How To Prevent Cosmetic Acne

Categories: Acne, Beauty Products, Paula Begoun, Skin care
Leave A Comment: Comments(94)

cosmetic acneOil-free, non-comedogenic, and Dermatologist-tested are all phrases I used to look for when I’d buy products to help with my acne. By reading The Beauty Bible – Paula Begoun, and through my own personal experiences, I’ve learned that these terms are meaningless. The beauty industry does not seem to have standards when it comes to labeling products, so I no longer care what the product says it will do – I look at the ingredients. When I was going through my really bad acne, I found out part of my problem was that the cosmetics and products I was using were actually contributing to my acne, not helping it. They were giving me Cosmetic Acne. It was after I learned what ingredients to avoid that I greatly helped to get rid of my acne.

I found several sites that listed ingredients that could clog your pores or irritate your skin. I cross-referenced the ingredients to the products I was currently using and found almost every single one of them had either extremely pore-clogging (comedogenic) ingredients, or irritating ingredients. Even “acne” products had both irritating ingredients, and pore-cloggers, thus making my skin extra dry, and extra breakout-prone. From my estimate, 75% of the products on the market could potentially clog my pores. Now some people can use any product they want and they won’t have problems, but I can’t, and neither can anyone that is prone to acne. Here are the fabulous websites I found, from which I compiled a spreadsheet of ingredients to avoid:  Zero Zits – become an acne detective, Comedogenic effects of cosmetic raw materials, DERMADoctor – Comedogenicity, Skin care ingredients to avoid, and there was one other site I referenced that is now gone. After checking out all my products for their ingredients, I threw them all out, except for maybe one or two, and I started over. Some of the sites contradict themselves a little bit, and not every bad ingredient out there is on the list, but below is the list I compiled. Here is how to read it: An ingredient is based on a scale of 0 (meaning it won’t clog your pores at all) to 5 (meaning it will clog your pores a lot). Anything that is a 3, 4, or 5 is an ingredient to avoid, if it’s listed as one of the first 8 or so ingredients in a product. I have listed a few ingredients that will not clog your pores, however their names are similar to ingredients that will, so they are just there for reference. When I first went over the Zero Zits list, I tried not to buy any products that were even listed with a 2 for comedogenicity, but it was nearly impossible to find anything that met that criteria. If there is a second number listed by an ingredient, that is the number for how much the ingredient will irritate your skin. 0 (meaning not irritating at all) and 5 (extremely irritating). Again, avoid all ingredients listed 3, 4, or 5 for irritation.

Skin care ingredients to avoid if you have acne-prone skin:

0…5 Acetone
4 Acetylated Lanolin
4 Acetylated Lanolin Alcohol
0…5 Alcohol
0…5 Alcohol Denat.
5 Algae Extract
4 Algin
3 Butyl Stearate
2…3 Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
2…4 Cajeput Oil
1…3 Caprylic Acid
5 Carrageenan
4 Ceteareth 20
4 Cetearyl Alcohol + Ceteareth 20
4 Cetyl Acetate
4 Cocoa Butter
4 Coconut Butter
4 Coconut Oil
3…4 Colloidal Sulfur
3 Cotton Awws Oil
3 Cotton Seed Oil
3 Crisco
3 D & C Red # 17
3 D & C Red # 21
3 D & C Red # 3
3 D & C Red # 30
3 D & C Red # 36
4 Decaglyceryl decaoleate
3 Decyl Oleate
3 Dioctyl Succinate
4 Disodium Monooleamido PEG 2-Sulfo
0…4 Ethanol
3 Ethoxylated Lanolin
0…4 Ethyl Alcohol
4 Ethylhexyl Palmitate
0…3 Flowers of Sulfur
2 Glyceryl Stearate
3 Glyceryl Stearate SE (NSE ok)
4 Glyceryl-3-Diisostearate
4 Grape seed oil
5 Hexadecyl Alcohol
3 Hexylene glycol
3 Hybrid safflower oil
4 Hydrogenated lanolin
3 Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
4 Isocetyl Alcohol
5 Isocetyl Stearate
4 Isodecyl Oleate
3 Isoparaffin C13-16
3 Isoparaffin C9-11
0…4 Isopropyl Alcohol
5 Isopropyl Isostearate
4 Isopropyl lanolate 
5 Isopropyl Linolate
5 Isopropyl Myristate
4 Isopropyl Palmitate
4 Isostearic acid
3 Isostearyl alcohol 
4 Isostearyl Isostearate
3 Isostearyl Neopentanoate
3 Laneth-10 acetate
5 Lanolic acid 
2 Lanolin
2 Lanolin Alcohols
1 Lanolin Oil or Wax
3 Laureth -23
5 Laureth 4
4 Lauric Acid
0…4 Menthol
0…4 Methanol
3 Mink Oil
5 Myreth 3 myristate
3 Myristic Acid
4 Myristyl Lactate
5 Myristyl Myristate
5 Myristyl propionate
3 Octyl dodecanol 
4 Octyl Palmitate
5 Octyl Stearate
5 Oleic Acid
5 Oleth-3
4 Oleyl Alcohol
4 Peach kernel oil 
4 PEG 16 Lanolin
3 PEG 200 Dilaurate
3 PEG 8 Stearate
3 PG Monostearate
4 Polyglyceryl-3-Diisostearate
5 Potassium Chloride
4 PPG 15 stearyl ether
4 PPG 2 Myristyl Propionate
4 PPG 5 Ceteth 19 Phosphate
4 Propylene Glycol Monostearate
2 Propylene glycol stearate
0 Propylene glycol 
5 Red Algae
0…5 SD Alcohol 40
3 Shark Liver Oil
0…4 Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
5 Sodium Chloride (Salt)
3 Sodium Laureth Sulfate
5 Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
4 Solulan 16
3 Sorbitan Oleate
4 Sorbitan Sesquinoleate
3 Soybean Oil
4 Steareth 10
2 Stearic acid
3 Stearic Acid Tea
4 Stearyl Heptanoate
3 Sulfated Castor Oil
3 Sulfated Jojoba Oil
3 Sweet Almond Oil
4 Syearyl Heptanoate
0…3 Tridectyl Neopentanoate
3 Wheat Germ Glyceride
5 Wheat Germ Oil
4 Xylene

 I know it’s a long list, but I printed it out, and would actually carry it around to the store with me. I’d also try to find the list of ingredients in a product I was interested in before I’d even go to the store to save time. Notice anything missing from the list? How about Mineral Oil. That ranks a 0 for being pore-clogging. Now there is all sorts of controversy about Mineral Oil, but I am not afraid to use it on my skin. On the list, you will find Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Those are usually the main ingredients in shampoo, and I know some people use shampoo to wash their face. SD Alcohol 40, also known as Alcohol or Alcohol Denat, is a huge irritant, but it’s in most toners, and a lot of acne products. Isoproply Palmitate and Isopropyl Myristate are the main ingredients in a lot of moisturizers, and they are also huge pore-cloggers. There is a website that freaks me out because it claims that just about every ingredient in skin care products will give you cancer or cause some sort of horrible toxic reaction in your body: Environmental Working Group . At this point, I’m more worried about the harm from pollution, global warming, and second-hand smoke than I am about all the ingredients in products, but I should look more into what the EWG has to say.

 Despite this list, I’ve still bought products I thought were “safe” that totally made my face breakout – La Roche-Posay Anthelios W Gel SPF 40 comes to mind. I have to assume it’s the actual sunscreen ingredient – Mexoryl XL – that causes the problem, but I don’t know for sure, which is why I didn’t put Mexoryl XL on the list. Finally, before I buy a product, I read reviews about it on MakeupAlley.com to see if a ton of people say something has made them breakout. I take reviews with a grain of salt, since every product listed will have at least one person say it gave them cystic acne. Overall, the great thing about this “list” is that it’s saved me a lot of skin problems and money in the long run since I don’t really have acne anymore, I’m now happy with most of the products I use, and most new wrinkle creams have pore-clogging ingredients, so there are few new products I even want to try.

Don’t miss out…get Savvy Skin posts via email!
Bookmark and Share


94 Responses to “How To Prevent Cosmetic Acne”

  1. Sharpay Says:

    Can Lorac be bought in Australia? What is a good coverage concealer, and pressed and loose powder available in Australia, that is not pore-clogging? Preferably ones that don’t contain mineral oil – it may not clog pores, but it makes skin really oily – which could clog pores.

  2. Angel Says:

    Just to update Left Brain’s comment-they are not the CTFA anymore. They are the Personal Care Products Council and they are BEYOND helpful.

  3. Hayley Says:

    Hi, i have mild acne on my forehead, especially between my brows, white heads and a cyst. I just purchased nelsons pure and clear facial wash and toner. The ingredients of the facial are: Polysorbate 20, Disodium Laureth sulfosuccinate, cocadmidopropyl betaine, chondrus crispus extract, phenoxyethanol,arnica montana extract,benzyl alcohol,calendula officinalas extract,hypericum perforatum extract,xanthan gum,melaleuca alternifolia,lavandula angustifolia,limonene,citrus grandis,linalool,citrus aurantium amara oil. Are any of these dangerous?

  4. Crystal Says:

    Hi Jen,
    Wonderful site! This is the first time I have ever looked at my products and it has really helped. I used to not have any skin problems at all until 25, until I moved to Alaska from the South and year and half ago. Its been difficult to pinpoint…b/c I have moved to a new climate and due to plane/airport regulations I got rid of all my usual products and opted for the “fun” in trying new products – trying moisturizers for the first time due to cold climate. For the last year and half, I’ve been experiencing breakouts on my cheeks (like a rash type, with bump patches) and on my forehead. I started thinking all of a sudden I was getting acne, and started getting into the acne creams. Nothing has cleared drastically, instead they get lighter then “flare up.” So, I’m a bit stuck. I thought I’d give you a background of info first then give you a list of the new products i’m using for your advice. Note: I have medium to olive skin, and for the most of my life has been normal. I never seemed to need moisturizer until two years ago, which I feel resulted from changing climates. I’m not 27.

    Here are a list of the new make up items I used within the last year:

    1.) Bare Essentials Foundation, spf 15 in medium (first time using mineral make up and spf regularly on my face)

    2.) Bobbi Brown tinted moisturizer, spf 15 (first time again, with spf on my face)

    Acne treatments:
    1.) Neurtrogena on-the-spot (most of the products looked safe, until I got to Polysorbate 20 where one site said it was from coconut oil – which is a pore clogger- whats ur opinion? – I didn’t see it on the list)
    2.) Clean and Clear -salic acid 2% (I couldn’t find all the ingredients on the list, but I did find SD40 which says its bad — are there acids that don’t have sd40?)

    I have always used Clean and Clear sensitive skin foaming wash, b/c it seemed mild but now discover it is bad for the sodium laureth sulfate. Any change that it could not bother me? I have switched to the Neutrogena Ben Perozide duo cleaner and mask, whats your opinion of that cleanser?

    I’m apologize for the length of this email, but I seem to be on a role! As you can tell, I’m in quite a pickle! On top of it all…I’m hesitate to change everything, cuz my skin will freak out on me…which could be how it all started.

    Write now, what I have salvaged from my current regime is the Neurtrogena Cleanser and Mask, and 100% tea tree oil. I’m on the look out for a new foundation, powder, moisturizer, and either ben per treatment or salic acid. Is it over kill to use both at the same time?

    Thanks your help!

  5. littledeb Says:

    Hi! Quick question. If one or some of the ingredients of this list you have here appear further down the list of ingredients of a cream or on makeup would it be considered safe for acne prone skin? Or should I still avoid it? Thanks!

  6. ShanShan Says:

    Thank you so much for the info. This really helps because I have been suffering from acne for a while but I feel that when I use certain products my acne becomes worse and now I know why. But here is something I found to be really interesting…for a while I was using Tretinoin Creams (.05% and .1%) that was prescribed to me by a dermatologist but it made my acne worse and I felt like it didn”t make it better with continued use. I still had it in case I ever wanted to try it again until I just read the ingredients. The third ingredient is Isopropyl Myristate which is a big pore-clogger on your list. The Tretinoin Cream was given as a generic for Retin A . I hope this helps others that were using Tretinoin Cream and still had acne. Once again, thank you so much for the list Jeni.

  7. Sky Says:

    Hi Jenni,

    What about Almay Clear Complexion Liquid makeup foundation? Will that cause acne? I found in the ingredients that it contains Sodium Chloride & Sorbitan Sesquioleate but both are after the 8th ingredients on the list??
    I’m thinking of trying Maybelline Pure Makeup but it contains “C13 14 Isoparaffin”. Is that bad??

  8. lucy Says:

    I am wondering if anyone can let me know if the Bare Escentuals line from Sephora would be causing my acne. I didn’t find all the minerals or most of them listed. I like the coverage of this mineral makeup but I feel it may be causing my clogged pores. Any information would be helpful.

  9. amy roberts Says:

    THIS WEB PAGE IS BRILL !!! Can you advise a safe moisturiser for oily skin. Also does anyone know whether Dermaloica products are good and safe to use. Im getting a bit confused reading the ingrediants list xx

  10. AJ Says:

    This looks like a great resource but I was wondering about dimethicone and cyclomethicone. I am noticing these in most foundations I look at. I didn’t see them on the list, did I just miss them??

  11. Loci Says:

    This is wonderful and I couldn’t have said it better myself. I have used these lists for YEARS now and I couldn’t agree with you more. Almost everything out there that says “non comodogenic” or “non acnegenic” has contained at least 3-4 ingredients that will clog your pores and cause breakouts. I personally steer clear of all these products and try and stick to mineral makeup. Simple ingredients, won’t clog pores and has done wonders for my skin. I think women especially try to over do it with too many products. I found simplicity to be the best thing.

  12. Debra Says:

    Thank you!, Thank you! Thank you! for your extensive research. I was doing my own research, and I stumbled onto your website. My daughter has acne. I have never suffered from acne and have been feeling so helpless to my daughter. We have tried numerous products. I will carry your list with me. Do you know anything about the product Sensaria? I compared the ingredients on particular items to your list and they seem to be completely free of your listed ingredients. Should someone with acne still use a Benzoyl? or is keeping away from the ingredients to avoid key?

  13. Leah Says:

    Great Site.
    I have a hyaluronic acid serum that contains Ceteareth-20 closer to the end of the ingredients list. The product does NOT contain cetearyl alcohol.
    In someones educated and personal opinion, do you think this formular would be very comedogenic?

  14. Linda Says:

    Well Debra,
    That depends on what Sensaria product you are using. I have a Sensaria body lotion that contains at least 5 of the listed ingredients.

  15. MJ Says:

    I love Victoria Principal products. While she does not offer all products I seek, she offers most products.

  16. Samantha Says:

    Hi. I am using La Roche Posay’s Gel and lotion Effaclar K, for my acne prone skin. I have used these to product for more than 5 months. But these to products doesnt seem to give solid results. Sometimes my skin looks quite good, but sometimes a lot pimples shows up in my face. Do you recomend me to continiue using these products? Are they safe to use on acne prone skin? beacuse i cant really find any other products to use, due to mye sensetive skin.

    I have heard alot about a lotion called Bee Yummy Skinfood. This cream is supposed to prevent acne. Have you tried it ore herd about it? Do you think I should change my lotion?

  17. Naomi Says:

    This is a brilliant website, thank you so much. I have been doing research about products that I could use that are free from the listed ingredients and so far have come up with some Decleor and Philosophy products but am now a little confused as my dermatologist suggested that I stay away from products that contain oil. Both the decleor products and the philosophy products are free from your listed ingredients but contain oils (Ylang-Ylang, Melaleuca, Wheat Germ are just a few). Are some oils safe and won’t clog pores or should I be staying away from all oils? Any ideas? Thanks.

  18. Jess Says:

    hey jen, Thanks so much for the post its really helpful. I have just bought the Almay smart shade smart balance foundation. I have just read the ingredents and im shocked to find that sodium choride is 11th or so ingredent on the list. It also contains alcohol denat. as well as fomes officinalis (mushroom) extract. Is it still okay to use this?

  19. Jennifer Says:

    At the beginning of the comments, there was some talk about cosmetic safety. Product safety shouldn’t have to be compromised for clear skin. However, some comments have said that some websites have caused fear and disbelief over ingredient safety. Instead, the Compact for Safe Cosmetics is an excellent source for brands deemed safe. The brands listed on this site follow European standards for manufacturing safe personal care products. The European Union has banned over 1,000 chemicals for use in personal care products while the United States has only banned a dozen at most. If these chemicals are absolutely banned in the European Union, it must be for good reason. Grace Naturals ( http://www.gracenaturals.com ) carries some of these brands. Good For You Girls looks pretty good as far as not containing ingredients that may clog pores. Some products contain 1 or 2 pore clogging ingredients, but they’re somewhat far down on the list. The Devita line of skin care seems to check out pretty good as far as cross referencing their ingredients with Jeni’s list. Hope this helps!

  20. courtney Says:

    what are the products that say 0….4 for example. Does that mean they are 0.4 or 0-4 or ? Thanks

  21. Lola Says:

    Hello my fellow beautiful women!
    I have been battling what was an intense on set of acne-that erupted out of nowhere & have attempted my face at A BILLION different remedies. I model & act & am on camera & was growing more & more depressed & scared. But I can say that I finally…after spending hundreds of dollars & inspired to even being a self proclaimed organic elixerist , would love to share my discoveries. I actually am so SO happy I found this site because my girlfriend has been urging me to start my own, given the fact I helped her clear adult acne that has been lingering for YEARS & was felt would never cease. She is a musician and constantly in smokey bars, and sweaty stages & buses & living on fast food when on the road (unfortunately rural America makes this the only thing avail)

    I found that so TRUE over the counter shampoos, conditioners, hair smoothers, styling products…SURE FIRE oil & cystic acne (but its sneaky, it takes about a week, & then you’re cleaning up a huge deep rooted mess) Also, SPF lotions drive my skin crazy. Even SPF chapsticks & lipsticks, I don’t wear them anymore. I stay very far away. I would notice small bumps around my lips, and given we ingest most of what is on our lips…its dangerous stuff. The best thing is to use a parasol (sun umbrella) or a hat. Definitely if you are in extreme sun, use on your body, but be very careful of your face. If you must, use one for YOUR FACE, on your face, And wash RIGHT AFTER sunning with a grease cutter like Grisi Sulfur Soap (read below)

    Internally being aware is so so so important. I can’t stress enough how much Evening Primrose Oil & Zinc (Whole Foods 25mg) won me over. Lack of Zinc in the body takes on form of inflammation & from a result actually is a know causer of acne. It takes about 30 days for your body to balance & start seeing the results, but they only get better!

    Then on to face wash. Hands down…MARIO BADESCU.
    -Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleanser under $13 and will last you a few months. It isn’t the heavy foaming you may be desiring, more a cleansing gel, but it is so gentle & SO gets to work. You’ll feel how clean when you start to rinse off. Enzymes=amazing.

    For terrible on-spot eruptions
    -Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion-$17 and will last you a few months. Shrinks size over night! DO NOT PUT ON OPEN FACIAL WOUNDS/SCARS

    Face moisturizer-THE ONLY ONE THAT WORKS
    -Malin+Goetz Vitamin E Face Moisturizer
    Something about this product is so gentle & easy to bring into any skin routine or skin type. I was really scared about the Vitamin E part (more oil? because pure Vitamin E oil on my skin causes a breakout) but absolutely no down side to this product-its been a saving grace! It is $45, but will last you a few months and I cannot stress it enough…


    Sulfur Soap (Grisi found at CVS or online-under $2) IT IS A MIRACLE WORKER. Use day & night if you are experiencing an extreme breakout. Just once a day for a week to clear up light irritation. You can guage how often…you’ll be able to tell. Very rarely do you need to use it on the regular in conjunction with everything, because it can be drying if you abuse it. But when you are experiencing a breakout or a new product that is leaving you oily, reach for it! AND DISCONTINUE OILY PRODUCT RIGHT AWAY. You must let it sit, foamed, on the skin for 5-20min. It will feel slimy as you wash off, but then its SQUEAKY clean! Its a natural antiseptic agent, this soap fights against acne, pimples, spots…leaving divine results! I ONLY stand behind the brand Grisi, it is the strongest, purest & the best. I’ve used others & they’ve been fragranced with extra ingredients. SEE RESULTS OVER NIGHT. I have this soap on me at all times.

    For scars: Works briliiantly
    FRESH SQUEEZED LEMON JUICE! …yep, thats all :) I squeeze into a little screw top container and apply twice a week morning & night, or need be after my period (i am very fair & dark spot lightly) or jobs that have me in oil based makeup. It burns a bit, but its a GOOOD burn. And natural exfoliant. I URGE YOU-DOOO NOT USE HARSH EXFOLIANTS (LIKE APRICOT SCRUBS OR THE LIKE)

    Lots of water & eat as fresh & as close to nature as possible.

    Get on this regimine & you WILL notice lasting results.

    I was so so desperate, I’ve searched & searched long & hard, & this is what worked for me.

    Even if it helps one of you, I’m touched throughout.

    Thank you for your time, Lola xx

  22. Stefanja Says:

    What a wonderful secret you have exposed to us all… I would have never known and never been able to get rid off my mild acne that has appeared (as I know from the products I was once using). I have taken your advice printed out the list and found some amazing products.

  23. Kit Says:

    I am so so, SO sad that algae extract scored a 5 in terms of comedogenicism (is that a word?)… because ALL my makeup is Jane Iredale. It seems most if not all their bases use algae extract as a main ingredient, and between everything I’ve been buying from them, that’s about $200+ worth of nearly untouched stuff I have to toss. First it was Bare Escentuals with their Bismuth oxychloride, and now JI with their Algae extract… I had suspected the cystic acne I’ve been getting was cosmetic in origin. Thank you so much for the informative post, since nothing else seems to come up when I search “Iredale” and “comedogenic.”

  24. Sandra Says:

    Hey i have acne too and i would love to find a good moisturizer for oily prone skin but the list is long with all those bad ingredients can someone recommend me one!!!please somebody???

  25. Ada Says:

    This list of ingredients have been very helpful! :) thanks.
    I have a question though. On a list of ingredients in cosmetics, if an ingredient is written last or near the end of the list, does that mean the product does not contain much of the ingredient?
    I have struggled with acne since I was 12 years old.
    I have been on 4 different medications (including Roaccutane, which is amongst the strongest) and have used heaps of different creams, face washes, gels etc.
    I am now 20 years old. And although my face has cleared up heaps, I still get break outs.
    I just recently purchased Almay Clear Complexion liquid make up and at the end of the list of ingredients it has Butylated Hydroxyanisole. I am worried now that this is going to make my skin worse! Please help!!!! :(

  26. samira Says:

    Hello, great website! I was just wondering if anyone could tell me what liquid foundation would be good for my dry skin. Everything i’ve tried seems to make my skin flake a little and i also get whiteheads. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  27. Robyn Says:

    hi i have a question…i have been using neutrogena oil-free acne wash with the grapefruit for a couple weeks now. i used to have absolutely amazing skin and all of the sudden a year ago, it went crazy and broke out everywhere. im wondering if its the make up im using or the cleanser or what. i tried bare minerals and thought it was amazing at first…and then it started to itch and tingle. and now i have little bumps all over my entire face…i don’t know if it’s from the cleanser or from the make-up or what. suggestions anyone?! what kind of make up and cleanser and face lotion should i use?!

  28. Lauren Says:

    This is a really great list. It’s amazing what types of ingredients go into supposedly safe skin care products, often causing more damage than the original condition.

  29. Alaide Says:

    Hello, I have very delicate skin as well and cant actually handle any sunblock!
    What do you think about zinc oxide and titanium dioxide?
    The only sunblock I still havent tried is Badger and seems to have only zinc oxide.


  30. Jessica Says:

    Trader Joe’s gentle facial cleanser has none of the above ingredients.

  31. Alaide Says:

    /anybody knows what is the best foundation for acne prone skin? has anybody tried real purity? thanks

  32. Sasha Says:

    Does anyone have a sunscreen with spf 30 or preferably above that they can recommend that does not contain pore-clogging ingredients?

  33. Saroj Says:

    Is isobutyl stearate the same as butyl stearate. There is isobutyl stearate in my sunscreen. I want to make sure they are not the same because I am tired of breaking out from sunscreens. Please help!

  34. sherry Says:

    do you guys think dairy and sugar are a culprit in hormonal/cystic/adult acne??

  35. Sandra Says:

    This list has been really helpful. I’ve been dealing with angry, persistent acne for months now. People who see my face without makeup think that it is a rash or something, so I tried an allergy test, no help. I tried creams, acne washes, pills, now I’m on birth control to see if that will help. It just keeps coming, I have a new zit or two everyday and it makes me want to cry.

    I checked the ingredients for my favorite liquid foundation, and it contains sodium chloride which has the 5 rating. I suppose that could be the culprit, although I can’t really know for sure. Either way I’m not going to purchase any more makeup without consulting this list first- I’ve wasted too much money already and spent too much time fretting over my face. I now have horrible acne scarring that will take forever to get rid of. I HATE MAYBELLINE!

    My mom says I should give up and stop wearing makeup but there’s really no way that I could do that. I’m going to try Lancome’s Teint Idole Ultra foundation next, none of the ingredients seem harmful. It’s pretty expensive ($50) but I’ve already tried all of the drugstore foundations available.

    Thanks again for the help- wish I had seen this sooner!

  36. Rosie Says:

    So glad I found this website!! I started breaking out extremely bad from stress in May. By July it had gotten so bad I began using MSF by MAC to cover it up, which made my skin worse by giving me cystic acne. I didn’t even know that it was the makeup breaking me out because the MA told me it would help my acne. I stopped using the MSF in September along with starting birth control. Now, my skin is completely clear except for the scars, but they are fading away. Also, I only use natural products on my skin so I don’t have to worry about something potentially breaking me out ( I use 99% aloe vera gel as a face moisturizer). Once again, thank you so much! You helped me save my skin!

  37. Keitha Says:

    This list is awesome! i have printed it out along with some other stuff i found on
    i have been having a MAJOR problem with acne for the past year or so and after throwing out many products, wasting TONS of money, and much trial and error, i am almost completely clear. i say “almost” because i still have the occasional “hormonal/time of the month” breakout. but even those are NOTHING now compared to what they were. this list and my own personal home made treatments have helped. i currently use: Derma-Klear 5% sulphur soap, organic apple cider vinegar and green tea as a toner, cetaphil moisturizing lotion for all skin types, and a nightly spot treatment/mask. the spot treatment is the powdered Aztec Secret calcium bentonite clay mixed with 1 asprin (diluted in a small amount of Apple cider vinegar) and mixed in with 1-2 drops of organic honey. this has really helped. it took about 3 months to see these results. but not my skin is super smooth and clear. i have been getting compliments! i use loreal true match makeup. this is only ok on the coverage . it doesnt last too long and settles into lines though. im still looking for a better makeup. but this website has helped me steer clear of the “bad” stuff. THANK YOU!!! i hope whoever is reading this might benefit from everyone’s struggles and the stuff i have tried might help as well. good luck and dont give up!!

  38. Elvira Says:

    Hi. I am a skin care specialist and would like to give an advice. It`s true that some ingredients may clog pores and cause skin conditions. However, one of the reasons might be the way you cleanse your skin. Avoid soap and soapy cleansers and rinsing your face with water. It will wash away you acid mantel (lipids – your natural oils), which plays role as skin protection. When you remove your oils, your skin tries to protect its self by producing more oil, which has no chance to come to the outer layer (stratum corneum) since you wash it again. Consequently, oil accumulates under the skin expending the pores` size, which allows dead skin cells get mixed with oil, clog pores and cause acne bacteria to spread. Also, unprotected skin becomes sensitive and prone to rosecia. You may ask: “OK, what should I do in this situation?” It`s easy. Apply cleansing milk, remove it with dump warm towel (it won`t wash your oils away, but it will help to remove dirt, makeup and dead skin cells), follow with tonner (no alcohol), apply moisturizer (avoid oil free. You need oil even if your skin is oily) while your skin is wet. It will lack moister inside and help to avoid dehydration. Remember that oily skin can also be dehydrated, and acne doesn`t indicate that your skin is oily. Dry skin can also be prone to acne. So, don`t remove oil from your skin. Buy only natural products without harmful chemicals. Grapeseed oil cannot clog your pores since its molecules are small enough. Moreover, this oil is recommended for many skin conditions including acne prone skin. Grapeseed oil is powerful antioxidant and has essential fatty acids, which are very beneficial for the skin. Do not be afraid of oils. Be careful with cleansers, washing your face with water, bad habits, junk food. Milk products and sea food trigger acne. Vitamin C is crucial for our body and for our skin. Fruits and vegetables are great choice. Try to brew a few herbs: peppermint, chamomile and green tee. Put it in a spray bottle and use as a tonner. To prolong its shelf life, keep it in refrigerator. I hope it was helpful. Good luck.

  39. JB Says:

    Personally i’m finding it almost impossible to find a face wash thats not comedogenic in some way.Everything that I look up contains ingredients that are likely to cause clogged pores so i’m at a loss as to what to use on my skin. I have oily/combo skin and blackheads are a major issue, but despite all the commercials and various claims by products nothing seems to have a positive effect on my skin. I’ve got to a point where I no longer know what to use to clean my face but know I have to use something,but what?. If anyone has any recommendations then please let me know.

  40. jen Says:

    i used bare minerals & it also made me break out.

    does anyone know of a good foundation that wont cause acne? what do you guys think of Clarins Ultra Matte or Clarins True Radiance ?

    ahhh i need a new makeup asap. help pleaseee

  41. Elyssa Morena Says:

    Hi Jen :) I would recommend either Vincent Longo’s Water Canvas Foundation (very sheer, and it does have algae I think but I’m extremely sensitive and it never bothered me. I did have a horrible cystic breakout from Bare Escentuals, which also has bismuth oxychloride, and another esthetician even recommended it to me because she swore by it so…yeah, it was a major depressing step backwards in terms of skin condition. Other than that, Physician’s Formula Pressed Mineral Powder works as well as a foundation, and is a really stripped down, BO free mineral powder. Maybelline Pure H20 Foundation was another standby for me, but I think they’ve discontinued it. It used to be my cheap alternative recommendation to the Vincent Longo kind. I’m not sure how the rest measure up to the list in terms of ingredients. I always advise going through your past used products, seeing if anything specific in an product might have caused a breakout. Make sure to check anything for things you know cause a reaction, even if someone else says they shouldn’t irritate or clog pores, the link to two different copies of the list shows mineral oil as a low number, and whenever it’s been an ingredient my skin has gone insane for days. Everyone’s skin has different major triggers, so if some ingredient has never caused you problems, don’t feel the need to eschew it entirely from your routine.

    JB :) > I would recommend leaving behind specifically acne directed products. Sometimes using the harsh, really popular chemicals (like BP gels or things that you leave on your skin for really long periods of time) cause more irritation. They usually work in adolescence because the skin is more durable, it can take a beating, but the closer towards our twenties and beyond we get, the more likely our skin is to respond to such treatment with peeling, drying, burning, etc. Also, like I said earlier, I love the list, but not everyone’s skin is the same, so certain things simply won’t be comedogenic to you, even if they’re listed as high, and others that are supposed to be safe may be disastrous to you (it sounds scary, I know, but there are certain products that tend to be relatively safe, as in, it won’t worsen any conditions, even if it doesn’t cure them. I usually recommend products that are hypo-allergic and fragrance free as good starters, as they are intended for those who are the most prone to having bad reactions).

    I would find a really gentle cleanser (I recommend Cetaphil, they do have one for oily skin too, but I tend to encourage limiting major treatment to a less powerful prescription and/or masking treatments, rather than stripping the skin during cleansing). Cetaphil’s gentle skin cleanser is a good start (it removes makeup/eye makeup, and preps for exfoliation), also, Mario Badescu Spa (available online) makes several gentle cleansers such as Seaweed Cleansing Gel and Aloe Cleansing Gel, I can’t vouch for either as I have used Cetaphil for the past six years, but Mario’s products are good quality and they’re extremely helpful in handling returns with full refunds, even if you’ve finished more than half the product. I follow in the evenings with Neutrogena Gentle Daily Scrub (it has a beta hydroxy acid, a low about 1.5% Salicylic Acid. Never use the high %s unless recommended by a doctor, higher doesn’t = better, and can lead to irritation, whereas a lower concentration can effectively treat without causing unpleasant drying), I then use a prescription 1% Clindamycin morning and evening (I urged my younger brother to ask his doctor for it, they’re almost always willing to do so because it’s a fairly gentle treatment, it is also inexpensive, running about $20/month without insurance, and $6-$10/month with insurance), it’s the consistency of a toner (clients love this discovery, as it leaves no residue and won’t dry/peel/itch your skin), you pat it on the whole face, it dries (like water might) and you proceed as usual. I use Cetaphil Skin Cream (not the lotion, but the cream that comes in a jar) in the evenings for moisturizing (even if you have oily skin, which I used to (it has balanced out in the past two years of adhering strictly to my own routine, I’m 25), you STILL need to moisturize, otherwise your skin will continue to overproduce oil, this is also why I never recommend using a powerful cleanser, you don’t want too many harsh products abusing the poor skin and stripping away oils constantly!), and go to bed. No overnight treatments. Skin needs time to relax, moisturize, and breath. A beauty editor I know recommends moisturizing in the morning and leaving the skin free of moisturizers at night (she swears it allows her skin to “balance out”), however, if you have oily skin, you may want to avoid the possibility of adding shine during the day with a layer of moisturizer. I discourage the use of moisturizers marketed as “shine reducing”, over the years I’ve tried every one from cheap Neutrogena to $60 Arcona (frequently poor online customer service, by the way), and they all invariably leave a filmy residue, and some people complain that they itch as well (if anything, foundation never lays well over these types of moisturizers).

    Now, as to specific treatments to help unclog the pores and assist with oil control; I recommend two brands: Professional Solutions and Mario Badescu. I like one mask from Professional Solutions, the Corrective Clearing Mask, it has sulfur, zinc, and a low concentration of glycolic acid. You won’t hear them advertised, but my spa and various dermatologists offer their products in office. I recommend people purchase them online though, as several websites sell their products and frequently offer coupons (the mask runs about $38+SH, and should last about 1-2 months, using it about 2-3 times a week, longer if you use it only as I do). I use this about once or twice every other week for about 25 minutes, usually only for the day or so after I’ve had a microderm (it helps calm and basically zap anything that’s been brought up by the microderm before it can become noticeable). For weekly maintenance, I recommend two masks by Mario Badescu: The Drying Mask and the Whitening Mask. The Drying Mask is a sulfur/kaolin based mask that helps reduce oil, calm any inflammation, clear up/prevent congestion/blackheads, etc. I use it about 4-5 times a week for about 25-30 minutes. The Whitening Mask (not as scary as it sounds) is really just a moisturizing treatment that soothes redness, and has exfoliating properties (it is chemical free, and licorice extract is the “whitener”), it’s gentle, and I find it does double-duty in helping to maintain a more “glowing” complexion. I use this about 3-4 times a week as well, for about 30-45 minutes.

    In addition to this, chug water with lemon (helps you drink more if you don’t like the taste), this not only helps your body function, but gives you a less fatigued look, plumping the skin naturally :), and don’t try to extract blackheads yourself! If you have inflamed breakouts, I recommend trying 4-6 weeks on the basic routine above (evening: Cleanser+Scrub+Prescription+Moisturizer / morning: rinse w/ lukewarm water, splash with icy water, + Prescription + light makeup such as Physicians Formula Mineral Pressed Powder, their Mineral Veil, Vincent Longo’s Water Canvas Foundation, or any other more sheer foundation/makeup, less is more, and the heavier the makeup, the more unhappy your skin will be). Monitor your response over this time, sometimes decongesting masks can bring up impurities, do not pick, but simply continue using it (I developed this to be a combination of gentle cleansing/non irritating deep cleansing/exfoliation, and careful moisturizing so that we’re conditioning the skin as we treat it, it will not, absent an allergy to one of the ingredients, and please ALWAYS check to be sure nothing is a known irritant to you, in any way worsen the condition of your skin). After this period of time, see if your skin has begun to improve, it really only took mine about two months of religious adherence to this to stop breaking out altogether (minus my little adventure three years ago with the cystic reaction to Bare Escentuals but, again, two months later, back to perfection). If you like the results, keep going, the only deviation or additions to this I recommend are to see a registered esthetician for microdermabrasion and skin clearing facials. I had hyperpigmentation from my acne (it was virtually invisible once I put on a sheer powder or foundation, the Whitening Mask may not be powerful, but it does gently improve things over time), and began having microderms every two weeks and a facial once a month about a year ago. I still do, mostly because I’m vain and fearful of any form of avoidable aging of the skin (naturally avoided, never any injections!). In addition to this, a microderm can be good, deep exfoliating maintenance to keep your skin clear, and combined with the occasional facial (my sister only gets two a year and swears it keeps her skin the way it is) congestion such as blackheads can be removed at an even deeper level if you think it is necessary. Both of these are optional, however. I only push a microderm if clients want to get rid of hyperpigmentation/scarring/melasma, etc. I personally love them, and they did graduate me from “only the occasional breakout right before a period” to “no breakouts, ever, at all, unless I foolishly try an unknown product”. I remember how awful breakouts are (after the Bare Escentuals incident I moped about the house for three days, feeling like Quasimodo and doing nothing but watching cartoons, wondering where it all went wrong), the good news is, there might not be a cure for acne/breakouts, etc. but you can improve and heal the complexion, it just takes gentle care, and consistency. I hope this helps, and good luck!

    Best Wishes,


  42. Elyssa Morena Says:

    Oh, and also: You can purchase the cheap/store brand version of both the Cetaphil Cream and the Cleanser (Walmart sells their version, and so does Kroger) usually this is about a $3 difference.

  43. Tamaraj Says:

    Shielo Anti Aging Complexion Scrub with their Complexion Moisturizer is like a God-send for me. I have really oily, acne-prone skin, so I am always really hesitant to try new moisturizers, since they tend to make my oily skin even worse. This product is so great. It not only moisturizes my skin, but it does not give it a greasy, oily feel, and it also helps clear up my acne. It is a win-win!

    I have used other products in the past that moisturized my skin, but left it feeling oily and really made my acne worse, and I have used moisturizers that contained acne-fighting ingredients that helped my acne, but didn’t do a great job moisturizing my skin. Even though my skin is very oily, I still need a moisturizer to ensure that it is balanced and not overproducing oil to compensate for dryness. I use this product every morning after using a cleanser and astringent.

  44. Courtany Says:

    Love your articles on cosmetic acne and products not to use for your hair!
    So today i ventured out with bost lists (hair and skin no nos) and visited price line and hair house wharehouse, I found it extremely hard to find make up, skin care and hair care products without any of these harsh ingredients! Even harder on a budget!! I dont want to spend more then $20-$30 each on shampoo and conditioner and $40 max on foundation,
    It took me hours today to look for producxts and i came home empty handed! Do you have any recommendations for hair care, facewash, mosturiser and foundation? I really wanna venture on this new good skin care regime its seeming impossible!!

  • Savvy Skin HOME Latest Updates


  • Featured Sites

    Hair Loss Hell
    Amazon BEAUTY



  • Categories

  • Recent Posts