SHINEU | 10 Common Skin-Care Ingredients That Are Making You Break Out
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10 Common Skin-Care Ingredients That Are Making You Break Out

10 Common Skin-Care Ingredients That Are Making You Break Out

If you’re prone to breakouts, you probably have an arsenal of products to treat them, but not all are actually helpful. These are the 10 ingredients that could be making your acne worse.

Salicylic acid

Breakouts can be caused by a number of factors, including not taking your makeup off at night, not changing your pillowcase frequently, a diet of fatty, sugary foods, or the wrong skincare regimen for your skin type, according to Kerri Daniels, New York-based makeup artists and consultant at Rodan + Fields Dermatologists. While you may have grabbed products with salicylic acid as a teen, as it’s commonly found in drugstore cleansers and moisturizers targeted toward women with breakouts, salicylic acid can be too harsh on acne, causing inflammation, redness, and excessive dryness. Not ready to part with your favorite cleanser? Don’t worry, you can still use it strategically. “It can be used in small doses as spot treatments,” assures Daniels.

Exfoliating beads

After a long day, treating your dull skin to some much-needed exfoliation sounds like a treat. But rather than gently sloughing away dead skin cells, exfoliating beads can be too harsh, causing irritation and even breakouts. “Exfoliating beads are bad for acne because they inflame the skin, making the condition worse and more protracted,”says Mona Gohara, MD, dermatologist and Associate Clinical Professor at Yale University’s Department of Dermatology.


The smell of citrus might perk you up in the morning but it doesn’t justify using scented products on your face. “Fragrance and perfumes can be found in many over-the-counter washes and scrubs marketed toward acne-prone skin,” says Dr. Gohara. These commonly used products could be the culprit behind that inflamed pimple or blotchy complexion. If you have dry skin or you find yourself scratching your face throughout the day, adding unscented products to your routine could ease your discomfort.


You might have stocked up on products containing retinol after you heard about its many anti-aging promises. The seemingly magical ingredient  has been shown to treat fine lines and uneven skin tone by promoting cell turnover and exfoliating away scars left behind by acne. If you do want to get some retinol into your regimen, talk to your dermatologist about formulas that are gentle enough for your skin type. They might even do a patch test to see how your skin reacts to the product.


Jane Iredale, founder and president of Jane Iredale, wants you to take a natural approach to your skincare—starting with steering you away from products such as toners and cleansers that may contain alcohol. “Alcohol dries the skin, which excites the sebaceous glands to secrete more oil (sebum) in order to hydrate the skin,” she says. “The sebum gets trapped in the glands, and bacteria go to work. They love sebum.” To prevent dry and uncomfortable skin, add a gentle cleanser with micellar water to your nighttime routine.

Many over-the-counter face washes and spot treatments boast Benzyol Peroxide as their star acne-fighting ingredient that will wipe out blemishes for good. The powerful ingredients may work to clear a zit or two away, but its not a long-term solution for those battling hormonal acne. To get a smooth, clear complexion without the irritating and drying side effects of benzyol peroxide, Jane Iredale recommends Skin Accumax, a supplement for acne-prone adult skin (including for those with hormonal and cystic acne). It contains vitamins and plant nutrients in a synergistic blend that targets the skin without harsh, drying, or irritating side effects. Also make sure to take the best possible care of acne-prone skin, by following this doctor-approved acne regimen.

Coconut oil

You may have heard the whoosh of the pendulum swinging—first we thought oil was off-limits for acne-prone skin, and then we heard that oil attracts oil and is actually totally appropriate for acne-prone skin. Even if some skin-care oils do work for this skin type, you might still want to avoid coconut oil on your face. According to Beneficial Botanicals, coconut oil is considered to be a highly comedogenic, meaning it can block or clog your pores. You can still slather it on your dry elbows or fried hair ends if you want.


Ever notice breakouts after using a heavy foundation or facial sunless tanner? According to The Cosmetist, silicone may be the culprit behind those unwanted flare-ups. Heavy products containing silicone can make your skin feel soft at first, but are quick to layer onto your face, causing clogged pores that lead to breakouts over time. Curious about other side effects your beauty products can have on your skin?


The use of talc in common cosmetic and household items (including baby powders and shower products) raised concerns when studies linked the substance to the carcinogen asbestos and even ovarian cancer. Although the FDA has deemed most common cosmetic products that contain talc as safe, those with acne should be aware of the dryness and irritation it can cause on sensitive and inflamed skin. Before stocking up on new eye shadows and setting powders to beat the summer heat, check the ingredients to make sure talc isn’t on the list.


It’s not always easy to understand what goes into your makeup or beauty products, but it’s not a bad idea to avoid parabens, a family of chemical compounds used as preservatives—they’ll show up on ingredient lists as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben. Parabens are approved by the FDA to be used in everything from shampoos to hair dyes, and although they may not necessarily aggravate your acne directly, there’s a concern that they can mimic estrogen in the body, which could influence your hormones and contribute to acne.

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