

    October 6, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    one thing i noticed is that most of the make-up ranges in Nigeria do not have some products. for example contour powder, bronzing powder, make up remover, primers.etc. and since they dont have these products they also dont have the brushes to go with them. the Kabuki brush is a brush staple now but none of them have it in their collection.

    i also dont hear a lot about them these things eg. contouring, bronzing etc. what do you guys think?
    is it that we dont really need them or what?

    i like these techniques a lot cos they are ways of applying make up wothout using too much and they are perfect for the nude make-up.

  10. barbs

    October 6, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    sequel to my previous comment…..
    bcos these make-up ranges dont have all these extras, they dont have make-up brush maintenance products in their range. it seems to me like they show you how to put the make-up on and dont tell you how to take them off, which we all know if very unhealthy for the skin.

  11. bukonla86

    December 27, 2009 at 2:25 am

    in talking about the link between acne and hygiene, a lot of factors must be put into consideration. a natural predisposition+ oily makeup+ stress+not so healthy eating habits+ our wonderful tropical weather+poorly maintained make up instruments (or making the almost unpardonable offence of sharing sensitive products) equals recipe for disaster.

  12. chiamaka

    October 30, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    I totally agree wit ur article,some acne is just simply hormonal n others due to bad hygiene n comodogenic products,I rily wanted 2 ask seda MAC studiofix is one of dem,cos it rily gets my face so oily

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