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Acne-Causing Ingredients List

If you have acne-prone skin, I highly recommend that you first check for comedogenic ingredients before applying anything to your skin or hair. Even if the product packaging states, “Won’t Clog Pores” or “Non-Comedogenic,” this doesn’t necessarily guarantee acne-safe ingredients. No government agency oversees these claims. There are skincare companies that claim their products promote clear skin. However, their products still contain acne-causing ingredients. 

While some ingredients might not lead to clogged pores, they can still cause acne. It’s important to educate yourself about acne-causing ingredients and read labels carefully as companies do sometimes change their formulations. If you notice new pimples forming when you were clear before, taking a closer look at the products you've been using is one step you can take towards pinpointing the trigger. Below is a list of ingredients to avoid in all acne care, makeup, hair, and skincare products. Personalized advice is available from one of our acne specialists through our online consultation program

Ingredient Warnings

Believe it or not, natural oils can be some of the worst offenders. Ingredients such as cocoa butter and coconut oil are found in many organic skincare lines. These types of oils may not be pore-clogging, but they cause inflammation in the hair follicle and can cause severely inflamed acne.

Other oils such as jojoba, olive, and lanolin are mildly acnegenic and can be a problem if combined with other acne-causing ingredients.

Some prescription products, such as the cream form of Retin A, have pore-clogging and acnegenic ingredients. Many over-the-counter acne medications also have the potential to cause breakouts.

“Oil-free” does not mean that a product is safe from acne-causing ingredients. Check every product against this ingredient list before it touches your skin.

A note about dimethicone: There has been a lot of misinformation swirling around about an ingredient called dimethicone. People are concerned that this smoothing, protective agent in many skincare products will clog pores. The answer to that is no, dimethicone is not an acne-causing ingredient. For more information about the benefits of dimethicone, see our blog post: What Is The Truth About Dimethicone?

Acne-Safe Makeup

Loose powder mineral makeup tends to be the safest choice for a foundation, but should still be checked for acnegenic ingredients.

If you prefer a more matte look, try au Naturale Semi-Matte Powder Foundation. For more full coverage, layer it with au Naturale Completely Covered Creme Concealer. For liquid foundation, try Illuminare Mattifying Mineral Formula for a matte look, Moisturizing Mineral Formula for a more dewy look, or Illuminare Concealing Formula for full coverage. Can’t decide? Order the Deluxe Foundation Starter Kit to try them all.

Ingredients That Can Cause Breakouts:

  • Acetylated Lanolin
  • Acetylated Lanolin Alcohol
  • Algae Extract (there are many forms of algae; unless you know the algae source, avoid it)
  • Algin
  • Butyl Stearate
  • Carrageenan
  • Cetyl Acetate
  • Cetearyl Alcohol + Ceteareth 20
  • Chondrus Crispus (aka Irish Moss or Carrageenan Moss)
  • Chlorella
  • Coal Tar
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Coconut Alkanes
  • Coconut Butter
  • Coconut Oil
  • Colloidal Sulfur
  • Cotton Seed Oil
  • D & C Red # 17
  • D & C Red # 21
  • D & C Red # 3
  • D & C Red # 30
  • D & C Red # 36
  • Decyl Oleate
  • Dioctyl Succinate
  • Disodium Monooleamido PEG 2- Sulfosuccinate
  • Ethoxylated Lanolin
  • Ethylhexyl Palmitate
  • Glyceryl Stearate SE
  • Glyceryl-3 Diisostearate
  • Hexadecyl Alcohol
  • Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
  • Isocetyl Alcohol
  • Isocetyl Stearate
  • Isodecyl Oleate
  • Isopropyl Isostearate
  • Isopropyl Linoleate
  • Isopropyl Myristate
  • Isopropyl Palmitate
  • Isostearyl Isostearate
  • Isostearyl Neopentanoate
  • Isostearyl Palmitate
  • Kelp
  • Laminaria Digitata Extract
  • Laminaria Saccharina Extract (Laminaria Saccharine)
  • Laureth-23
  • Laureth-4
  • Lauric Acid
  • Mink Oil
  • Myristic Acid
  • Myristyl Lactate
  • Myristyl Myristate
  • Octyl Palmitate
  • Octyl Stearate
  • Oleth-3
  • Oleyl Alcohol
  • PEG 16 Lanolin
  • PEG 200 Dilaurate
  • PEG 8 Stearate
  • PG Monostearate
  • PPG 2 Myristyl Propionate
  • Plankton
  • Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate
  • Potassium Chloride
  • Propylene Glycol Monostearate
  • Red Algae
  • Seaweed
  • Shark Liver Oil (Squalene)
  • Shea Butter
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Solulan 16
  • Sorbitan Oleate
  • Soybean Oil
  • Spirulina
  • Steareth 10
  • Stearic Acid Tea
  • Stearyl Heptanoate
  • Sulfated Castor Oil
  • Sulfated Jojoba Oil
  • Stearyl Heptanoate
  • Wheat Germ Glyceride
  • Wheat Germ Oil
  • Xylene



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