Avoid Cosmetic Cornstarch If You’re Acne-Prone

Categories: Acne, Makeup
Leave A Comment: Comments(14)

cornstarch acneAs if my list of cosmetic ingredients to avoid to prevent cosmetic acne wasn’t long enough already, I have a few more ingredients to add to the list – cornstarch (also called Zea Mays or corn starch) and rice starch. According to Paula Begoun (CosmeticsCop.com), some food-derived cosmetic ingredients should be avoid if you are prone to acne. Currently the only ingredients I know to avoid are corn starch and rice starch, but if I come up with others, I will add them to this post. If you are not prone to acne, then there’s no need to worry about these ingredients.

Paula Begoun says cornstarch is a “Starch obtained from corn and sometimes used as an absorbent in cosmetics instead of talc. However, when cornstarch becomes moist, it can promote fungal and bacterial growth.” About rice starch, she says it’s an “Absorbent substance sometimes included in products rather than talc. It can cause allergic reactions and, because it is a food derivative (as opposed to a mineral derivative like talc), it can support bacterial growth in pores.” 

L’Oreal True Match Powder
Originally this post was going to be about this foundation, and how I really like it, and how it hasn’t caused me any breakouts. All of that is true, however its second ingredient after talc is corn starch. To be on the safe side, I wouldn’t recommend using a cosmetic with corn starch as one of its main ingredients if you are acne prone. Personally I will probably still buy this product because it goes on smoothly, has a nice finish to it, it comes in a lot of shades, and I have not had an issue with it. I never would have bought it if I remembered at the time to avoid cornstarch, so it’s only by accident that I’m using it.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Pressed Powder
This is the pressed powder I usually use, and I think it is totally safe if you are prone to acne. It only comes in three light shades, so the color choice is pretty limiting. I started using the L’Oreal True Match, because now that summer is here, I wanted a slightly darker shade to go better with my fake tan. Currently, the Neutrogena Healthy Skin Pressed Powder is the only powder I’ve tested that looks good, and that does not have aggravating acne ingredients!

3/19/2010 update: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Pressed Powder has been reformulated, and I haven’t tested it yet to see if it’s still safe for acne. It now contains 3% titanium dioxide, which gives it an SPF 20, and it comes in 4 shades. I hope they didn’t change anything else about it:(

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14 Responses to “Avoid Cosmetic Cornstarch If You’re Acne-Prone”

  1. SageRave Says:

    Now that is scary! The first two ingredients in the L’Oreal True Match powder are cornstarch and talc?

  2. Julie Says:

    Hi Savvy Skin. I was just wondering, what drugstore facial care products would you recommend for acne prone skin that doesn’t contain any acne-causing ingredients?

  3. min Says:

    wow, i never knew that. I know acne prone shouldnt use oil based cosmetic. that is kind of scary.

  4. Crystal - Beauty or Bust Says:

    Yuck. I find that my acne-prone skin can only tolerate mineral foundation. I’m really loving Maybelline’s Mineral Power foundations – both in liquid and powder form. Love the blog!

  5. amelia Says:

    Hi Savvy Skin! I’m so glad I found your website :) I keep having these breakouts on my chin and around my nose even though the rest of my face is pimple free..I suspect highly that it is due to the makeup I use.I want to get the Neutrogena pressed powder but I have to buy it online as my country does not sell it at all :( I was wondering if you could help me out… I use Loreal true match pressed powder too in W4, natural beige. Do you by any chance know what Neutrogena shade (fair/light/medium) that corresponds too? thanks!!!

  6. mimi Says:

    i just found this site today and find the acne causing ingredient info very helpful. I have read on a few other sites about corn starch possibly promoting bacteria growth, but pointing out that it is bad when found in a liquid instead of a powder product, or in a product meant for application in moist areas (not your face). I’d still be worried about powers gaining moisture from the environment in its case, or my face throughout the day. Although, the main alternative seems to be Talc, which also has concerns not for comedogenic reasons, but health concerns, such as links to cancer. From the American Cancer Websites article, it seems that inhalation is a concern (loose powders) but in very extreme amounts. I am not very concerned with it, but I don’t know if it would be possible to find a powder product with neither ingredient.

  7. carmen Says:

    I’m confused. I thought Talc was also something that shouldn’t be in the powder, but the Neutrogena powder that you’re talking about has Talc as an ingredient. Can you comment on that?

  8. Jo Ann Says:

    Talc is a known carcinogen and corn starch is a great substitute. I’d like to see the studies showing corn starch promotes or aggravates acne.
    Bare Escentuals makes Bare Minerals foundation that is great for acne prone skin and now they have a NEW Matte foundation that is even better than the original (especially if you have oily or acne prone skin). They also sell a wonderful product in their RARE skincare line called BLEMISH THERAPY. Unlike acne meds with chemicals that burn and peel and dry out, it gently helps acne and blackheads disappear and reduce redness. If you use their cleanser (a powder form with oatmeal and rice bran) along with their preservative free (all products) moisturizer, it will help to PH balance your skin and clear it up.

  9. Katherine@SterlingMinerals Says:

    Hell Savvy,

    Though Paula Begoun is one of the leaders in consumer protection for cosmetics, it should be noted that she also carries her own line of products. I have watched her over the past 20 years and many of her initial reports have changed in regard to certain ingredients and this is obviously due in part to her beginning her own cosmetic line.

    Unfortunately since these two ingredients are not included in her line it is easy to make comments that are actually without fact. Researchers and Scientists including Medical practitioners know the actual cause of acne and if Paula was not intent on lambasting and ingredient to meet her agenda she would know that acne is not supported by an outside source of anything applied to the skin…Corn Starch has the capability of being occlusive to pores when it becomes damp or moist and left wet as in a jar, then yes it will grow mold or bacteria. But this is more likely to cause acne due to occlusion not a bacteria

    Rice Powder also when applied wet or moist is actually used in poultices for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for healing and soothing bleeding pimples and skin ulcerations. It is not a food source for acne. Sebum in the blocked pore is what propionibacterium acnes thrives on and is its’ only food source, not any ingredient you apply to the face.

    It is also not a potential allergen, in fact, Rice powder is one of the leading starches Doctors recommend for those with grain allergies can eat as a substitute including rice milk and for those who must have a Gluten Free Diet. This is one of the most viable resources for those who cannot wear conventional makeup and is the reason it is one of our main ingredients in our mineral makeup and why it is also the only makeup our customers can wear after trying many.

  10. Linda Says:

    I just got some of Paula’s acne fighting treatment and I started breaking out worse. Just FYI these products contain several of the ingredients from your list of ingredients to avoid with high numbers. I do appreciate your advice on what make-up and cleanser to use. This has helped me tremendously. Thanks!

  11. Gina Says:

    I am allergic to corn starch and always have to look at ingredients. Its in most mineral makeups and is used as a filler to take up space cause it absorbs water. You have to pay more for the better stuff but its worth it. My questions is what is a good foundation for dry skin. I’m in my 40’s and have some acne on my forehead. I am going to start using a retinoid at night, but what about the makeup. Everything out there is so drying. And what about lotions that i can wear in day with spf but wont make me break out? So no cornstarch etc, nor drying makeups. any suggestions?

  12. Cindy Says:

    I’ve used Cornsilk Powder for years, and recently started using Mattify Loose Powder – those both have cornstarch, but have not caused me any problems. My skin is VERY acnegenic, but when I use the Mattify Powder underneath my liquid foundation, I get hardly any breakouts at all. On the days I forget to use the Mattify underneath, I almost always get broken out a couple days later. It seems to protect my skin, rather than break it out. Maybe it just depends on personal sensitivity I guess. But, I am wondering if Rice Powder is the same as Rice Starch? Rice Powder is an ingredient in another Mattify product I want to try that is supposed to absorb even more oil, but now that I’m reading Rice Starch can cause breakouts – I’m curious to see if Rice Powder is the same thing? If I’m not allergic to cornstarch, the Rice Starch or Powder will probably be fine, but am curious if the Powder and Starch are the same.

  13. kris Says:

    can you please reccomend me a good concealer to cover up blemishes , that has wont cause acne?
    i want to get the pixi illuminating tint and conceal concealer but it has sodium chloride and pottasium chloride which i heard isnt good for acne prone skin:[

  14. Elizabeth Says:

    I love Paula Begeoun, but I don’t fully know where she’s getting this cornstarch, rice starch stuff from. When I was in esthetician school, our textbooks recommended corn starch on a few occasions, and after I researched my own acne, I read a lot about the benefits of rice powder. After reading an article on the Dermadoctor website, I ordered the T. Leclerc blushes and my acne vanished in days. I think it makes sense to be extra cautious about exposing these ingredients to moisture and complying by expiration dates, but I don’t see how there’s this instant bacterial growth going on. I searched through PubMed for hours one night and couldn’t pull up a single journal on the subject. Do you know of any sources that explain this? I can only find info that quotes Paula Begeoun.

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