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What Is Acne Cosmetica?

By Geisha A. Legazpi
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Acne cosmetica is a breakout of small pimple-like bumps on the face or any other skin area as a result of the application of pore-clogging cosmetic products. Unlike the more common types of acne, there is no redness and swelling associated with acne cosmetica. This mild condition, however, may cause the skin to become uneven, although it does not leave any blemishes on the skin. While the effects of acne cosmetica may not be damaging, most women find it annoying; cosmetics are designed to enhance beauty and hide imperfections, rather than create them. Those with acne may use cosmetic products to hide a pimply appearance, but some cosmetics may clog pores further, resulting in more breakouts.

The most common types of acne are characterized by the eruption of large pimples, notably on the face; these are mainly due to clogged pores. Acne most often affects teenagers because it is during puberty when androgen production is increased, triggering the oil glands of the skin to secrete more sebum, or oily matter. Though both sexes have androgens, they are actually substances that influence the production of male traits. More sebum secretions accumulate then clog pores. The pores then swell into pimples, or elevated inflammation of the skin.

While acne usually disappears in adulthood, acne cosmetica may appear at virtually any age. The development of acne cosmetica depends on a person’s cosmetic use, rather than his or her reproductive development during puberty. Cosmetic acne typically appears on the face, but may appear on other skin areas as well, as cosmetics can be applied on virtually any area of the skin. The use of makeup and acne development, however, are usually connected because the face is covered by the body's most delicate skin. It should, however, be noted that the use of cosmetics does not always result in the development of acne cosmetica because only pore-clogging cosmetic products, which are also called "comedogenic" cosmetics, can trigger this condition.

The link between the use of cosmetics and acne, however, should not be underestimated even if the effects are not too harsh. Still, the rule of thumb is to prioritize health over beauty. Personal hygiene should always be practiced especially if the use of cosmetics cannot be avoided. Medical intervention is necessary if a person’s acne cosmetica worsens and develops into a severe type of acne.

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Discussion Comments
By Wisedly33 — On Sep 08, 2014

@Scrbblchick -- I laughed at "first world problem." You are so right. People don't know where their next meal is coming from and we're griping about how our makeup gives us pimples. It is quite ludicrous.

I get your annoyance, though. I don't usually have problems with base, but cream blush will do it every single time. I love doing blush with a stick, but something about it will make the pimples pop up in a heartbeat. Even the stuff that's supposed to be non-comedogenic messes me up.

I just stick to powder blushes, and usually the all minerals kind, and I'm OK. That's just life in the first world, I suppose.

By Scrbblchick — On Sep 08, 2014

Few things are more annoying than dropping $10 on a bottle of foundation and then finding out it breaks out my skin. Massively annoying. I realize, however, that this is most definitely a first world problem. Still, I wish it didn't happen.

I do best with certain brands of base, and BB cream. BB cream usually isn't too heavy, so it doesn't clog my pores like some foundation does.

I've given away nearly full bottles of foundation because they messed with my fussy skin. I hate it, but at least someone else is able to use the makeup.

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