Is your toothpaste, lip balm, shampoo, hair gel, shaving cream, or makeup acne friendly? If you struggle with breakouts and you don't know the answer to this, you should. Actually, you should even know whether or not your partner's products are acne-friendly if you are prone to breakouts. Comedogenicity refers to the tendency of an ingredient to clog pores and every product you use that is applied directly to your face or just close to your face can spread and cause breakouts. Forehead breakouts? Check your hair products. Chin and mouth breakouts? Check you and your partner's toothpaste and lip products. I often tell my clients that learning to determine whether a product is acne friendly or not is one of the most important ways to manage their acne long term. Unfortunately, regulations on cosmetic labeling are relatively loose and companies can label their products "non-comedogenic" whether it is true or not. Acne sufferers in particular tend to get caught up in marketing traps by purchasing products with meaningless labels like "oil-free" and "deep pore cleansing" that end up making their condition worse. Just like choosing food at the grocery store, the only way to really know what a product is about is by being your own detective. Take a screenshot of this list so next time you go to buy a product that touches your face or a body part connected to your face (skincare products, shampoo, conditioner, hair styling products, makeup, lip products, shaving cream, blush, bronzer, eyebrow pencil, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc), you can the ingredient list.
Here are a few additional things to keep in mind when checking products:
- If a product contains the world oil in it's name or if an oil is listed in the top 3 ingredients, avoid it. Fragrance and essential oils are generally okay in minimal amounts so if they are listed towards the end of the ingredient list, they should be okay. That being said, if the product is something that will have contact with your face for long periods of time (like detergent on pillowcases), we recommend avoiding any fragrance at all.
- Always check the ingredients on the actual product you purchase. It doesn't matter if you checked the ingredients online or if you have been purchasing a product for 5 years. Products get reformulated all of the time and nobody sends out a memo to let us know. It is also common for companies to reformulate a product without updating the ingredient list on their website. So get in the habit of always checking the ingredient list on the physical package of every product you buy.
- The frequency and duration that you have a product on or near your face is irrelevant. If a product contains a pore-clogging ingredient and you are triggered by comedogenic ingredients then remember the four square rule: it only takes one ingredient in one product to touch your face one time for one second to trigger a breakout.