© Xenia Bogarova

Paula’s Choice: How do I know if a product causes me an acne outbreak?

Here are some guidelines to help you find the products that are least likely to cause impurities.

In general, this cannot be predicted. Most of us who struggle with acne outbreaks have at some point used a product that was claimed not to cause any outbreaks, but this did happen during use. Why is that so hard to predict? Because it is so difficult to judge which ingredients and which concentration of these substances cause outbreaks – and this also varies from person to person. This means that the very products that cause acne outbreaks in you may not do so in friends or siblings, even if they have the same skin type or skin care routine.

And then the concentration thing: In most cases, a skin care product contains only a very small amount of an ingredient that does not have the same effect as the 100% concentration that may have been used in laboratory tests to determine if the ingredient causes acne outbreaks. In addition, there are thousands of ingredients to consider, many of which have never been studied to determine whether they (or different combinations of these) cause outbreaks, have no effect in this respect or make outbreaks worse. The lists of ingredients that should either be used or avoided on the basis of their assumed pore clogging properties are well-intentioned but not helpful in practice.

Avoid products with a thick, overly creamy texture and all products available in pencil form. The ingredients used to give skin care or make-up products a thick or solid texture are more likely to clog pores. Products containing a gel, light serum, liquid or liquid lotion are much less likely to clog pores or cause acne outbreaks.

Oils of all kinds do not really clog the pores, but they make your skin feel oily. In addition, there is the excess oil that your skin produces, promoting the problems that cause more impurities.

Avoid products containing all kinds of irritants, such as alcohol, menthol, mint, eucalyptus, camphor, lemon, grapefruit or lime as well as natural or synthetic fragrances. Irritation stimulates oil production at the base of the pore and this reddens the skin, worsens red spots and damages the natural healing power of your skin.

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