Your cart
Close Alternative Icon
FREE SHIPPING on orders $60+ // Accepting new clients! BOOK NOW > FREE SHIPPING on orders $60+ // Accepting new clients! BOOK NOW >

Is Product Acne the Secret Cause of Your Breakouts?

Is Product Acne the Secret Cause of Your Breakouts?

As acne sufferers, are all too familiar with the term hormonal acne. Those large, painful, cystic breakouts that persist for days and flare up right before a woman's menstrual cycle. Ouch and no thanks!

But another type of acne exists. It is pervasive, extremely prevalent, and basically unknown to the majority of the acne population. And over 90% of my new clients are suffering from it.

I call it product acne.

Product acne (a.k.a. acne cosmetica) is caused by comedogenic ingredients in skincare or makeup. These ingredients are extremely prevalent in the beauty industry. There are over 120+ comedogenic ingredients that can cause product acne for people prone to getting breakouts. And if you have never checked your cosmetics before, chances are you are unknowingly using comedogenic products.

Here are some signs you may be experiencing product acne:

  • Tiny little whiteheads covering your cheeks, forehead, t-zone or full face
  • Texture problems with lots of surface-level clogs clustered together
  • Not red, painful, inflamed, or buried deep under the skin

The first step to healing your breakouts is determining what kind of acne you have. Most of my clients experience a bit of both hormonal and product acne.  Below you can see a hormonal acne picture compared with comedogenic acne. To see some more hormonal acne pictures, you can review my results page.




1. Check every cosmetic product you use for comedogenic ingredients. 

Download my Official 120+ Comedogenic Ingredients List and start cleaning out your skincare. It's basically your own little comedogenic ingredient checker and with it you can find your own non comedogenic foundation and other products that won't break you out! Checking your skincare and makeup is a bit of a homework task, but doing so will save you time, money, and clogged pores.


2. Add in acne active + exfoliating products. Moving these bumpies through can take your body significant time on its own. I recommend my Power Duo which is a therapeutic combination of mandelic acid and benzoyl peroxide to clear those clogged pores.


3. Get extractions from an acne professional.
Extractions can help, but an acne specialist is KEY. Why? Most estheticians use comedogenic products without knowing it that can actually cause your skin to breakout more after a facial (yeah, that's not always a purge, just wrong products for your skin!). If you're in San Francisco Bay Area, you can come see me! Otherwise have a good sit down with your estie about comedogenic ingredients.




Q: How long can it take before product acne shows up?

A: Product acne can take as little as a day or up to several weeks or months to show up. It can happen right away or take a little longer to become visible to the human eye.

Q: Where does product acne show up?

A: Anywhere on the face or upper areas of the chest and back. I have seen clients with full face product acne while others just get some clusters in the t-zone, forehead, chin, or cheeks.

Q: Why am I getting product acne but my friend/mom/cousin is using the same product and has no breakouts?

A: Not everyone is sensitive to acne. Some people struggle with dry skin or inflamed skin, or maybe they're blessed with beautiful skin but have difficulty digesting. Just because someone else isn't breaking out doesn't mean a product is safe for you. Everyone's skin (and body) is a little bit unique and different!

Q: How do I know that a cosmetic isn't going to give me product acne?

A: You have to check for comedogenic ingredients every time. I know it's a little bit of a pain, but trust me - it will save you time, money, and headache in the end to do a little research on your skincare.

To make life easier for you, I made an entire skincare line to help solve this problem! Acne-safe, non-toxic, and I have refined it through working with over 1,300 acne cilents. Check out my Skin Nutritious holistic acne skincare here. And secondly, I created an Acne-Safe Makeup and Sunscreen list where I have pre-vetted over 80+ products that are non-comedogenic. 


I hope this helps clear up some deep skin truths! Product acne is both easy to get and easy to solve. We all just need the right knowledge to get there! Be in touch below if I can help you further.


In love, health, and community,

Elise May, CN + LE, is a holistic esthetician, acne nutritionist, and founder of Skin Nutritious. Since 2009, she has helped over 1,300 clients overcome acne with a unique blend of coaching, treatments, and holistic skincare

Work with Elise. 
In San Francisco - book online here.
• Worldwide Clear Skin eConsults book here.




The entire contents of this website are intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Elise May, Skin Nutritious, and her community. Skin Nutritious encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Shop Acne Skincare

Clear Skin Courses

Work With Elise