7 Culprits Behind Your Acne Breakout That Are Hiding In Your Makeup


Did you know that your makeup may be hiding ingredients that irritate your skin? For those who are dealing with stubborn blemishes, they may resort to makeup to cover up these problems. However, that solution is only temporary and may even expose your skin to further damage and acne breakouts. In fact, makeup itself may have been the culprit after all!


Here are some of the ingredients commonly found in your favorite makeup brands, which could be causing your skin outbreaks.


Bismuth Oxychloride

This is a mineral which is also known as “synthetic pearl” because it gives powders their shimmery, lacquered finish when applied on the skin. This ingredient can be found in most mineral makeups, particularly in loose powders in high concentrations. 

It is an irritant for many individuals because it leaves the skin with a reddish and itchy rash. It encourages the formation of blackheads and whiteheads, and severe cystic acne with regular use.


Mica, Silica, and Talc

Highlighters, strobing powders, and bronzers have taken the makeup world by storm. However, their light-reflecting particles responsible for that dewy finish can potentially lead to breakouts and that is because of these three common ingredients. Mica is a colour additive that you can find in most cosmetic and personal care products; however, it is safer than the other two. Talc, on the other hand, is something you can avoid by opting for brands that use a similar mineral, but is safer and still produces the same effect. You can minimize silica exposure from your powders if you buy from ingredient wholesalers along with a sifting jar.

Constant exposure can lead to skin dryness and irritation. They can also be pore-clogging; hence, it is not advised for those whose skin is acne-prone.



Alcohol is also one ingredient that you can find in several of your makeup and skincare products. It is used as a solvent to facilitate blending, an astringent (e.g. toner, cleansers), to enhance absorption, and as a preservative. It is not always a villain when it comes to skin care, as what many would imagine. In fact, it is used to get rid of excess oil for those with oily or acne-prone skin. They are not created equally, so you have the less damaging solutions and the more potent ones.

The obvious problem with alcohol is that it dries and irritates the skin. It strips away most of the skin’s natural acid mantle which dehydrates the cells. Your skin relies on its natural oil production to help maintain its natural barrier against bacteria, pollution and all that gunk. So, stripping down all of that sebum can actually expose your skin and exacerbate acne problems. When acne-prone skin becomes overly dry, it copes by producing more oil, hence worsening the problem. 

To avoid this problem, there are alcohol-free products that are widely available in the market today.



Sulfates are detergents or surfactants that are commonly found in facial cleansers, shampoos, soaps and toothpaste. You can also find it in cosmetics used mainly as cleansing agents, and they include, ammonium lauryl sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, and sodium laureth sulfate. These ingredients are added to products to create a lather or bubbles and to remove dirt and oils from the skin and hair. However, the problem with sulfates is that they can cause varying levels of skin irritation. They leave a film on your skin that penetrates into the pores and clogs them up, leading to whiteheads and blackheads. It also dries up the skin which only increases the chances of acne formation.



This is a family of chemical compounds that are used as preservatives in makeups and other beauty products. They may be listed as butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, methylparaben, or propylparaben. These ingredients have been approved by authorities to be used in the daily skin care products you use. They don’t necessarily aggravate your acne directly, but there is concern that they can mimic estrogen in the body, which could influence your hormones and contribute to acne.


Fragrances and Dyes

Fragrances and Dyes are common in makeup products. Fragrances are added to makeup to mask the smell of chemicals and other synthetic ingredients. But, let’s face it, we are sometimes drawn to certain lipsticks or makeup products because the scent is heavenly. Dyes, on the other hand, are responsible for the array of colors which allows you to express your style and creativity.

The problem with these two is that they contain strong chemicals that can be especially irritating to sensitive and acne-prone skin.



Silicones are used in skin care products to create a smooth, soft and velvety texture to the skin. They help create an even distribution of makeup products on the skin, and one example is the ubiquitous cosmetic ingredient, Dimethicone. Due to their light-reflective properties, silicones are popular ingredients used in makeup primers, BB creams, foundations, and other cream-based products.

The problem is that silicones increase penetration of some ingredients. So, if there are ingredients in a certain formula which can be particularly irritating to oily or acne-prone skin, its likelihood of causing acne increases.

Silicones also create semi-occlusive seals. With prolonged exposure to oil, bacteria and dead skin underneath that seal, one is romancing a potential skin problem. All these irritants on top of the makeup you have on your skin is a perfect recipe for acne.


How to protect your skin from breaking out because of your makeup

1. It is very important that when applying makeup, you should start with a clean face. When you don’t remove the excess oil and dead skin cells that have accumulated overnight, you can end up clogging your pores. Therefore, go for your skincare routine first before applying any makeup.


2. Experts suggest that it is safe to prep the skin using a salicylic acid base cleanser to remove the excess oil, dirt and dead cells from the skin’s surface.


3. Switch to fragrance-free skincare and beauty products, especially for those with sensitive skin. Keep an eye out for terms such as perfume, aroma, essential oils, or parfum.


4. Use makeup products that are noncomedogenic. These means that it cannot clog the pores or cause pimples.


5. Make sure that your makeup brushes and sponges are clean. Old makeup, oil and dirt may remain on those brushes after every use. This even makes it a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.


6. Avoid going to sleep with full-face makeup. Aside from the makeup, you are also harboring dirt and oil which you can transfer to the pillow. Aside from keeping your face vulnerable to all that gunk, you increase your chances every day that you fail to change your pillow covers. All these are insidious factors that can cause acne.


7. Double cleansing may be twice the effort, but you will reap the benefits. It is a two-step process that involves cleansing the skin twice. It is perfect for those who are fond of wearing foundation or makeup because these products can be difficult to remove. The first wash lifts away the surface cosmetics, and the second wash deals with the skin’s surface to clean the pores and treat the blemishes. It thoroughly removes any makeup residue or dead skin cells.


These tips can go a long way, especially if makeup is part of your daily routine. It is also important that you become more watchful with the products that you choose, if you want to protect your skin from the daily exposure to harmful ingredients. Little steps and a conscious effort to be careful with what you are applying on your skin makes a world of difference.


Has acne created unattractive and stubborn marks on your skin? Create a beautiful canvas for your makeup that doesn’t require you to use up sticks of concealers. Talk to Dr. Tan today and see how to keep your facial skin on fleek!



If you would like to book a no obligation consultation to meet Dr Tan, our staff will be happy to make an appointment for you. Please don’t hesitate to call +65 6235 0010 for more details or make an enquiry by filling in the fields here.


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