Yes! You can wear makeup, but you’ll want to choose it carefully. Some cosmetics can cause acne. When this happens, you develop a type of acne called acne cosmetica. Even women who would not otherwise have acne can develop acne cosmetica from wearing makeup.
How do I figure out if my makeup is causing my acne?
If you have acne cosmetica, you’ll likely have many tiny bumps on your face. These bumps usually appear on the cheeks, chin, or forehead. Many women develop whiteheads that rise above their skin slightly. You may also notice some pimples.
Acne cosmetica can take time to appear. It can take anywhere from a few days to 6 months for blemishes to appear. This delay can make it difficult to see a connection between acne and the makeup causing it. As you see new blemishes, you may treat the acne and then cover it with acne-causing makeup. Continuing to use the makeup leads to a never-ending cycle of breakouts.
This never-ending cycle can feel frustrating. Many women start to believe that nothing will clear their acne.
How do I clear my acne cosmetica?
Even when makeup causes your acne, you can still wear makeup and see clearer skin. You’ll have to use different makeup though. Here’s what dermatologists recommend to see clearer skin:
1: Choose your makeup carefully: You’ll want to stop using any makeup that causes your breakouts. Of course, it can be hard to tell which ones these are. The best strategy is to look at all of your makeup, hair care products, and skin care products. Make sure they say one of the following:
- Won’t clog pores
2: Wash your face twice a day with a mild cleanser & after any sweaty activity
3: Use your fingertips to gently wash and rinse your face. You want to gently apply your cleanser with your fingertips and gently rinse it off with lukewarm water. Don’t scrub — even to remove makeup.
If you find that you still have makeup on your skin after washing your face, gently remove it with an oil-free makeup remover. After using a makeup remover, rinse it off.
4: Apply makeup gently. Your touch should be feather light. You want to avoid irritating your skin. Makeup brushes can help you apply everything gently.
5: Clean your makeup brushes every week and make sure you’re the only one who uses them. While acne isn’t contagious, acne-causing bacteria, dead skin cells, and oil from other people’s skin can stick to your makeup, makeup brushes, and applicators. When you use shared makeup and tools, those acne-causing culprits can spread to your skin, leading to new breakouts.
6: Treat your acne. Acne cosmetica will often clear when you stop using the makeup, hair, or skin care products that clog your pores.
If anything else is causing your acne, however, you’ll still see acne. That’s why dermatologists recommend that you treat your acne with products that contain one or more of the following ingredients:
- Benzoyl peroxide (fights acne-causing bacteria)
- Salicylic acid (helps unclog pores)
- Adapalene (helps unclog pores)
You can buy these acne treatments without a prescription.
It can take 4 to 8 weeks to see some improvement.
When to seek a dermatologist’s help
Acne cosmetica tends to clear once you stop using what’s causing it. Finding the cause, however, can be difficult. So many products can lead to acne cosmetica, including foundation, blush, and concealer. Some hair and skin care products can also cause it.
To complicate matters, more than acne cosmetica could be causing your acne.
A dermatologist can help you sort it out, so you can see clearer skin.
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia I graduated magna cum laude from Southern Methodist University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. I then attended the Medical College of Georgia where I was elected to the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society in my junior year. I then moved to Texas to attend Texas Tech University and completed an internship in Internal Medicine and residency in Dermatology at Texas Tech University where I served as Chief Resident. After residency, I worked in private practice serving Katy, Sugar Land, and Pearland, TX. During my free time, I enjoy reading, working out, and spending time with my husband and three children.