Can Skincare Products Cause Acne And Breakouts?

person using skincare products
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

A question popping up often in the skincare world is whether or not certain products can cause or worsen acne and breakouts. The short answer is yes, certain products can indeed lead to breakouts and clogged pores, here’s why;

Using Comedogenic Serums and Creams Can Cause Acne

A comedogenic product is one with the potential to cause blackheads and breakouts by clogging the pores. While there are many products that are non-comedogenic, there’s an abundance of products that are comedogenic. It’s hard to know exactly which product does or doesn’t have pore blocking potential, especially when there’s an extensive ingredient list.

Common pore blocking culprits include oils such as coconut oil and flax seed oil, as well as cocoa/coconut butter and certain fatty alcohols. To find out which ingredients have pore blocking potential, check out this comedogenic rating table.

Those with oilier skin are more prone to breaking out by using a comedogenic product. Thicker/richer creams are to be avoided at all costs if you suffer from oily skin; try to use lightweight moisturisers and serums instead. Makeup might also be the culprit, makeup coupled with dense lotions are a recipe for disaster.

Using new skincare products can sometimes result in acne, a process known as ‘Purging’

Implementing chemical exfoliants or acids fresh into your skincare regime has the potential to cause breakouts. By using these ingredients you’re promoting cell turnover; they work deep into the pores to clear blockages and regulate sebum production. This has the potential to trigger the body’s natural inflammatory response; a method through which these contaminants and dirt are expelled through the skin. Ingredients that can trigger a purge include but aren’t limited to:

  • AHAs/BHAs (Alpha/Beta-hydroxy acids)
  • Retinoids (Retinol, retinoic acid)
  • Vitamin C and other foodstuff derived acids
  • Other exfoliants, including scrubs and enzymes

It is not uncommon for these products to cause some irritation when first used, and it can take a while for the skin to clear up. If you experience increased acne immediately after implementing these exfoliants into your skincare regime try not to worry. If however a few weeks past and there’s no sign of the acne/breakouts fading, immediately discontinue use of the product. Best to seek professional dermatologist advice if your skin doesn’t clear up soon after.

Using the wrong products for your skin-type can result in breakouts and blackheads

Establishing an effective skincare regime is absolutely essential to achieve good results. We’ve written an article on how to build the perfect skincare routine for each individual skin-type.

Your skincare routine is defined by both the products you use and the steps you take. For example, those with oily/acne prone skin will require more attention on the serum and moisturiser step than those with normal skin. By not following the correct procedure for your skin type, you could be causing spots and blackheads to appear, as well as doing unwanted damage to your complexion.

Using a soap-based cleanser if you have dry or even oily skin can promote breakouts. Soap strips the skin of natural oils it needs to stay hydrated and protected, this can lead to overproduction of sebum (a natural waxy secretion which hydrates the skin.) It’s this overproduction of sebum that will lead to oiliness and therefore clogged pores.

To sum it up

Yes, using certain skincare products can indeed cause acne and breakouts. This is generally the case when you use skincare products that aren’t tailored for your skin, best to do your research prior to purchase and always read the label before use. Implementing a brand new product in your routine can lead to skin purging, you have to ride the wave until your skin clears. Using the incorrect skincare regime for your skin can also clog your pores; it’s best practise to establish a routine that’s tailored for you. Often we find that people use products suggested to them by friends or family without reading the label or doing the research, don’t.

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