The Acne Diaries: Volume 4 - Unraveling The Mystery Of Non-Comedogenic Make-up

The Acne Diaries: Volume 4 - Unraveling The Mystery Of Non-Comedogenic Make-up

Another beauty buzzword or something that could change your life? We get the lowdown on acne-friendly foundations...

Wearing make-up when you have acne can get you into a vicious cycle.  You have a spot so you want to cover it up but if you cover it up with foundation you get more spots then you need more foundation and get more spots….aaaaahhhhhh!

Even at a time when you don’t have spots, your make-up can trigger a breakout – oh the curse of acne prone skin!

So is the only hope to go make-up free?   A decade ago maybe, but now we have really great non-comedogenic foundations to choose from.

Hang on, what does non-comedogenic actually mean?

To understand that you first need to understand how spots form on the skin. ‘For skin with acne, there is an overproduction of cells in the stratum corneum which is the outermost layer of the skin and is composed of biologically "dead" cells’ explains expert Dermatologist Dr Murad.  ‘These excess dead cells combine with sebum (the skin's own natural oil) to form comedones - the pore plugs that are the defining element of acne.’

So how do non-comedogenic make-up products help with acne?

According to London Based Cosmetic Dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting, switching to non-comedogenic make-up is key to avoiding a breakout, ‘non-comedogenic products are formulated with ingredients which won’t encourage skin cells to stick to each other and clog pores, the way every spot starts out.’

Problem solved? Unfortunately not necessarily.  Due to the fact that 'non-comedogenic' is not a highly regulated term, pretty much any brand could plaster it on the front of their make-up product.   There is still a large amount of sifting and investigation that you have to do. 

As a rule of thumb, says Paula Begoun, the founder of Paula’s choice, a no nonsense website that decodes the buzzwords of the beauty industry, you need to look for foundation that has a liquid, gel, serum or thin, water-based consistency, as they are less likely to clog pores or worsen breakouts.

So what about natural and organic products, are they non-comedogenic?  ‘No, unfortunately not always' says Dr Bunting. ‘Coconut oil, for instance, is ‘natural’ but highly comedogenic.   I think its best to stick to brands that routinely test for non-comedogencity like the French pharmacy ones eg Bioderma, La Roche Posay and Avene.'

Dr Buntings top 3 non-comedogenic make-up brands…..

Vichy Dermablend  -InStyle loves the Corrective Stick Foundation (£10.05; Feelunique) because it’s great for targeting small areas of break out like around the chin or nose.  The formula melts seamlessly into the skin.  Plus it’s brilliant to throw in your handbag for touch ups.

Nars – InStyle loves the All Day Luminous Weight Foundation (£32,  because it’s a beautiful foundation that actually looks like real skin, not a mask.

Armani – InStyle loves the Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Foundation (£40; because it’s is seriously lightweight but still packs a punch in terms of coverage.

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