Updated: Feb 25
It is important to figure out the root cause of your acne. Do you know how to tell if your breakouts are hormonal, triggered by diet, or caused by makeup and skincare?
Hormonal acne will be cystic, red, inflamed, and painful.
Breakouts from topical products are typically not painful, and will usually appear as small white bumps.
Topical products can trigger acne by either containing comedogenic (pore-clogging ingredients), an allergy to an ingredient, or by poorly formulated products that weaken the skin barrier (click here for my blog post on why the pH of skincare is so important).
You may have heard the term "skin purging" when it comes to skincare products causing acne. Skin purging occurs when the skin cell turnover rate increases. Your skin starts shedding skin cells faster than normal, and any acne that was hiding under the surface appears on top. It is important to note that the only ingredients that are capable of causing a “purge” are those that exfoliate the skin. This will include retinols, alpha hydroxy acids (AHA’s), salicylic acid, and L-ascorbic acid (not vitamin C derivatives that do not exfoliate). Skin purging is temporary, and dermatologists generally say it should resolve within 4-6 weeks. If you are breaking out from a product that does not exfoliate your skin, it is not a purge. Your skin just simply does not like that product, and you should stop using it.
The location of your break-outs may also be an indicator of an internal issue. Check out our blog post on the ancient Chinese art of face mapping to learn more.
- Foods, supplements, and beverages that commonly trigger acne in certain individuals:
Dairy (includes whey protein, yogurt, and cheese.)
Gluten (but even highly processed gluten-free alternatives may trigger acne)
Sugar (This is a big one!)
Biotin (vitamin B7)
Food-intolerances and sensitivities can also lead to breakouts, and these can be linked to any food. The only way to find out for sure if you have intolerances or sensitivities is to have a test done through a doctor.
If you suspect that your breakouts are caused by makeup-up or skincare, take a look at the ingredients lists of your products - it may be due to one or more of these comedogenic (pore-clogging) ingredients:
Ascorbyl palmitate (vitamin C ester)
Beeswax (also known as cera alba)
D&C red dyes (common in makeup)
Glyceryl stearate SE
PEG 100 distearate
PEG 150 distearate
PEG 8 stearate
Tocopherol (Vitamin E) if over 2%
And unless highly diluted with an acne safe oil, these plant oils may be comedogenic for some:
Apricot kernel oil
Camellia seed oil
Carrot seed oil
Chia seed oil
Cotton seed oil
Date seed oil
Evening primrose oil
Flaxseed (Linseed) oil
Macadamia nut oil
Palm kernel oil
Papaya seed oil
Red palm oil
Sandalwood seed oil
Soybean oil (highly comedogenic even when diluted)
Wheat germ oil (highly comedogenic even when diluted)
To make things a little easier for you, here are some plant oils with a low chance of being comedogenic:
Abyssinian seed oil
Black currant seed oil
Blackberry seed oil
Blueberry seed oil
Castor seed oil
Cloudberry seed oil
Cucumber seed oil
Goji berry seed oil
Hemp seed oil
Kalahari watermelon seed oil
Meadowfoam seed oil
Pomegranate seed oil
Prickly pear seed oil
Red Raspberry seed oil
Rosehip seed oil
Safflower oil (High linoleic variety)
Sea buckthorn oil
Strawberry seed oil
Sunflower seed oil (High linoleic variety)
Watermelon seed oil
But with that being said, there are certain types of acne (fungal acne, also known as malassezia) that are not able to tolerate any plant oil. If you suspect you have fungal acne, I recommend speaking with a dermatologist to determine the best treatment plan for you.
J E Fulton Jr, S R Pay, J E Fulton 3rd (1984). Comedogenicity of current therapeutic products, cosmetics, and ingredients in the rabbit ear: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6229554/
While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained on this site is obtained from reliable sources, Sophia Dee Skincare is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. All information in this site is provided "as is", with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information.