Derm DMs: Are Your Skin-Care Products Causing Breakouts?

December 04, 2020
Samantha Holender
By: Samantha Holender | by L'Oréal
Derm DMs: Are Your Skin-Care Products Causing Breakouts?

I love trying skin care products just as much as the next beauty lover, but when a pimple or cyst creeps up just days after incorporating a new product, my skepticism sets in. Could my new serum or moisturizer be causing a breakout? Should I stick it out in hopes the acne flare subsides or say a permanent goodbye to my routine’s newest addition? To find out how to tell if my skin care is responsible for the new inflamed friends on my face, I turned to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Morgan Rabach of L.M. Medical in New York City. 

How to Tell If Your Skin Care Is Responsible for Your Breakout 

It’s important to keep in mind that your acne could be caused by factors such as hormonal changes or maskne. But if you recently added a new skin-care product into your routine and found an out-of-the-blue breakout either the next day or in the week following, it’s a good indication your skin care is to blame. “A breakout from skin care usually will happen right away for a few reasons,” says Dr. Rabach. “The product may have an ingredient that is comedogenic, meaning it clogs the pores, it could be overdrying the skin if it contains harsh alcohols or drying acids, or you could be allergic to one of the ingredients which can create inflammation.” 

What If the Product Is Non-Comedogenic? 

While looking for products that are non-comedogenic is a good idea, especially if you have oily or acne-prone skin, it doesn't guarantee that the product won’t cause a breakout. “While non-comedogenic means there is not an ingredient, like oil, that will in and of itself clog the pores, you can still break out for other reasons,” says Dr. Rabach. “Irritation, allergy, interactions with other products, changes in pH and overdrying the skin can all cause acne.” 

Will the Breakout Go Away With Time?

If you experience a breakout the day or first week after using a new product, chances are it’s irritating your skin, causing inflammation and should be taken out of your routine. There is one exception to the rule, however. Some actives can cause the skin to purge, meaning pimples will come to the surface, when initially introduced to a skin-care routine. “Ingredients like retinols, salicylic acid, alpha- and beta-hydroxy-acids will help slough off dead skin and this may lead to an initial purge as your skin gets used to the new active ingredients,” says Dr. Rabach. “I would give the skin a month to acclimate.” 

Typically, after around four weeks, the purge should stop, your acne should regulate and you’ll notice the benefits of the product. If you continue to experience problems, make sure to consult with a board-certified dermatologist and discontinue use. Want to try a retinol? We suggest the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel

Design: Hannah Packer

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