Can Makeup Cause Acne?

Can Makeup Cause Acne? - Three Ships

Do you think makeup is contributing to your breakouts? You may be right. There are many causes for acne, but is makeup one of them? Keep scrolling to learn  everything you need to know about makeup and whether it is your acne culprit.

What Could Be Causing Your Acne & How to Prevent It?

Influencers and experts everywhere spread pro tricks for cosmetic application, makeup removal, and skincare tips. It may seem challenging to know who to trust and how to care for your skin. After all, your skin is your makeup’s canvas.

Skincare can be tricky to navigate. You hear things like, “Don’t wear makeup too often.” or “Your pores will become clogged if you wear makeup to the gym.” What gives? You’re tired of the makeup-breakout cycle; you apply a dab of concealer to cover a blemish, but it gets worse, so you use a little more. It’s a never-ending cycle.

Fact is, there are many causes for acne, and makeup isn’t necessarily the sole reason. You need to ask yourself questions, like what type of makeup you use? What ingredients does it contain? How well do you cleanse your face?

These questions may help you find the source of your acne.

Makeup Ingredients: Look For Non-Comedogenic

At Three Ships, one of the things we believe in, is the importance of knowing how to read the ingredient label on your products.

It is crucial to carefully read the label on your favorite foundation to determine whether your makeup is the culprit of your clogged pores. Clogged pores may lead to acne and continued breakouts if they’re not properly treated.

Non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic are terms used to describe makeup and skincare products designed to deter pore blockages and breakouts when used. You may also see products with labels such as “hypoallergenic,” “mineral-based, or “oil-free.”

Choosing to use products with these labels may help prevent breakouts from occurring. Everyone’s skin is different, so this labeling doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you won’t break out, but it lessens the chance.

Some cosmetics are specifically designed for troubled skin. These formulas include acne-fighting ingredients that help combat pimples and blackheads.

There are a few common pore-clogging ingredients that you’ll want to steer clear from if possible, including:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate - May strip the skin of its natural oils, causing irritation and excess oil production
  • Isopropyl Myristate - Has a high probability of clogging pores
  • Laureth-4 - Known to irritate the skin and clog pores.
  • Myristyl Myristate - May be irritating to the skin
  • Silicone (Dimethicone) - Prevents the skin from being able to “breathe.”
  • Alcohol - Extremely drying to the skin
  • Acrylics & Oil - May clog pores and cause breakouts

Switch It Up

Try a powder foundation instead of liquid. Liquid foundation makeup is often oil-based and wears heavily on the skin, yet powder-based makeup is lighter and helps absorb oil. If you can’t bear to part ways with your liquid foundation, though, make sure it is oil-free and non-comedogenic.

Apply Products With Care

Apply your makeup with care, using gentle strokes. Harsh scrubbing or rough strokes may irritate the skin, causing acne mechanica.

Acne Mechanica causes new or existing acne to become worse due to excessive friction. Prevent this from occurring by being gentle with your delicate skin.

Keep Your Brushes Clean

Don’t let your makeup tools be the cause of your breakouts. The bristles on your makeup brushes are a breeding ground for bacteria.

Applying makeup with your fingertips, sponges, or brushes will cause the spread of bacteria if not properly cleaned. Clean your foundation brushes once per week and all other brushes once every seven to ten days.

Using clean tools to apply your makeup will ensure you are not spreading oils or bacteria from the brushes to your skin. Never share your makeup brushes, as this will spread germs and bacteria and cause infection. Do you know how to clean your makeup brushes? Here’s how, according to the American Academy of Dermatology:

  1. Hold your brush’s bristles over warm water and allow the water to rinse away residual makeup. Allow only the tips of the brush to get wet.
  2. Fill a bowl with warm water and a drop of facial cleanser, brush cleaner, or clarifying shampoo.
  3. Swirl the brush tips in the bowl, and massage the brush tips with your fingers.
  4. Rinse the brush tips under warm, clean water.
  5. Continue shampooing and rinsing the brushes until the water runs clear from the bristles.
  6. Remove excess water from the brush by squeezing it into a clean paper towel.
  7. Lay your brushes flat on a clean, dry towel until they are thoroughly dry.

Clean Your Sponges and Blenders

In a perfect world, you’d clean your sponges and blenders after each use, but we know you don’t have time for that. Opt for a once per week cleaning session with a drop or two of your facial cleanser and some warm water.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Gently squeeze your sponge under warm, running water a few times until it is thoroughly wet.
  2. Place a few drops of your facial cleanser (not oil) directly onto the sponge and massage it to incorporate the soap into the sponge.
  3. Rinse the sponge under warm water until the water runs clear.
  4. Lay your sponge out on a dry towel and allow it to dry in a well-ventilated area. Don’t leave it in a closed space because mildew can grow.

Even if your sponge’s label states it is antimicrobial, it must be cleaned. Antimicrobial sponges still retain bacteria. It is just less of a hospitable environment for the bacteria.

Beauty experts recommend washing your sponge once per week to maintain a clean sponge and happy skin.

Cleanse Your Face Twice Per Day

You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t go to bed before washing your face. It is crucial to wash away makeup, dirt, oil, and pollutants each evening. These substances can clog your pores, causing breakouts, blackheads, and fine lines.

Double cleansing is best if you wear makeup to ensure that your makeup washes out of your pores. For a basic cleanse if you do not wear makeup, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends cleansing in the following way:

  1. Wet your face thoroughly with lukewarm water, and use your fingertips to apply a gentle cleanser to your face.
  2. Don’t over scrub your skin, as this may lead to irritation.
  3. Rinse with warm water and pat dry with a clean towel.
  4. Apply your favorite moisturizer.
  5. Cleanse your face two times per day, once in the morning and the evening. After sweating, cleansing your face is also necessary to ensure your skin remains clean and free from pore-clogging debris.

For those of you makeup lovers, a daily double cleanse is best.

  1. Wet your face with warm water and use your fingertips to apply a gentle cleansing oil such as Three Ships Beauty Nourish Lavender + MCT Cleansing Oil.
  2. Massage gently to remove dirt, oil, and debris.
  3. Rinse thoroughly with warm water.
  4. Apply a second gentle facial cleanser, such as Three Ships Beauty Purify Aloe + Amino Acid Gel Cleanser, with your fingertips and massage gently. The second cleanse soothes and replenishes your skin’s moisture barrier.
  5. Rinse your face thoroughly with warm water and pat dry with a clean towel.

Maintaining clean skin will help prevent clogged pores and future breakouts from occurring.

Avoid Wearing Makeup While Sweating/ Working Out

Yes, we all want to look our absolute best at all times, but steer clear of wearing makeup to the gym. When mixed with natural oils in your skin, makeup and sweat create the perfect environment for clogged pores and bacterial growth.

Keep it clean by cleansing your face before and after your workouts.

Evaluate Your Grooming Products

In addition to makeup, often shampoo, conditioner, hair styling products, skin moisturizers, or even toners may cause acne. Always read the product labels to know what is in the products you use because ingredients can make or break your complexion.

Go Bare

Give your skin a break by skipping makeup a few times per week. Not wearing makeup allows your skin to breathe. If you can’t bear to go bare, try cleansing your skin when you get home in the evening. Allow your skin to be makeup-free throughout the night instead.

Can You Wear Makeup If You Already Have Acne?

Yes, you can wear makeup if you have acne. Again, the key here is to choose your makeup wisely. Select makeup with gentle formulas that do not clog pores. Some cosmetics can cause acne, and this condition is called acne cosmetica. People who do not usually get breakouts can develop acne cosmetica from makeup.

What Is Acne Cosmetica?

Acne cosmetica is a condition caused by makeup that results in acne. It causes tiny bumps and whiteheads on the cheeks, forehead, and chin. Acne cosmetica may take a few days to a few months to appear.

This range in time may make it difficult to realize the connection between your acne and the makeup you’re using. You may find yourself covering up blemishes with the same makeup that is causing them, creating a vicious cycle that is very frustrating.

So, what should you do if your acne isn’t resulting from the makeup you are using?

How Can You Soothe Non-Makeup Induced Acne?

Acne cosmetica often disappears once you stop using the makeup products that cause these breakouts. Dermatologists often encourage acne treatment if its cause is associated with something else.

Three Ships Beauty offers gentle, yet effective skincare for acne-prone skin, and it is naturally effective, pure, and plant-based. No hidden ingredients or chemicals, just skincare formulas you can trust.

Use The Less Is More Approach

When it comes to your skincare and makeup, the less is more approach is usually the best. The fewer ingredients a cosmetic or skincare product has, the less difficult it will be to decipher whether the skincare product is suitable for your skin type.

Three Ships Beauty believes that less is more, and we back that up with our purpose-driven, 100% plant-based skincare. Our skincare products are clinically proven to provide you with the skin-loving quality you deserve.

Bottom Line

We at Three Ships Beauty want to help you see skincare clearly by clarifying the complicated. Our formulas are transparent, providing you with a full view of everything we place inside each bottle.

Nix redness and soothe blemished skin with our Nourish Lavender + MCT Cleansing Oil.. Simply apply a small amount to a cotton pad and wipe your makeup away. This formula melts makeup, dirt, and oil, leaving your skin soft, supple, and makeup-free.

Follow this cleanse with the Refresh Papaya + Salicylic Acid Cleanser to finalize the cleanse and unclog pores. Pamper your skin with 100% natural, sustainably sourced, and cruelty-free skincare you can trust.

Practicing good skincare habits, maintaining a regular cleaning routine, and sticking to non-comedogenic skincare products ensure you nix acne before it starts. Wearing makeup alone won’t cause acne, but the tips above will help create a good foundation for clearer skin.

You don’t have to break up with your makeup.


Ask a Dermatologist: How to Read Skincare Ingredient Labels | Byrdie

Why You Need to Use Non Comedogenic | Very Well Health Skin Care Products

Acne mechanica | PubMed

How to clean your makeup brushes | American Academy of Dermatology

Face washing 101 | AAD

I have acne! Is it okay to wear makeup? | American Academy of Dermatology

Purify Aloe + Amino Acid Gel Cleanser

Hydrates Skin


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Nourish Lavender + MCT Cleansing Oil

Hydrates Skin


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