Can makeup cause acne? 

You've probably heard more than once that makeup can cause acne. But is it really true?

Joanna Żołnierkiewicz
Joanna Żołnierkiewicz
only 8 minutes of reading!

Today let's answer the question: "Does makeup cause acne?" Although this is a difficult task because many factors must be taken into account, the answer can be boiled down to one thing: makeup itself does not cause acne, but the way it is applied and the matching of the formulas of the cosmetics used to the skin condition . And now it's time to expand on the issue:

Can makeup harm your skin and cause acne? Makeup and acne

Minor blemishes happen on all skin types. Whether it's your period, your body's weakness, insufficient cleansing... To cover these and other imperfections and even out your skin tone, you apply make-up every day. However, as there are more and more of them, you begin to stubbornly mask them. They don't disappear, on the contrary - they spread all over your face and you start to get fed up with it. What are you doing wrong? Does makeup cause acne?  

Not necessarily. Take a closer look at your care, especially cleansing, and see what really connects make-up with acne.  


Acne is also associated with genetic conditions and hormonal disorders, especially in teenage years. This is the so-called teenage acne and it is completely natural that it may appear. Acne can also occur in adults, most often after the age of 30 - it is associated with major hormonal changes at this age.  

Acne and the formulas of makeup products used

What you put on your face matters a lot. You don't have to give up makeup. However, if your skin is prone to breakouts, you need to be vigilant and be very patient when looking for makeup products.  

Pay special attention to their composition and information on product labels. An important tip for you should be the information that a given cosmetic is non-comedogenic , which means it does not clog pores.

Choose foundation according to your skin type. Mostly oily and combination skin reacts badly to oily and heavy formulas, which combined with excess sebum can clog pores. In turn, dry skin and skin prone to dryness may react worse to mattifying and drying foundations, e.g. with salicylic acid.

What makeup ingredients should you avoid if your skin is prone to acne, blackheads and pimples? Red flags in colorful products include:

  • Benzaldehyde (synthetic fragrance) – comedogenic;
  • sodium chloride ( Sodium Chloride ) – added to some foundations as a thickener, it may have a clogging effect;
  • some dyes , especially red ones such as CI 45410 (Floxin B) and CI 16035 (Red 40);
  • ethyl alcohol – may excessively dry the skin, causing increased sebum production.

However, do not be fooled by the recommendations to avoid silicones in makeup.

You may have read or heard somewhere that these substances clog pores, do not allow the skin to breathe (we remind you - the skin does not breathe) and cause acne. These are common myths.

Silicones are added to the composition of some foundations recommended for oily and acne-prone skin - this makes the formulas lighter and can be oil-free, as well as subtly smoothing the skin surface. Bah! They also limit TEWL, i.e. transepidermal water loss, providing the upper layers of the skin with longer hydration.

The way you apply makeup matters

How do you prefer to apply makeup to your face? Using a sponge, brushes or fingertips? Each of these methods is good and we do not deny any of them, but there is one "but": hygiene.  

Under no circumstances should you apply make-up with dirty hands or with sponges or brushes that have not been washed for a long time. In this way, you will transfer a colony of "bad" bacteria to your skin, which can multiply and start to cause inflammation. They will disturb the microbiological balance of the skin. So before you start applying makeup, make sure your hands are clean and your accessories have been recently washed.

acne skin, acne and makeup, mistakes and care
Acne is normal. However, if you want to cover it with makeup, pay attention to what you use and how.

Fight these sins and make-up mistakes that may affect the appearance of pimples and acne

Admit how many of these small-big sins and mistakes you make.

You don't wash your brushes and sponges

Many dangerous microorganisms can grow on these accessories. And since you probably keep sponges and brushes in the bathroom, microorganisms have ideal conditions to develop and multiply. Now imagine that all these bacteria living there are transferred to your skin with the makeup you apply. Not cool, right? Therefore, try to give your brushes and sponges a good bath at least once a week . All you need is running water and mild soap, e.g. gray soap.

You allow yourself to sleep in full make-up

It's not a sin, it's SIN! We know that sometimes after a party it is difficult to pull yourself together and remove your makeup. Occasionally, but really occasionally, your skin will be able to forgive you. It's worse if you often allow yourself to sleep with makeup on. Start pushing yourself. Do you know why it's worth it?  

First of all, unwashed make-up, along with the impurities collected on it throughout the day and combined with sebum, will become a great breeding ground for bacteria that cause pimples and inflammation . Secondly, sleeping with make-up on causes the skin to dry out and promotes the faster appearance of wrinkles . Dirt, make-up and excess sebum do not allow the skin to fully regenerate and renew cells. It will not be able to cleanse itself of dead cells, which contributes to the appearance of blackheads and pimples and the overall deterioration of the skin condition.

You don't pay attention to the freshness of the cosmetics you use

How long can you keep eye shadows, highlighters and powders? Remember that loose cosmetics also have their importance. Usually indicated on the packaging with the PAO sign (indicates how many months a given product is valid from opening). Bacteria and fungi may begin to multiply in expired cosmetics .

You don't rinse the micellar fluid with water and you don't use a tonic

Evening comes, you reach for a cotton pad and micellar fluid, remove your makeup and continue your care ritual. It is not enough. After using micellar water, you should immediately wash it off with lukewarm water . Why? Its formula uses micelles that absorb impurities and makeup. If you do not wash off the liquid with water, many dirt particles may remain on the skin. After cleansing your skin, don't forget about a good toner that will balance the skin's pH and restore the microbiological balance.

Acne is a completely human thing . Change a few habits, take care of yourself, make thorough and sensitive skin cleansing your main goal and, above all, love it, even if it is imperfect.

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Joanna Żołnierkiewicz, editor-in-chief of, associated with the beauty industry since 2016. Founder of the blog . Goal for 2024: start postgraduate studies "Cosmetic production technology". Email:

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