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Yes, you can wear makeup, but you’ll want to choose it carefully. Some cosmetics can cause acne. When this happens, you develop a type of acne called acne cosmetica. Even women who would not otherwise have acne can develop acne cosmetica from wearing makeup.
If you have acne cosmetica, you’ll likely have many tiny bumps on your face. These bumps usually appear on the cheeks, chin, or forehead. Many women develop whiteheads that rise above their skin slightly. You may also notice some pimples.
If you have tiny breakouts around your lips, your lipstick or lip balm could be the culprit.
Acne cosmetica can take time to appear. It can take anywhere from a few days to 6 months for blemishes to appear.
This delay can make it difficult to see a connection between acne and the makeup causing it. As you see new blemishes, you may treat the acne and then cover it with acne-causing makeup. Continuing to use the makeup leads to a never-ending cycle of breakouts.
This never-ending cycle can feel frustrating. Many women start to believe that nothing will clear their acne.
Even when makeup causes your acne, you can still wear makeup and see clearer skin. You’ll have to use different makeup though.
Here’s what dermatologists recommend to see clearer skin:
The best strategy is look at all of your makeup, hair care products, and skin care products. Yes, some hair and skin care products can also cause acne cosmetica.
You only want to use makeup and hair and skin care products that include one of the following terms on its packaging:
You can buy these acne treatments without a prescription.
It can take 4 to 8 weeks to see some improvement.
Acne cosmetica tends to clear once you stop using what’s causing it. Finding the cause, however, can be difficult. So many products can lead to acne cosmetica, including foundation, blush, and concealer. Some hair and skin care products can also cause it.
To complicate matters, more than acne cosmetica could be causing your acne.
A dermatologist can help you sort it out, so you can see clearer skin.
Images: Getty Images
Baumann L. “Cosmetics and skin care in dermatology.” In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, et al. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine (seventh edition). McGraw Hill Medical, New York, 2008:2360.
Fulton JE, Acne Rx: What acne really is and how to eliminate its devastating effects! Self-published; 2001.
Harper JC. “Acne: The basics.” Paper written by dermatologist Julie C. Harper, MD to help her patients get the best results from their acne treatment. May 2003.
Singh S, Mann BK, et al. “Acne cosmetica revisited: a case-control study shows a dose-dependent inverse association between overall cosmetic use and post-adolescent acne.” Dermatology. 2013;226(4):337-41.