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5 skincare ingredients to avoid if you have acne

When it comes to selecting skincare and makeup, it’s not a ‘one product fits all’ situation. What may work wonders on your friend, might do the opposite on your skin. Not all skin types and conditions are the same — those with sensitive or acne-prone skin may tend to find this part a little hard to overcome. And with the abundance of selection in store — which is great in many ways — it may not exactly be helpful in narrowing down the list of what you should be using.

We speak to Janice Mak, Dermalogica senior trainer for EIG Dermal Wellness (M) Sdn Bhd, to get to the bottom of this. These are five skincare ingredients you should avoid if you have acne. Read on to find out more.

Artificial fragrances

Artificial fragrances, which can be commonly found in any skincare products, are mixtures of various chemicals that are produced in laboratories. They may sometimes contain a small percentage of essential oil or natural extract, but that can be easily overwhelmed by the negative effects of the chemicals. Artificial fragrances can increase acne infection, skin sensitisation and photosensitivity. When purchasing, consider products that are labelled “unscented” and “fragrance-free”, and those that are naturally derived or plant-based.

Artificial colouring

Another common ingredient found in any skincare product, some of these artificial dyes, which are coal tar derivatives, have exhibited highly comedogenic and acnegenic properties. There are absolutely no benefits coming from artificial colouring as they are mainly added to make the product more appealing to the consumer.


Derived from the word ‘Lana’ for wool and ‘oleum’ for oil, lanolin is a fatty substance obtained from sheep’s wool. While it is a known emollient with moisturising properties, it can have skin-clogging capabilities, triggering the cycle of breakouts. This ingredient is commonly found in most moisturisers. No matter which skin type, never skip the moisturiser. But for those with acne-prone skin, consider gel, oil-free or water-based moisturisers that are light on the skin.

Mineral oils

Mineral oil is an occlusive — which means something that physically blocks water loss in the stratum corneum. It’s used in many products, but commonly found in makeup removers, however, it has been shown to cause and exacerbate acne. It may be a key ingredient in locking in moisture, but because of its barrier-like effect, it can cause pores to be clogged.

Isopropyl Myristate

You can find Isopropyl Myristate in moisturisers because they act as an emollient, thickening agent, or lubricant for beauty products. It gives the texture a slicker, sheer feel instead of an oily one because of its ability to reduce the greasiness that is caused by high oil content. It sounds great, but Isopropyl Myristate is a creepy crawler as it enters your follicles just to irritate them. They are considered comedogenic and acnegenic because they cause blackheads.

Jolin Lee
Unlike most modern-day millennials, Jolin does not need caffeine or alcohol to power through the day (and night). Her eye for beauty is as sharp as her eyeliner flick, and she can spot your unblended eye makeup from a mile away.