Good Foundation, Better Skin: Makeup Tips for Clear Skin

Makeup powders, brushes and mascara wand on table

Good Foundation, Better Skin: Makeup Tips for Clear Skin

In a fix, makeup may seem like the perfect cure to an acne flare-up. Dab on some concealer or foundation and go. Instant redness relief.

Depending on your makeup, however, you may be aggravating your acne even further. Oil-based makeup, although less common today, is known to be comedogenic, as it tends to clog pores and cause acne breakouts. Additionally, if you wear makeup daily, it’s crucial to remove it correctly to minimize breakouts.

We’ve outlined the relationship between makeup and acne, certain ingredients to look for, and how to cleanse skin effectively below.

Wearing makeup over acne-prone skin

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) points out that makeup can directly cause acne, a condition known as acne cosmetica. Acne cosmetica causes tiny bumps on your face, usually appearing on the chin, forehead or cheeks. Unfortunately, acne cosmetica can take time to appear. Bumps from acne cosmetica can crop up anywhere from a few days to six months, says AAD.

As you probably already know, putting makeup over heavily-blemished skin can make your acne appear worse. By layering heavy makeup over compromised skin, this, in turn, creates a damaging cycle; makeup can further irritate skin, which leads to more makeup coverage.

Addressing what’s in your makeup

Anything that touches your skin, whether it’s a hair, makeup or skin product, should be oil-free and non-comedogenic, or a product that won’t cause an acne breakout. Your best plan of action should be to audit the entirety of your products for these terms:

  • Oil-free
  • Won’t clog pores
  • Non-comedogenic

If it doesn’t have these terms, you may want to consider switching it out, especially if you haven’t seen relief from your acne. Still unsure if your products are irritating your skin? Read reviews! If others are complaining about their skin after using a product, it’s a safe bet it’ll irritate yours, too.

Cleaning your brushes

Be diligent in cleaning your brushes weekly. Brushes can harbor acne-causing bacteria, dead skin cells and oil, which is often transferred back onto your skin during use.

We strongly advise against sharing your makeup brushes. Although acne isn’t contagious, cold sores and pink eye are. Using shared tools can encourage these diseases, as well as the bacteria, dead skin and oil, to spread to your skin.

Cleansing skin after makeup

We often focus our thoughts on application, but it’s important to consider the removal. How are you cleansing your skin? If you’re not completely removing your makeup every night (or worse, sleeping in it), you’re putting your skin at risk of further breakouts.

No matter what you use, whether it’s an oil, cold cream or a wipe, take extra care to completely remove all traces before going to bed. Depending on the amount you wear, you may benefit from double-cleansing, or removing makeup and then following up with a second cleanser. Double-cleansing ensures your skin is completely clean and ready for the next step in your skincare routine, such as moisturizers or serums.

Seeking relief with Cumberland Skin

If you’re not seeing relief from your acne by changing your habits, we encourage you to make an appointment with us. We’ll diagnose your problems and offer a roadmap for better skin through lifestyle changes and, if necessary, topical medications.

By trusting a dermatologist, you can ensure you’re laying down the best foundation for your makeup: clean and clear skin.


Cumberland Skin Surgery and Dermatology provides effective, compassionate general dermatology, skin cancer surgery and cosmetic dermatology solutions for our patients throughout the Southeast. With offices in Hermitage, Lebanon, Brentwood and Hendersonville, Tennessee, we’re your destination for high-caliber skincare. Visit our website at cumberlandskin.com or give us a call today at 615-257-7128.