acne makeup science vegan skincare

Makeup & Acne: Is There A Proven Link?

Along with the recommendations to stop eating chocolate, wash your face more and apply toothpaste and/or rubbing alcohol to your blemishes, if you’ve experienced acne whether light, moderate or severe, chances are that you’ve also been told that wearing makeup will cause your acne or worse. Is this a worthy concern?

In a 2014 study of 208 women within The Journal of Clinical & Aesthetic Dermatology’s “Understanding The Burden of Adult Female Acne”, it is noted that “Participants most frequently reported their acne breakouts as being triggered by hormones/menstrual cycle (60.6%), stress (55.3%), sweating (40.9%), cosmetics/ makeup (39.9%), and humidity/weather (33.2%).”

The key causes of acne have been broken down into four significant areas, detailed in the 2017 British Medical Journal’s “Best Practice: Acne Vulgaris”:

“Sebaceous gland hyperplasia and excess sebum production…abnormal follicular differentiation…P acnes colonisation…and inflammation and immune response.”

Generally (but not exclusively), individuals with oilier skin types are prone to increased levels of acne throughout their life, or perhaps you aren’t shedding your keratinocytes (your keratin-producing cells) and your follicles are being clogged in this way. The BMJ guide then goes on to add, “External factors occasionally contribute to acne, including mechanical trauma, cosmetics…”. 

With the significant variation in cosmetic formulations, we cannot assume that all makeup is made the same. For some individuals with oily skin, a mineral powder may provide the oil absorption they require throughout the day, and prove non-problematic for their skin. Occlusive ingredients like waxes or heavy oils in foundation, concealer or contouring products should be used with caution.

The 2011 “Management of Acne” article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal notes: “Patients should ensure that their facial products, including sunscreens, are noncomedogenic. They should also avoid oil-based makeup. Some topical acne products contain a sunscreen.”

You’ll likely have heard the term “non-comedogenic” used within skin care or makeup marketing – essentially meaning that it is less likely to cause comedones (blackheads). As we know, there are several types of acne including papules, pustules or cysts, and so non-comedogenic products are unlikely to keep us free of acne at all times.

It is wise to review your skin care and makeup routine for oily, waxy and heavy products especially if your skin is already producing the oil it requires (and sometimes more), and opt for vegan, cruelty-free liquid, gel or powder formulations.

We also know that studies suggest that, for this with acne, regularly applying makeup is of psychological benefit, and this, teamed with the enjoyment many experience from the process of applying it, makes it appropriate for those with acne, and should not be of significant concern.

Remember to choose your products wisely, and have fun!



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