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What’s in your makeup? 6 ingredients that cause your skin to break out

Categories : Makeup

Say you bought this amazing foundation everyone’s been going crazy over—but once you try it on, you suddenly find yourself breaking out. Why is that? More often than not, the culprit is usually one of the many ingredients and chemical compounds that your makeup is made of. If you are anything like me, you turn to the back of the product and try to read the ingredients to pinpoint the source of all your trouble, but it all sounds like gibberish. 

If you have ever been confused as to what exactly it is in your makeup that is causing you to break out, don’t worry: you are not alone. Here is a list of certain ingredients in makeup products that might be causing you to breakout: 

Butyl Stearate 

Butyl Stearate is an ester of butyl alcohol and stearic acid. This ingredient is found in a lot of liquid products. Mostly used as a non-greasy lubricant, it leaves a coating on the skin that gives it a soft appearance. This is both good and bad, as while it does hide your pores and fine lines and gives you that silky feeling, it also blocks the pores from releasing all their natural oils, which ultimately results in a swell of acne problems. 

Ethylhexyl Palmitate 

A colorless, odorless liquid derived from palm oil, Ethylhexyl Palmitate is is used as a skin conditioning emollient. Although this may sound great, like all the previous ingredients, it is also unfortunately comedogenic, meaning it can clog pores and cause breakouts. Usually, it makes the face feel too greasy, which makes your skin more susceptible to excess oils, and as a result, makes it the perfect environment for blackheads and pimples to grow and thrive. 

Bismuth Oxychloride 

Bismuth Oxychloride is a synthetic pearl additive usually found in mineral makeup. Unlike ingredients like talc or mica which are usually found in loose powders, Bismuth Oxychloride is a denser powder. Because of its density, it sticks on the skin better and gives a lot of coverage. Although it gives the skin a slick feel, shimmer finish, and good coverage, this is the same reason it can also cause breakouts. Because this ingredient is so dense it can block pores and restrict them from breathing, which ultimately results in pimples. A lot of people are allergic to Bismuth Oxychloride, so take extra care in that as well. So if you are using mineral makeup and breaking out– this might be the cause. 

makeup ingredients
What’s in your makeup?


Lanolin isn’t as commonly found compared to the other ingredients, but it’s good to look out for it just the same. Essentially, it is wax or oil extracted from lamb’s wool. If you are vegan, it might be a good idea to be aware of products containing it. Just like palm oil, it causes excess grease on the face that clogs pores and causes breakouts. There are two versions– synthetic lanolin and regular lanolin, which are mostly found in cream foundations. 


This is one of the most common sunscreen additives used to protect skin from harmful UV rays. There are two types of UV blockers: titanium dioxide, which is a white powder substance, and octinoxate, a synthetic version usually found in foundations. Weirdly enough, these specific ingredients have been found to be the culprit behind breakouts for a lot of people. 

Sodium Laureate Sulfate 

You know that feeling when you are washing your face and it starts to foam up, then you know your face is squeaky clean? Sodium Laureate Sulfate is responsible for that. As much as that is the best feeling ever, this can also strip your skin of its natural oils. This forces your body to produce even more oils and ironically enough leaves your skin looking the worse for wear. 

While these ingredients might seem scary, it’s not to say that they’re entirely harmful. It all comes down to each individual, and how they react to different kinds of makeup. Finding out what is causing your breakouts can be a challenge because you must isolate and pinpoint which product and ingredient is causing it. Their scientific names might sound intimidating, but don’t fret. Knowing what’s in your makeup is the first step in addressing, and ultimately neutralizing your breakouts. Best of luck!