June 3, 2011

Is Your Breakout Prone Skin Caused by Cosmetics?

Have you ever switched to a new facial cleanser and then suddenly broke out? Well, that happened to me recently. I decided it was time to determine which ingredients were actually bothering my skin, so that I could avoid them in future purchases. Turns out that there are like a gazillion ingredients that can cause breakouts! And even "acne" products contain them! Isopropyl palmitate is in a lot of moisturizers, and it can tend to be very comedogenic (likely to produce cosmetic acne). And sodium chloride is in many shampoos, which can get on your face in the shower.

I have compiled a list of both comedogenic and irritating ingredients. They are ranked on a scale of 0-5 (0 having no effect, 5 having a bad effect). If you have breakout prone skin, it would be best to avoid 3's and above.

Acetone 0 5
Acetylated Lanolin 4 0
Algae Extract 4 2
Almond Oil20
Ascorbyl Palmitate20
Benzoic Acid23
Butyl Stearate30
Capric Acid22
Caprylic Acid13
Cetearyl Alcohol22
Cetyl Alcohol22
Cocoa Butter40
Coconut Butter40
Coconut Oil41
Colloidal Sulfur34
Corn Oil30
D&C Red # 1730
D&C Red # 1920
D&C Red # 2130
D&C Red # 330
Evening Primrose Oil22
Glyceryl Stearate SE32
Isocetyl Stearate50
Isopropyl Alcohol04
Isopropyl Isostearate50
Isopropyl Myristate53
Isopropyl Palmitate40
Jojoba Oil20
Lanolin Alcohol20
Laureth 2330
Laureth 454
Lauric Acid41
Myristic Acid30
Octyl Palmitate41
Octyl Stearate55
PEG 75 Lanolin32
PEG 16 Lanolin43
PEG 8 Stearate31
Palmitic Acid20
Propylene Glycol Monostearate40
Sodium Chloride53
Sodium Laureth Sulfate32
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate52
Soybean Oil30
Stearic Acid20
Stearyl Alcohol22
Tocopherol (Vitamin E)22
Vitamin A Palmitate21
Wheat Germ Oil 52

This is by no means a complete list, though. Plenty of others have compiled lists of their own that you may want to consult. A couple examples are Savvy Skin and Beauty Mag Online. Hopefully this list saves you lots of time, money and frustration next time you're in the cosmetics aisle!


  1. Anonymous7/05/2012

    Coconut oil? Really I've been going organic lately and use coconut oil to remove my makeup.

  2. It's true. Coconut oil can be comedogenic for some people. However, everyone has different skin that reacts very uniquely to food, stress, and topicals. If it works for you, then don't worry about it!