21 Ingredients in Makeup to Avoid If You Have Acne (plus one toxin you add yourself)

Reading Time: 6 minutes

When you’re shopping for skincare and beauty products, you might be attracted by the promises made on the label like “Anti-Shiny” or “With Real Honey” or “Infallible”. But the ingredients list (that’s usually hidden on the back or bottom) can tell you so much more about what you’re really buying into.

Especially if you have acne-prone skin, it is important to make a habit out of checking the actual ingredients. Apart from drying your skin out, certain makeup components can irritate and clog your skin, trigger an allergic reaction, bring more toxins in your system or even disrupt proper functioning of your cleansing organs. All these factors can result in more acne.

So while you’re trying to make your skin look better, your choice of product makes it worse.

But there’s hope! More and more makeup manufacturers are using better components. You just need to know what to check for. A great way to learn all about ingredients and their effects on different types of skin, is to participate in a cosmetology workshop. But to give you a head start the next time you go beauty shopping, I’ve created a blacklist of substances you should avoid, if you want your skin to stay clear and fresh!

Bad Ingredients of Beauty Products


Used for: It usually functions as a solvent. The ingredient is often hidden in the term ‘fragrance’.

Why Avoid: It is absorbed quickly by your skin and may therefore end up in your body. Studies on animals have shown that this ingredient may interfere with your lungs and liver. As the liver has a cleansing function for your body, and acne can be a consequence of too many toxins, you should stay clear of this ingredient.


Used as: A preservative

Used in: Cream, sunscreen, facial cleanser and acne products.

Why Avoid: this is quickly absorbed by your skin and therefore in your system. It disrupts the functioning of the liver, and can cause cancer.


Used as: preservative

Used in: Cream, shower gel, facial cleanser, makeup remover, anti-aging products

Why Avoid: Bronopol is irritating to eyes, skin and respiratory tract. In addition, it can cause allergic reactions. Repeated or prolonged contact may sensitize the skin. These are all conditions which can make your acne worse.


Used as: Preservative. It causes products to deteriorate less quickly.

Used in: This ingredient can be used anywhere. Within the European Union, this product is prohibited, especially when ordering products from a non-EU country.

Why Avoid: It can affect your immune system, which can result in more acne. Animal studies show that this ingredient is found in your liver and brain.


Used as: It ensures the correct pH value

Used in: Sunscreen, cream, foundation, hair coloring.

Why Avoid: Diethanolamine can form a carcinogenic substance in excessive quantities. Therefore, agreements have been reached about the amount of DEA that may be contained in a product. Please note that the maximum is per product. You can easily use 10 products in one day that have this substance. It may cause skin irritation, which increases acne.


Used as: Solvent

Used in: Nail polish, mascara, whitening toothpaste, perfume.

Why Avoid: It is on the EPA list of hazardous waste. It is irritating to the eyes and the respiratory tract and can cause headaches. On the skin it has a strong drying effect, which can over-stimulate your sebum production.


Used as: a synthetic solvent, disinfectant and detergent.

Used in: This ingredient can be found in many cosmetic products. Therefore, if you want to avoid it, always read the ingredients list.

Why avoid: It is harmful to the liver, kidneys and pancreas. It irritates the skin, mucous membranes and eyes.


Used as: giving a nice fragrance to a product.

Used in: Perfume is used in almost all cosmetic products.

Why Avoid: The term ‘perfume’ can be a collective name for 10 to 300 different chemical ingredients. You usually won’t know what you are wearing on your skin. Many of these ingredients have not been tested for safety.


Used as: a preservative

Used in: It can be used for almost all cosmetics.

Why Avoid: It can cause allergic skin reactions and affect the liver.


Used as: a preservative

Used in: It’s in a lot of cosmetics.

Why Avoid: It can cause allergic reactions and is harmful to the development of the nervous system.


Used as: a UV filter

Used in: Sunscreen and makeup

Why Avoid: It can cause allergic reactions. In addition, it increases the absorbent capacity of the skin, causing other chemicals to penetrate the skin faster and be absorbed by the body.


Used as: preservatives and for their antibacterial properties

Used in: Parabens are found in almost all cosmetics.

Why Avoid: The preservative effect also works when the product is applied to the skin and even after it is absorbed by the skin and enters the bloodstream. It eventually ends up in vital organs. The preservative effect is so strong that it continues to work, where it will reduce the normal enzyme activity of the body and cause cellular problems.


Used as: a (protective) layer over the skin, provides the shine in lipstick and is a cheap skin softener.

Used in: You can encounter this in almost any cosmetics.

Why Avoid: Your skin becomes dry and won’t produce any more skin oils itself. In addition, it is linked to cancer and other health problems.


Used as: a solvent and perfume.

Used in: many care and beauty products.

Why Avoid: It can affect the immune system and possibly be carcinogenic.


Used as: a solvent, opens pores and ensures that the product does not freeze at cold temperatures, or melts at hot temperatures.

Used in: You can get it in almost all products

Why Avoid: Changes the skin structure, causing other chemicals to penetrate deep into the skin and get into the bloodstream.


Used for: It absorbs moisture / fat

Used in: Blush, powder, eye shadow, baby powder and deodorant.

Why Avoid: It dries out the skin and clogs the pores. Any over-use of very fine powder can be bad for the lungs/


Used for: it is an antioxidant and creates shine in products

Used in: nail polish and hair color

Why Avoid: It is flammable and can cause irritation. In addition, this substance gets into the liver and affect its cleansing function.


Used as: binder, solvent and conductor for other ingredients

Used in: scrubs, makeup and toothpaste

Why avoid: The higher the PEG number, the stronger and more compact it is. PEGs with a number above 200 can cause eczema, acne outbreaks and allergy. PEGs are usually well tolerated, but because they are a conductor, they can bring in other harmful substances. During manufacturing there is a high risk of developing the carcinogenic dioxin.


Used as: active ingredient and coloring

Used in: dry skin treatment, anti-dandruff shampoo and as a coloring agent in cosmetics (FD & Red No. 6)

Why avoid: It is a skin irritant, and contains carcinogens.


Used as: skin lightener, facial cleansers and moisturizers, hair conditioners, nail polish

Used in: Skin lightening products

Why avoid: linked to cancer and reproductive toxicity

  1. LEAD

Used as: this is a bit tricky, because it is not an ingredient, but a contaminant

Used in: lipstick

Why avoid: lead is a known carcinogen. In 2016, the FDA has started a project to remove all products that are contaminated with lead.

One last ingredient: Toxins you add yourself

Even when you buy the right makeup with a clean list of ingredients, you need to take proper care of your beauty products. Think about fungi and bacteria. Infection of makeup products occurs more often than you think! So follow these simple guidelines, and your skin will thank you:

Get rid of old makeup, and keep tools clean

Storing your makeup too long or forgetting to clean brushes and sponges is really asking for trouble. After six months, dump your foundation, after 6 months your liquid eyeliner and lip gloss, after one and a half years your eye shadow and powder and after 3 to 4 months your mascara!

Don’t use testers

Avoid using the testers in the stores on your skin. Terrible but true: a study by Dr. Elizabeth Brooks found that 100% of the makeup testers in stores were infected with the e-coli, staphylococcus, and streptococcus bacteria!

Hi! I’m Janice Mann.

Thank you for reading my article, I hope it was helpful. If you are thinking about become a beauty professional, visit my website at Our World Is Beauty. I will help you find your perfect education match. Whether it is a workshop on a specific skill, or complete vocational programs at certified beauty schools, you will find the perfect match to up your beauty game.

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