Does Makeup Damage Your Skin (LEADING TO BREAKOUTS)?

Let’s talk makeup! We all love it- hey, it’s fun being a girl and trying different brands, colors, the newest creations/ trends, etc. We all love to shop in our fave department stores where there’s so many options that give off those full coverage + high quality + professional looking finishes to the skin. And don’t get me started on designer! “I’m in love with my Marc Jacobs liquid foundation and won’t trade it for the world!”

You wouldn’t, really?

“But my skin looks sooo freakin good with it on! I get compliments, even though I have acne- peeps just don’t know what’s hiding under there.”

I hear ya! – but, have you ever considered that those foundations and concealers are creating more acne?

Have you ever had this scenario happen – you apply concealer + foundation + powder in the morning, leaving your skin looking great all covered up throughout the day.

You come home, wash off the makeup and notice more acne staring back at you? Could it be the makeup? Is it congesting the skin and causing more damage during the day when you have on Armani Silk/Revlon Colorstay/Estee Lauder Double Wear?

Hmmm…does that scenario play out weekly or daily?

But wait…I have acne and must face the world! I have a job/ school/ social functions and covering up is my only way of surviving the outer world. If my skin isn’t healing underneath the makeup by topicals and better nutrition, then is there an alternative?

I’m going to break it down for you on one of the main and leading causes of female adult acne in today’s modern day and age. This post isn’t just about your makeup, but dives deeper into covering ALL concerns about cosmetics and then some. All of this is linked to potentially cause acne, inflammation of the skin, dryness, peeling, etc. The points I’ll be covering are:

-what mainstream brands are really hiding in makeup

-regulations on toxins + chemicals

-what are the alternatives (they are many!)

-greenwashing brands (watch out for these)

I’m not stating that mainstream makeup is THE only way that ladies skin gets aggravated, but one of them. Truth can be shocking and devastating, but I want you to know all the facts before you buy conventional cosmetics.

What Mainstream/Conventional Brands Don’t Tell You

A couple years ago I was browsing online for a new perfume purchase and came upon an article that left me shocked and saddened after reading. Did you know that Europe has banned over 1,328 chemicals and the US only 11 out of that bunch? Isn’t this insane, to say the least?

That was the article that turned my world from shopping at my favorite local department stores for cosmetics to the nearest health food store + online retailers that carries all natural, ingredient conscious, eco brands.

The biggest and well-known preservatives that you’ve probably already heard of to stay away from are parabens, which are hormone disruptive synthetic compounds that have been linked to cancer and reproductive issues. Parabens are most commonly used in cosmetics: methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben.

What do they do exactly? Parabens have been around since 1950’s- they prevent harmful bacteria from growing in your favorite, mainstream cosmetics and household brands. This includes lotions, makeup, skincare, soap, toothpaste, baby care, body care, haircare, and detergents.

**Very important to note – just because a brand is labeled “designer” and costs a pretty penny- means absolutely nothing and most definitely doesn’t translate to a “better or safer brand.” The last time I checked label of ingredients on a Chanel mascara- parabens were one of the ingredients staring back at me. My goodness- you’re charging me $32 for a mascara and including a carcinogen that’s going on my fragile lashes? Can they really be this serious?

Health researchers found parabens in breast tumors and believe there is a relationship between parabens and tumors. In the July 2002 issue of the Archives of Toxicology, Dr. S. Oishi of the Department of Toxicology, Tokyo Metropolitan Research Laboratory of Public Health reported that exposure of newborn male mammals to butylparaben “adversely affects the secretion of testosterone and the function of the male reproductive system.”

Other Toxins…

No wonder why many cosmetics have started to label paba-free on their packaging. Consumers are getting smarter and paying more attention to their health; therefore, many brands are finding ways around this issue by incorporating other just as harmful toxic substances (preservatives).

Unfortunately, parabens aren’t the only synthetic, manmade compounds that are lurking in cosmetics. Pthalates, BHA/BHT, PEG’s, Tricloslan, SLS, Siloxanes, DEA, Mineral oil, Aluminum, Talc, Formaldehyde, Fragrances, Lead and Coal tar dyes are some of the worst offenders.

Nerve damage, increased blood pressure, hearing and vision impairment, and of course acne, are all linked to these preservatives.

How Does This Relate to Acne?

Toxic compounds are not of natural sourced ingredients; therefore, skin gets aggravated and inflamed leading to all sorts of issues relating to persistent acne, small bumps, redness, irritation, dryness and peeling.

Simply put – skin cannot breathe under all those carcinogens – pores are blocked resulting in debris of blackheads and whiteheads. Even ladies that do not have acne prone skin complain about the persistent redness, dryness on their complexion – this is not normal by any means.

Regulations on Toxins + Chemicals

What I’m about to tell you will probably make your face redder than any chemical infused acne medication. FDA does NOT require for cosmetic companies to test for safety in their ingredients. Yes, the FDA…

I don’t know about you, but there’s no way I’m putting something on my largest organ (skin) of completely foreign nature – products with ingredient list that I can’t pronounce! Hey, if you can’t identify what that ingredient is, then it has zero business on your precious skin. No wonder why so many women suffer from rosacea, eczema, skin irritation problems, and so on. Not to mention acne!

“Fragrances” are considered trade secrets and therefore, companies do not disclose (by law) what the ingredient list entails in your fave mainstream (or niche) brand. This is more disturbing…At the least, I can always read labels on cosmetics and frown, but perfumes- well, I don’t even bother with anymore. It’s an automatic, “STOP” and do not pursue – do not smell!

In addition, many makeup, skincare, body care, and household items contain “fragrance” as one of their ingredients. Just read the labels and sure enough, fragrance is listed. Please understand, that “fragrance” can be a combination of toxic substances since ingredients don’t need to be disclosed, making it harder to understand if the product is safe.

As I mentioned earlier, per…

“The EU law bans 1,328 chemicals from cosmetics that are known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm or birth defects.  In comparison, the U.S. FDA has only banned or restricted 11 chemicals from cosmetics. Unlike the United States, EU law requires pre-market safety assessments of cosmetics, mandatory registration of cosmetic products, government authorization for the use of nanomaterials and prohibits animal testing for cosmetic purposes.”

However, Canada seems to be doing a better job than US, on imposing regulatory laws for cosmetic regulations.

“Health Canada, the federal department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health, regularly reviews the safety of cosmetic ingredients and prohibits or restricts the use of ingredients that present health risks, according to their website.  The Canadian government regularly updates a Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist that includes hundreds of chemicals and contaminants prohibited and restricted from use in cosmetics such as formaldehyde, triclosan, selenium, nitrosamines and 1,4-dioxane — all of which are allowed in U.S. products.”

What Can You Do?

For starters, get into habit of reading labels. If you can’t pronounce something, it’s probably a manmade chemical/ preservative, which will lead to more acne.

A great website that helps to identify if a product is safe, ranging from a harmless ‘0’ to hazardous ‘10’ is the EWG. Just type in the search bar your products of concern and see results. Anything from cosmetics to household items can be found here.


Luckily, many companies are coming out each year with safe and health conscious ingredients that use herbs such as thyme and oregano as their preservatives. Thankfully, those are the ingredients that all of us can pronounce and know their health benefits because they’re edible!

I’m also happy to report that nationwide Target started carrying many all-natural cosmetic brands and household items online and a bit more limited brands in stores.

Many health-conscious grocery stores carry brands with safe ingredients in mind.

Think all-natural brands won’t give you the full coverage or a beautiful satin, semi-matte, matte finish that chemical laden makeup does? Think again! Many health committed brands are coming out each year with high performance cosmetics, haircare, etc., that will make your head spin on what NEW brand to try next!

I was in the same spot a few years back, thinking what possible replacements can I find that will leave my skin matte with the full coverage effect I was after. But, alas…once I started searching, I started falling in love with so many beautiful non-toxic brands that utilize botanicals, rich pigment fruits, and naturally perfumed essential oils in their products.

In addition, my skin started to clear up once I made the switch.

Some of my favorite, trusted brands include the following:

-Antonym Cosmetics

-100% Pure

-W3LL People

-Kjaer Weis

-Jane Iredale

-Lily Lolo





All brands mentioned above are non-toxic and cruelty free! Also, there are online retailers such as The Detox Market and Citrine Natural Beauty Bar that have a sample program, which allows you to try before you buy a full-sized product. I’ve personally used these sample purchases to find out which products fit my skin type in terms of texture, coverage, and color.


Have you heard of greenwashing? Well, I’m more than happy to explore this vital concept with y’all because many cosmetic brands are trying to be tricky into incorporating/ calling their products all-natural, when they really are not.

Many brands in the recent years have been jumping on the green, non-toxic bandwagon due to customers’ demands on carefully selecting items that are clearly marked SLS- free, paba-free, and so on. For example, a foundation will be labeled, “made with green tea and antioxidant rich ingredients” to make the consumer think that the item is in fact healthy for your skin.

However, when you read the ingredient label, most likely you will clearly see many toxic and carcinogenic ingredients such as PEG, butylene glycol (another version for parabens), sodium chloride, etc.

It’s very misleading, to say the least, when a brand labels something natural and herbal but reading their labels, only 1 ingredients looks healthy but the rest (paragraph worth) …very questionable.

One of my all-time fave makeup brands before I made the switch, was tarte. Whenever I used their paba-free, SLS-free, phtalate free, triclosan free foundations, I’d break out. And these weren’t little, tiny breakouts, either. I’m talking almost cystic size type. I looked at their ingredient label, and oh my!

I don’t know what this paragraph of ingredients are, but this can’t be all-natural like they claim! Loved their other makeup beside foundations but unfortunately, tarte is one of those greenwashing brands, so be careful and really pay attention to those labels.

Where do I go from Here?

Making a decision to go green with your makeup, skincare, body care, and household items, isn’t just better for your skin but most importantly, vital for the optimal level of your health and wellbeing.

External beauty is something that most of us strive for – clear and naturally glowy complexion is a sign of confidence and vitality. But please, do not let the external beauty of commercialized brands and celebrities impose internal health risks, which includes damage to your skin (acne). It’s simply not worth it- especially knowing that there ARE many gorgeous options out there!

I want you to know that you have choices and don’t have to settle for the pore congesting, harmful to your health, skin suffocating + aggravating makeup just to feel “normal.” I’ve been in that spot before and once I made the switch, my skin started to heal from the inside- radiating the healthy cell turnover on the outside.

Have you tried green, non-toxic makeup? Thoughts? Do share, below!

Sources + References (click link below)


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