Makeup Guide for Acne
Part One: What to Look For
Shopping for makeup can be overwhelming. There are so many options to consider such as color, coverage and feel. When you tack on the added pressure of finding a formula that is suitable for acne-prone skin, experimenting with makeup can end up doing more harm than good.
While makeup shopping for acne-prone skin can seem daunting at first, it is certainly not impossible, especially when you know what to look out for. Whether you prefer to reach for high-end brands, or stick with the more economic formulas, you definitely have many opportunities to find the right solution for you.
The first step in shopping for the right makeup for acne prone skin is becoming familiar with some key terms.
The term “non-comedogenic” stems from the word “comedones” which are a type of lesion (or pimple) that can form on the skin. Formulas labeled non-comedogenic are specifically designed to prevent blockage of the pores, an important part of the acne formation process you want to avoid. Combined with an excessive production of sebum, an oily substance formed at the base of the hair follicle, a pore clogged with anything from dead skin cells to makeup creates the perfect environment for acne to form and spread.
Parabens are used as preservatives, and intended to give longer shelf lives to everything from makeup to toothpaste, and a whole lot more. Parabens have been known to irritate the skin, especially if it is already sensitive, and have even been linked to breast cancer.
Another ingredient commonly found in hygienic and cosmetic products is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or SLS. During the manufacturing process, SLS is contaminated with a carcinogenic by-product. SLS can irritate the skin and eyes, is toxic to body organs and can be linked to cell mutations and cancer. (Please note that many shampoos and conditioners still contain sulfates!)
For those who already have oily skin, this term should be a no-brainer. The cause of acne is due to a hormonal imbalance which triggers the sebaceous glands to produce more oil and the last thing those with oily skin want to apply to their face is more oil.
It is always important to check the ingredients on these labels just to be safe. Much of what is marketed to consumers is just that-marketing buzzwords-but the declaration of any of the above stated terms is a good sign that you’re on the right path.
Perhaps more important than knowing what to look for, is knowing what to avoid, and unfortunately for consumers that list is seemingly endless. To keep it simple, it’s best to remember a few common terms, and look for them either in the prefix or suffix of ingredients.
Parabens are easily identified with names like methylparaben, propylparaben, isoparaben, or butylparaben. Used to prolong the shelf-life of cosmetics, these ingredients are essentially useless, as you really shouldn’t be using any products that are more than a year old.
Also known as stearic acid derivatives, isopropyl ingredients are esters of isopropyl alcohol, which dry out the skin and are known to clog pores.
Again, oily products are easy to spot as the name is clearly listed. These are not recommended for use by people who already have oily, acne-prone skin.
Although not so obvious, lanolin is an oil derived from lamb’s wool. Lanolin can irritate sensitive skin and lead to clogged pores.
Used for its soaping agencies, these products tend to build up on the skin, clogging pores.
- D & C Red dyes.
A pigment derived from coal tars, these dyes have been known to cause acne.
Tips for Acne Make-up:
- Avoiding further damage. If you have been using a product, any product - and your acne seems to be getting worse, discontinue use and make a note of the main ingredients. To make sure you recognize the WRONG product ALWAYS introduce new products one at the time with at least 3-5 days in between adding another one. This is a period that is needed to clearly identify if a particular product is a “ friend or foe”.
- Knowing which ingredients to look for and which to avoid gives you a solid base for selecting the best products for you and your acne-prone skin. Generally speaking, we recommend that those with acne-prone skin stay away from heavy, chemical-based products.
- How to conceal acne, there are four common techniques used to camouflage the face with minimal irritation. Please experiment with the products and steps below and determine what is best for you.
- Primer. Like any canvas, priming the surface allows for a smooth application of the product, and results in optimal staying power. Choose a primer without the color but ultra-smoothing texture such as YSL’s Touche Éclat Blur Primer or one with light-diffusion properties in a shade tone lighter than your skin such as L’Oréal’s Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream.
- Concealer. Used to cover redness or scarring. Choose a lighter texture and remember to blend it well. Select a shade that is half a tone lighter than your skin and foundation works better than darker concealers. For red marks, rosacea and active acne breakouts, you may try a concealer with green tones that will camouflage the red overtone of the skin. Many concealers that are intended for acne-prone skin are also designed to treat breakouts with a low dose of salicylic acid. Be mindful when using products with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide as they tend to dry out the skin, causing the skin to produce more skin oil which leads to additional breakouts. They are also known to cause allergic reactions.
- Foundation, tinted moisturizer, BB cream, or CC cream. These are for overall coverage, and day or evening make-up needs. Select a product with medium coverage for evening and light coverage for daytime. You can always layer them and re-apply the foundation to obtain more complete cover without a heavy or cakey look.
- Contouring and blush. Use lightly and avoid spots not affected by acne breakouts so you do not underline them. Focus on the apples of the cheeks.
- Powder. Applying loose or pressed powder with a clean brush will set the aforementioned products, keeping everything in its place.
More on how to apply these products in Part Two of this article!
You can get the maximum results out of your products by starting with a clean palate and tools. Always be sure to wash and moisturize your face before applying makeup, using a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser and moisturizer. Wait few minutes after you moisturize so it has a chance to be absorbed into the skin. Remember to ALWAYS remove all makeup before going to bed. By keeping your makeup brushes clean and changing them often, you greatly reduce the chance of old makeup, dirt, bacteria or oil buildup clogging the pores and leading to breakouts.
In addition to these tips, the most important way you can contribute to the health of your skin is to stay consistent with your skincare routine and pairing it with a systemic treatment like AcnEase®, which combats both the symptoms and causes of acne. AcnEase® addresses the underlying cause of acne and neutralizes excess hormones, leaving your skin clean, healthy and acne-free. Our all-botanical ingredient based formula doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals and there are no side effects. AcnEase® is recommended for people of all ages, complexions and gender and can even be used by pregnant and nursing mothers. AcnEase® will not react with any type of make-up so it can be used with any brand or type you choose.
What are your makeup tips? How do YOU make acne blemishes less visible, acne marks and scars less prominent, and/or an acne –rosacea red hue fade away? Are there certain ingredients you absolutely must avoid? Any makeup products you can’t live without?
Please tell us in the comments below!