Do you breakout ’cause of make-up?


Sometimes, I wonder if the make-up products I’m using are the ones causing my acne breakout once in a while, aside from the monthly surge of hormones or stress from hospital work. My curiosity made me take a look at the products I use on my face and research if these are comedogenic (read: acne-causing, scroll down to learn more). I always thought that once a product is labelled as “non-comedogenic,” there is a guarantee that it wouldn’t be a culprit of acne eruption.

As it turns out, I was wrong.


Here are some of the products I use whenever I need to look made up.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

Comedones are simply known to us as whiteheads and blackheads, which are the result of clogging of pores. These are tiny “bombs” that would eventually transform into acne. Hence, once a product is labeled “non-comedogenic,” it would seem like the neatly packaged facial cream or foundation would cause no “harm” (read: pimple eruption). But then, I learned that it doesn’t always hold true, given that this label is not actually regulated. There isn’t a universal standard on how a product could pass a comedogenicity test. Also, one ingredient may cause pore clogging in one person but not in another.

Meanwhile, there are studies that showed how certain substances caused comedone eruption on rats’ ears. Listed below (in alphabetical order) are the chemicals that tested positive for comedogenicity (from studies I had access to). You may want to check the ingredient list of the products you are using (instead of just trusting their claims of non-comedogenicity right away). Check their boxes, or the internet if you’ve already thrown them out.

  • butyl stearate
  • cocoa butter
  • decyl oleate
  • isocetyl stearate
  • isopropyl isostearate
  • isopropyl myristate
  • isopropyl palmitate
  • isostearyl neopentanoate
  • lanolin*
  • myristyl myristate
  • octyl palmitate
  • octyl stearate
  • sodium lauryl sulfate
  • squalene monohydroperoxide

*This is usually found in blushers, i.e. xanthene, monoazoanilinines, fluorans, and indigoids.

**You may want to take a screencap of the list using your smartphone and use it when buying cosmetic products at the mall.

After checking the ingredients of the cosmetic products I use, I came to the conclusion that I have been using products that are likely non-comedogenic. Again, I put the blame on the monthly surge of hormones for my acne breakouts. But then, what works for me may not work for you (and vice versa), so the products I’ve posted here may not be suited for everyone.

One study actually remarked that the problem of acne caused by comedogenic ingredients in cosmetics today is almost negligible. This is why I really look up to people doing research; they make the world a better place (read: pimple-free, hehe).


I would say this sunscreen I’ve been using daily for almost a year is non-comedogenic. Click here for the list of ingredients.

Meanwhile, the following chemicals may contribute to a decrease in acne:

  • nicotinamide
  • lactic acid
  • triethyl acetate
  • triethyl ethyllineolate
  • prebiotic plant extracts (more details here)

I have been using this moisturizer twice daily. Despite having lanolin alcohol (on the list aof comedogenic chemicals above), it has prebiotic extracts (barley and cucumber). They may have been balancing the effects of each other since I don’t think my occasional breakout would have been caused by this. Nonetheless, I really love this moisturizer.

Aside from choosing the right products, there are two more things we should do.

  1. Always remove make-up before going to sleep.
  2. Regularly clean make-up brushes and sponges to avoid growth of acne-causing bacteria that would later on invade our pores.

Here’s a confession, I can’t remember the last time I cleaned my brushes either. Ooops. So, goodbye for now as I have to look for hydrogen peroxide to clean my brushes.



  1. Chiba, K., Yoshizawa, K., Makino, I., Kawakami, K., & Onoue, M. (2000). Comedogenicity of squalene monohydroperoxide in the skin after topical application [Abstract]. The Journal of Toxicological Sciences, 25(2), 77-83. Retrieved March, 2016, from
  2. Fulton, J., Jr., Bradley, S., Aqundez, A., & Black, T. (1976). Non-comedogenic cosmetics [Abstract]. Cutis, 17(2), 349-351. Retrieved March, 2016, from
  3. Fulton, J., Jr., Pay, S. R., & Fulton, J., 3rd. (1984). Comedogenicity of current therapeutic products, cosmetics, and ingredients in the rabbit ear [Abstract]. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 10(1), 96-105. Retrieved March, 2016, from
  4. Korting, H. C., Borelli, C., & Schollmann, C. (2010). Acne vulgaris. Role of cosmetics [Abstract]. Der Hautarzt Zeitschrift Für Dermatologie,61(2), 126-131. Retrieved March, 2016, from
  5. Nguyen, S. H., Dang, T. P., & Maibach, H. I. (2007). Comedogenicity in rabbit: Some cosmetic ingredients/vehicles. Cutaneous and Ocular Toxicology, 26(4), 287-292. Retrieved March, 2016, from


One thought on “Do you breakout ’cause of make-up?

  1. Pingback: My morning skin care regimen plus the moisturizers and sunscreens that I love | In Full Bloom

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