10 Makeup Mistakes That Cause Acne & How to Fix Them

Acne breakouts and covering up said-breakouts can feel like one big vicious cycle. You wake up with a blemish, blend it in with cover-up, and find the trouble spot even worse by the time you get home. So you moisturize, apply an overnight serum, and carefully pat on foundation — but you could be committing serious makeup mistakes that cause acne along the way, aggravating everything even further.

Whether your irritated skin stems from hereditary genes or stressful events during the week, things like pore-clogging makeup, dirty tools and sponges, and not removing your cover-up before bedtime can escalate breakouts even more. (Even if you didn't have skin problems, these kinds of habits could give anyone a new zit.) But the good news is that even if you're already making these cosmetic mistakes, it's not hard to break out of your rut — and you don't have to give up your makeup to do it, either.

There are so many skin-saving tools and makeup products formulated with acne-prone skin in mind, and these things can make a big difference when creating a clear complexion. While keeping fingers off your face and cleansing skin as thoroughly as possible can be the best preventative step, upgrading your cosmetics collection with a few (or all) of these solutions can help prep your skin for even better makeup coverage.

You Spot-Treat Treating Your Acne When Your Skin Clears Up: Maintain Clear Skin With Lemongrass Oil Serum

Pure Body Naturals Face & Pore Minimizer Serum, $22, Amazon

When your skin clears up, don't streamline your beauty routine sans-acne treatment. This anti-acne serum and pore minimizer will help your face maintain its clear glow by shrinking pores before you apply liquid foundation. This means less clogging later, and regular use reduces overproduction of sebum. Salicylic acid is balanced by hydrating lemongrass oil, so that your skin will finally stay clear longer.

You Blend With Dirty Fingers: Vitamin E Makeup Sponges Nourish Skin & Apply Product Evenly

Pro Makeup Blender Set (5 Sponges), $15, Amazon

If you're not in the habit of washing your hands every time you blend in your makeup, these Vitamin E-infused makeup blenders will radically improve your beauty routine. Way better than the small wedges you see at the corner store, these five sponges come in shapes designed to reach every area, and their latex-free material will leave acne-prone skin feeling fresh with a perfectly blended finish.

You're Popping Your Zits: Use Sterile Extractors, Instead

Blackhead and Pimple Removing Kit, $11, Amazon

While popping your zits is never the answer, it's okay to admit you do it anyway — just as long as you're using the sterile blackhead and whitehead extracting tools to do so. This stainless steel set of six will cleanly remove blackheads, comedones, whiteheads, and anything else that erupted overnight. The set comes with an e-book, which properly explains how to safely extract breakouts so that you don't damage your skin.

Your Brushes Are Filled With Bacteria: Antibacterial Brushes Fight For Your Skin

10-Piece Makeup Brush Set, $15, Amazon

Still using run-of-the-mill makeup brushes? These antibacterial brushes are crafted with vegan synthetic bristles, which makes them nonporous and a hygienic solution to traditional animal hair brushes — no more brush-induced breakouts! The bristles will transfer your products right to your skin, too, without sucking it up into the brush for wasted product. 

You're Sleeping In Your Makeup: Remove With Time-Release Acne Cleanser

Murad Time-Release Acne Cleanser, $20, Amazon

The difference between eight extra hours under products and a makeup-free sound sleep are dramatic. This time-release acne cleanser is top-rated because of its gentle purifying action, which works into a soft lather to reach every area of layered cover-up you've applied. Tea tree leaf oil and willow bark extract soothe skin, and one user said she's used it to combat severe acne for two years — it was the first in 40 products she tried that finally stopped the acne cycle.

Your Light Coverage Still Clogs: Select Non-Comedogenic Mineral Powder


Bella Pierre Mineral Foundation, $20, Amazon

Skipping liquid foundation and then piling on the powder won't alleviate acne. Instead, this mineral powder is created to cover trouble skin that's specifically prone to clogged pores. It's completely free of synthetic preservatives, dyes, and other skin irritants, and this powder uses zinc and iron oxides to protect and nurture your angry skin.  

You Forget To Moisturize: Use Salicylic Acid Acne-Relief Lotion

InstaNatural Acne Moisturizer, $17, Amazon

Don't avoid moisturizing because you think it will dry up your oily skin. It can make things worse because your skin over-produces oils to compensate. This complexion-clearing moisturizer uses trusty salicylic acid to gently free your face from pore-clogging dead skin cells and other pollutants, refreshing skin for normal turnover (and a fresh canvas for makeup). Users say the creamy formula doesn't feel greasy on their face, and its "light velvety texture" absorbed immediately where needed.

You Never Wash Your Brushes: Remove Recurring Bacteria With Easy Spray-On Shampoo

Your dirty makeup brushes can keep infections present and thriving on your skin. Remove all chance of that with this purifying brush shampoo, which you can even throw into your makeup bag and go, thanks to its portable compact size. The easy application lets you spray the formula onto bristles, driving the cleansing agents deep into your brush to renew and refresh your makeup tools.

You Store Makeup Brushes In the Bottom of Your Makeup Bag: Separate Your Tools To Keep Them From Contamination

Detachable Foldable Brushes Organizer, $18, Amazon

Your makeup bag is a grimy place: Don't subject your tools to its bacteria-filled corners. Instead, this brush organizer keeps your tools from contaminating each other. A sleek, translucent base is sturdy and blends into any surface, while rubber slips in the organizer's surface create custom-sized holders for any size tool you're using. This piece also doubles as a hygienic brush drying rack, when you store your tools upside-down. 

You Use Pore-Clogging Coverage: Oil-Free, Medicated Foundation Treats & Conceals

Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup, $25, Amazon

An acne breakout doesn't mean you have to forego your regular makeup routine. This liquid foundation is formulated with medicated ingredients that treat your skin — working to heal it while providing full coverage. Its creamy mixture is lightweight, won't irritate sensitive skin, and users say it rubs into the skin just like a moisturizing lotion, with no chance of clogged pores later.

Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.


Images: Fotolia (1); Amazon (10)

Must Reads