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All About Acne – Part IV: Cosmetics for Acne-prone Skin

  • Posted on July 1, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Brand CollageAfter my last post I’m sure there was a lot of exasperation, like “what the heck IS safe to use?”  I wanted to give you a list of just some of the foundations I’ve found that do not have the ingredients that may cause irritation and breakouts.  Obviously something may not have any of the Big Nasty ingredients and still irritate your skin, or you might not like the particular formula, but I didn’t want to leave you with only the bad.

 

High End Foundation

 

BareMineralsbareMinerals Original Foundation SPF 15

My favorite mineral foundation by far is the Bare Minerals Original Foundation with SPF 15.  This is the foundation that I used through my twenties, and still have in my rotation today.  It has only 5 ingredients.  That’s right – no huge paragraph of hard-to-read chemicals, just 5 simple ingredients – 2 of which are for sunscreen!  The fewer ingredients you have, the less of a chance for irritation.  It also offers 20 shade variations, and those shades are very forgiving.  That means that you don’t have to get a near-exact match in the way you’d expect with a liquid foundation.  They’re very blendable.

Now, I know the price for this foundation can be a deterrent for some.  There may be other mineral foundations out there that are cheaper.  I would caution you to make sure that the brand has no fillers or additional ingredients for shimmer or shine.  Check those ingredients!

 

Additional Products – I thought it would be helpful to mention that not only does bareMinerals make foundation, they also carry a line of concealers, blushes, bronzers, highlights and basically every type of cosmetic you may want.  Their loose mineral powders have the least amount of ingredients and are the ones that I would recommend.  You can’t go wrong checking out this line.

 

 Tarte Tinted Moisturizer

Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer

This is my other go-to face product.  It’s not a true foundation; the coverage is too light for that.  But it doesn’t claim to be.  I use this for light coverage when I just want to even out my skin tone and I want something more moisturizing.  This is definitely not a matte tinted moisturizer.  It does have a more satin finish to it.  Sometimes I will layer this with a dusting of the bareMinerals over top.  It goes on easily, doesn’t slide all over my face in a grease fest 20 minutes after applying it, and is great in the summer when I don’t want to have anything heavy on my skin.

 

Additional Products – Tarte, like bareMinerals, has a whole line of cosmetics you can check out.  Their blushes are beautiful and really do last all day like their name claims.  They have a silicone-free primer called the Clean Slate Flawless 12-Hour Brightening Primer which is a great alternative for oily skin.  Just stay away from the Aqualillies palette!

 

Drugstore Foundation

Let me tell you, within the category of drugstore brand cosmetics, the selection of “safe” foundations for acneic skin is very limited.  VERY.  LIMITED.  It was surprising to me how many foundations have names that would suggest that they are perfect for acne-prone skin, only to read the ingredients and see several horribly irritating and breakout-causing heavy hitters listed.  That’s why you have to ignore the names, the claims, and go straight for the ingredients.  If you are shopping online and the ingredients are not listed anywhere – skip it.  Move on.  Even if it’s called “Amazing Acne Clearing Best Thing For You Foundation.”  Resist the urge!

 

Neutrogena Skin Clearing


Neutrogena SkinClearing Oil Free Makeup

This foundation has salicylic acid in it, which is an ingredient that actually helps treat acne.  A word of caution about this one though – it also has Vitamins A, C, and E, which for some people can be irritating (especially the Vitamin A).  I have not tried this foundation personally, so I can’t talk to the formula or the wearability.  I’m basing this solely on the ingredients.

 

Neutrogena Healthy Skin
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Compact Makeup

Neutrogena gave me two options for the drugstore.  I promise, I looked at other brands and either was not able to get a list of their ingredients or they had some of the Big Nasties in them.  This foundation option has a whopping 55 SPF, which is awesome!  It’s rare that you will see an SPF that high in a foundation.  The down side is that there appear to only be eight color options, catering to the light and medium skin tones.  I haven’t used this foundation to be able to give you an idea of the coverage.  Like the Skin Clearing foundation, I am listing it here based on it’s ingredients.  I’d love to hear if you’ve tried this foundation, or any of the ones I have listed.

 

 

Bottom Line

Read the ingredients on any product that is going to be against your skin.  Don’t rely on the name of the product as a guide for what you should be purchasing.  Especially when you are looking at drugstore brands… it is a mine field out there.

It’s important to note that you may have a foundation that you love that might have a questionable ingredient in it.  The best way to test how your skin reacts to a product is to only add one new product at a time into your routine.  Or conversely only take one product away at a time from your existing routine and see if it changes things.  However, if you looked at your skincare and makeup and saw that the majority of the items had Big Nasties in them – STOP USING THEM NOW.  But if you are in love with a particular product, and don’t want to believe it may be hurting your skin, remove it and see if it helps at all.  If you’re following the skincare routine I outlined in my previous post here, your skin should be reacting positively to the changes.  If the foundation was breaking you out, you will see a change.

All About Acne – Part III: Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid

  • Posted on June 26, 2013 at 3:46 am

If you haven’t already, check out the previous two posts I’ve written in my series about acne:  All About Acne – Part I:  What Is It and What Causes It? and All About Acne – Part II:  Treatment and Skincare Routine.

Ingredients Collage

Now let’s talk ingredients.  Most people are more aware of ingredients when it comes to our cooking,  but when we walk through the makeup aisles of our favorite stores we tend to be focused on all of the names and claims and rarely take a moment to look at the actual contents of the products.  Fancy packaging and buzz words can sucker anyone into picking up something that might not be the best thing for their skin.

When you have acne or acne-prone skin, ingredients become even more important.  You have to become a detective of sorts and quickly scan ingredient labels, looking for the Big Nasties as I like to call them – the top pore clogging, acne causing, face irritating ingredients.

Keep in mind that a lot of ingredients have similar names but completely different levels of irritation.  Example:  Octyl Salicylate is like a zero out of five on the comedogenic (meaning clogs pores and causes acne)/irritation scale, whereas Octyl Stearate is a five out of five.  It can be confusing and frustrating, but trust me – if you look for the Big Nasties on your cosmetics labels and make some changes if you find you’ve got some shady products in your cabinets, your skin will love you for it and you will clear up the acne even faster.


Danger

The Big Nasties – Top Pore Clogging, Acne Causing Ingredients to Avoid

**Remember:  You are looking for these SPECIFIC ingredients to avoid in a product.  Some ingredients have similar names, or are in the same family of the nasties listed but are safe.


 

Lanolins  (Ranked 4 out of 5 on Comedogenic Scale)

This is used in many soaps, cosmetics and ointments because it is so easily absorbed by the skin.  What is it?  Wool grease.  Literally the fatty wax secreted by sheep’s skin that coats their wool.  Ewww.  Sounds kind of gross when it’s spelled out like that, right?


Specific Versions to Avoid 

  • Acetylated Lanolin
  • Acetylated Lanolin Alcohol
  • PEG 16 Lanolin

 

Isopropyl Myristate (Ranked 5 out of 5 on Comedogenic Scale)

This bad boy and it’s evil band of brothers are synthetic oils that are readily absorbed by the skin.  Even though they are oils, they lessen the greasy feel of cosmetics and give them a sheer, slick feel.  Sounds great right?  Except that it is such an aggressive penetrator that it is the main ingredient in most rust removers.  Yes.  Rust removers.  Not so appealing now.


Specific Versions to Avoid

  • Isopropyl Myristate
  • Isostearyl Neopentanoate
  • Isopropyl Isosterate
  • Isopropyl Palmitate
  • Isopropyl Linolate
  • Isostearyl Isostearate
  • Myristyl Lactate
  • Myristic Acid
  • Stearyl Heptanoate

 

Algae (Ranked 5 out of 5 on Comedogenic Scale)

Now, algae in it’s many forms is not a bad ingredient.  It’s just bad for people who have acne or acne-prone skin.  It helps combat dehydration, is packed with minerals and acts as an antioxidant.  Unfortunately, it can be irritating to the skin, cause blackheads and whiteheads, and aggravate existing acne.


Specific Versions to Avoid

  • Algae Extract
  • Red Algae
  • Blue Algae
  • Kelp
  •  Algin
  • Sodium Alginate
  • Alginic Acid
  • Anything starting in “Laminaria”


Other Heavy Hitters to Avoid (Oils, Alcohols, Pigments)

This is a final quick list of other irritating, potentially acne causing ingredients to look for and avoid.  Unfortunately these are heavily present in a lot of drugstore foundations and moisturizers.

  • Butylene Glycol – This ingredient is on the “watch list.” It’s a common ingredient that has been known to irritate sensitive skin, even though it is a 2/3 on the Comedogenic Scale.
  • Laureth-4
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Potasium Chloride
  • Cetyl Alcohol
  • Isodecyl Oleate
  • Ceteareth 20
  • Isocetyl Alcohol
  • Isocetyl Stearate
  • Hexadecyl Alcohol
  • Octyl Stearate
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Peach Kernel Oil
  • Coconut Butter
  • Linseed Oil
  • D&C Red #30
  • D&C Red #36

 

LabelsProducts That May Break You Out

I wanted to include here a short list of some popular products on the market that contain one or more of the ingredients I listed above.  If it’s something you use and love, I’m sorry!  It may be working against you.  I’m not saying it is the cause of your acne, but it’s something to check out.  If what you use is not listed here, it doesn’t meant that it doesn’t contain any ingredients above.  One thing that I learned is that there are a LOT of drugstore cosmetics that have multiple Big Nasties in their ingredients.  It would be a huge list.  The best thing you can do is look at what you’re currently using to be sure.

 

Revlon ColorStay Foundation – Contains Butylene Glycol and Sodium Chloride.

L’Oreal True Match Foundation – Contains Butylene Glycol, Isostearyl Neopentanoate, and Sodium Chloride.

MAC Studio Fix Fluid – Contains Butylene Glycol and Algae Extract.

MAC Mineralize Satin Finish Foundation – Contains Butylene Glycol and Potassium Chloride.

Neutrogena Visibly Even Foaming Cleanser – Contains Myristic Acid.

Noxema Triple Clean Antibiotic – Contains Myristic Acid.

Clearasil Daily Face Wash – Contains Myristic Acid.

Laura Mercier Secret Concealer – Contains Isopropyl Palmitate.

Smashbox High Definition Liquid Concealer – Contains Butylene Glycol and Sodium Chloride.

 

Bottom Line

I know that I gave you a lot of ingredients and that it can be a little overwhelming.  Take some time to look at your foundation, concealer, moisturizer – everything you put directly onto your skin – and make sure that something you are using to cover up your acne isn’t actually causing it or making it worse.  The best thing to do is try removing the particular item from your routine and see if your skin responds positively to the change.

 

All About Acne – Part II: Treatment and Skincare Routine

  • Posted on June 22, 2013 at 2:22 am

Acne Part 2 CollageIn Part I of my series on acne I talked about what it is and what causes it.  Now let’s get into different ways that you can treat it.  Unfortunately there isn’t a magic wand that can make your acne disappear overnight (in most cases), but there are several options that can clear up skin rather quickly if done right.

 

Acne Treatments – Your Routine

What I’ve mapped out below is a basic skin routine for someone with acne.  If your skin is cystic and extremely overrun with acne, you should consider seeing a dermatologist first so that you can get the infection treated and under control.  There is a certain point where handling it by yourself is no longer an option.


Cleanse

It would seem that this is an easy step and kind of a no-brainer, but often times individuals with acne are either not cleansing their skin properly or are using the wrong products to do so.  Here is what you need to know about cleansing when it comes to dealing with acne-prone skin:

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser1 Burt's Bees Acne Solutions Purifying Cleanser1

  •  Use a gentle cleanser in the morning and at night – “Gentle” is the key here.  Sometimes people gravitate towards harsher cleansers, use scrubs, and end up over-stripping their skin.  We all have a thin layer of oil that protects our skin from outside irritants.  We need it.  It’s just part of life.  When you have acne, oil becomes this horrible thing that you are trying to get rid of.  However, if you over-strip your skin and remove that protective barrier, your skin panics and kicks oil production into high gear to compensate.  Using a gentle cleanser (at night especially) will help remove the makeup, dirt, grime, and general nastiness of the day from your skin without irritating it.
  •  No Scrubs – Whenever you get tempted to do some extra exfoliation on your skin, just remember the TLC song and stay away from scrubs until everything calms down on your face.  The little grains in scrubs that make them initially feel great can actually cause mini-tears in your skin, irritating the acne even further.

 

 

Purchase:
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Burt’s Bees Acne Purifying Gel Cleanser

 

Exfoliate

I just said to stay away from scrubs, but that doesn’t mean that your skin won’t benefit from exfoliation.  When you exfoliate, you are removing the dead skin cells from your skin’s surface.  This becomes especially important when you have acne-prone skin because your skin isn’t shedding the dead cells properly.  As with cleansing, the big key here is to use a gentle exfoliant.

Flash Foam Cleanser
One that I love is from Bioelements.  It is their Flash Foam Cleanser.

  • Dissolves dead cells, dirt, and makeup
  • Provides mild exfoliation
  • Leaves skin feeling refreshed

Use this once a week at night, one pump is all you need.  It feels great on the skin, so you’ll likely feel tempted to use it more than that, but resist the urge.  Stick to once a week and your skin will love it.

Purchase

Bioelements Flash Foam Cleanser

 

Topical Treatment

There is only one topical treatment that I use or recommend, because I have seen it do amazing things.  That is the Bioelements Breakout Control treatment.

Breakout Control1

You know when your skin gets that sort of itchy feeling, and you just know that you’re going to break out?  If I put Breakout Control on the spot when I first get that feeling, I won’t break out.  If I don’t catch a pimple before it develops, I use this and it with either make it disappear or bring it to a head so that I can extract it.

 

  • Dries and clears acne pimples
  • Helps prevent new blemishes from forming
  • Can be worn under makeup or alone
  • Use it day and night

 

 
My sister asks me for this all of the time, because the last time she visited I was able to clear up her skin using this product and my High Frequency machine (which I will talk about in a future post).  A tiny little bit of it goes a long way.  You could cover your face with it using about a pea size of product, but only use it where you have acne present (or where you get that feeling one is going to appear).  When I have the occasional breakout and need a spot treatment I only need an itsy bitsy amount to get the job done, it lasts forever.

Purchase:
Bioelements Breakout Control

 

Moisturize/Sunscreen

Sun Diffusing Protector1 Your skin needs moisture and sun protection, always.

If you’d like to combine the two into one light product that I swear by, check out Bioelements Sun Diffusing Protector.  If you read my blog about sunscreen you know this is my go-to product.  I absolutely love it.

For some people, exposure to the sun can actually worsen acne.  Also, if it is determined that you need to go on an antibiotic or a prescription medication to treat your acne (typically if it is cystic and running rampant on your skin), they can make you more susceptible to the sun’s rays.

You don’t want your skin burning and becoming even more irritated because of the sun, so protect it with something light that won’t clog your pores.

Purchase:

Bioelements Sun Diffusing Protector

 

 

Bottom Line

Following the right skin care routine is so important to getting your skin back on track and getting rid of acne.  In my next blog I will talk about ingredients to avoid in your makeup.  There are several things to look for that can actually aggravate existing acne or even cause breakouts.  Like me on Facebook and you will be the first to know when I post a new article.

Let me know if you try any of the products I listed above, and how you liked them.

All About Acne – Part I: What Is It, and What Causes It

  • Posted on June 22, 2013 at 1:56 am

“I wouldn’t trade the acne scar on my right cheek, because that recurring zit spent more time with me in college than any boy ever did.”  ~Tina Fey

Acne Part 1 Collage Final

One of the most challenging – and rewarding – skin conditions that I have dealt with as an esthetician is acne.  It is truly rewarding for me to work with someone who has acne and watch their skin transform as it clears up.  It can be life changing, especially for people whose acne seems to be out of control.

I have wanted to write about acne since I started this blog, but it is a huge topic.  I wasn’t sure where I wanted to start, so I decided to break this down into pieces and parts.  I hope this information helps!

We seem to have a ton of names for it – zit, pimple, whitehead, blemish, blackhead, pustule, cyst, sore… But what IS acne?  When I ask people to tell me what acne is, they invariably give me another name for it and look at me like I am nuts.  “You know, it’s a zit,” and point to one they are trying to cover up.  Understanding how to deal with acne requires first knowing what it is, and what causes it.  Like GI Joe taught us – Knowing is half the battle.  Go Joe!  (For those of you who are not 80s and older children… I’m sorry.  I’m 33 and a total closet 80s fanatic.)

Anyway, back to acne.

 

What The Heck Is Acne?

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles are clogged with dead skin cells and oil.  You’ll see it pop up mostly on the face, although it can spread its way to your neck, shoulders, chest and back as well.

 

What Are The Types of Acne?

Doctors use fancy names for the different types of acne that you can get, but I want to try to keep it simple.

  1. Whiteheads – A non-inflamed (not red, agitated, or irritated) pore clogged with oil, dead skin cells and sometimes bacteria that has a white cap to it.
  2. Blackheads – If a whitehead has a slight opening at the top, the oil and dead skin cells will darken as the air oxidizes it.  It’s the same thing that happens sometimes with foundations – they look one color in the bottle, but as soon as they get out in the air and on your skin they darken up slightly.
  3. Pimple – The angry step-sister to the whitehead.  They are the inflamed, red, tender bumps that have white pus built up on the tip.
  4. Pustule – I didn’t have any other specific name for this type of pimple, because they tend to get lumped in with the rest.  These are the slightly raised, very tender red suckers that hurt when you touch them but have not yet come to a head.  No pus has developed on these yet.
  5. Cysts – These are larger, painful, pus-filled lumps under the surface of the skin.  These bad boys are the ones that cause a lot of acne scarring.

 

What Causes Acne?

There are three major causes of acne:

  1. An Overproduction of Oil – We all have a thin layer of oil on our skin for protection.  Sometimes our skin can go into hyper oil production mode and all of a sudden our face turns into an oil slick.
  2. Irregular Shedding of Dead Skin Cells – Our skin has a renewal cycle; fresh new cells are created and move to the surface of our skin, where they eventually die and shed off.  When that process doesn’t happen as it should, we can get a build up of dead skin cells clogging our pores and irritating our skin.
  3. Build-up of Bacteria – If our skin doesn’t get cleansed properly and regularly, bacteria can collect on the surface, get into our pores, grow and spread, causing all kinds of irritation and issues.

 

What Can Trigger or Worsen Acne?

Causes of Acne Collage

  1. Hormones – Lord, don’t we know it!  Anything from periods to puberty, pregnancy to menopause.  If something changes our hormone levels it can often trigger our skin to break out.
  2. Medication – For women, often going on (or off) the birth control pill can cause our skin to freak out on us.  But it’s not just a woman thing – steroids, lithium, and many other medications can also break us out.
  3. Diet – The yummiest foods may be the worst when it comes to acne triggers.  Greasy foods, dairy products, foods rich in carbs (breads, bagels, chips), sweets… “you are what you eat” takes on a new meaning in relation to pimples.
  4. Bad Products on Skin – I have had clients who would put Vaseline on their skin to “moisturize.”  I’ve seen people use baby oil as their makeup remover… all over their face.  There are a lot of ingredients that can exist in makeup, cleansers, moisturizers, sunscreen, etc that can cause nasty breakouts.  It’s a vicious cycle with makeup too, because when you get a breakout you want to cover it up, which means sometimes you are using even MORE of the product that is actually causing the breakout.

 

Bottom Line:

By knowing what acne is, what causes it, and what can trigger an outbreak, we can sometimes stop it before it even starts.  In future blogs in this series I am going to cover how to treat acne, whether you should pop that annoying zit or not, ingredients in cosmetics to look for and avoid, and what your skin care routine should be.  I hope you’ll hang with me, and let me know what you think about everything I’ve said!