What is Acne Cosmetica?

Do you have acne cosmetica?

Normally, acne is usually caused by hormonal change, clogged pores, excess dry skin cells and over production of oil. However, there are instances that makeup and other cosmetic products can induce acne breakouts. Acne Cosmetica is the term used if the acne is caused by cosmetics. This kind of acne is rarely seen nowadays compared to the 70’s and 80’s as a lot of cosmetic products in the market are re-formulated and improved to be non-comedogenic (oil-free or water based).

Symptoms and Causes

What is Acne Cosmetica?Acne Cosmetica looks likes pink tiny bumps on the skin. It appears like a rash and can spread on the forehead, cheeks and chin. Whiteheads, blackheads and pustules can also appear.

Cosmetic products like foundation, powders, moisturisers and even lotions are the most common causes of acne cosmetica. Hair products like gels, wax, and oil can also trigger this mild acne. However, the ingredients found in these cosmetic products are really the one that is causing acne cosmetica. Here are the most common ingredients that trigger acne cosmetica:

  • Oil
    Oil is the most common ingredient that is used in makeup like moisturisers, foundation and creams since it leaves a fine and smoother finish on the skin. However, oil also contributes to acne breakouts. The combination of excess oil, dead skin cells and makeup can trigger acne cosmetica.
  • Fragrances
    Fragrances are not really necessary in cosmetic products specifically in foundation and powders. However, some makeup adds fragrances like musk and ambrette to cover the scent of other ingredients or even entice consumer to use the product. The truth is, fragrances can cause skin irritation, allergic reaction and increase the chances of having acne cosmetica.
  • Dyes
    Dyes and colorings are another ingredient that is commonly found in cosmetic products. D&C dyes (Drug and Cosmetic dyes) are often found in blushes to have their certain color. This ingredient does not only clog pores but can also trigger allergic reaction and skin irritation especially if you have sensitive skin.
    Aside from these common ingredients, dirty makeup brushes and sponges can also induce acne cosmetica. That is why it’s important to regularly clean your makeup brushes and tools to prevent any irritation and breakouts.


Treating acne caused by cosmetics is very simple; avoid using make up until your acne clears out. Usually, it takes a month or two for the acne to clear. However, this is easier said than done especially if you use make up regularly. Here are some tips on how to prevent as well as treat acne cosmetica:

  • Read labels
    Reading labels and learning the ingredients of anything you buy including cosmetic products is very beneficial. Not only will it help you save but it will also prevent unwanted complication and irritation. Make sure when you buy makeup and other cosmetic products; choose those that have oil, dye and fragrance free formulation.
  • Cleaning your Face
    It’s very important to clean your face regularly especially if you use makeup. Washing your face twice a day, one in the morning and the other in the evening before going to sleep is enough to not strip away the natural oil of your skin. Avoid sleeping with your makeup on as this can result breakouts and irritation.
  • Cleaning your makeup brushes
    Cleaning your makeup brushes regularly will not only prevent acne breakouts, skin irritation or infection but will also extend the life your expensive brushes.


You could also use over the counter acne treatments, gels or creams to lessen the breakout. It’s also recommended to consult a specialist to have the proper treatment for your skin.

AQI Invisible Spot Gel is an oil and fragrance free gel that targets acne spots directly to effectively minimise acne breakouts without over drying and irritating your face.


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