hormonal acne

10 Acne-Causing Ingredients to Avoid for Acne Prone Skin

You may know that certain ingredients in skin care products cause you to breakout, and that you should avoid them at all costs. But how do you know which ingredients are aggravating your  skin?

We've put together a list of the seven worst offenders for causing acne. Start with this list, and avoid these ingredients if you want clear and healthy, breakout-free skin.

Related: 5 Ingredients to Avoid for Sensitive Skin

What is Acne Prone Skin (& How to Know if You Have it)

Several factors may contribute to someone having acne-prone skin. These can include genetics, hormones, and certain skincare products. 

Those with acne-prone skin might find their breakouts more resistant to treatment than others. You may also need to use stronger products to control your breakouts.

To find out if you have acne-prone skin, you can do a few things to confirm it. First, pay attention to your family history. If your parents or siblings struggled with acne, there's a good chance you will too. 

You can also consult with a dermatologist. They can help determine whether your breakouts are due to acne-prone skin or other factors. 

The 3 Difference Types of Acne

There are three types of acne: comedones, papules and pustules, and cysts. 

Comedones are small, flesh-colored bumps typically forming on the forehead and chin. Papules are small, red bumps that can be painful to the touch. Pustules are similar to papules but contain white or yellow pus. Cysts are large, painful bumps that are filled with pus.

Managing skin’s pH levels can help lessen the chance of future breakouts. Come shop with us to find the perfect product to help reduce acne by helping to restore and balance your skin’s pH levels. 

Possible Causes of Acne


There are several reasons why people experience acne. Below are some of these reasons:

Hormones and Excess Sebum

When hormone levels rise, it triggers an increase in sebum production. Sebum is an oily substance that helps to keep skin moisturized. However, too much sebum can cause pores to become clogged, forming pimples and blackheads. 

Hormonal changes are often the culprit behind teenage acne breakouts. However, adults can also suffer from hormonal acne, especially women going through menopause or taking birth control pills. Stress and certain medications can also cause the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum than usual.

Dead Skin Cells

Dead skin cells can play a significant role in causing acne. This is because when skin cells build up on the surface, it is difficult for new cells to reach the surface. 

The blockage in the pores causes breakouts. Additionally, dead skin cells can irritate skin and trigger inflammation.


greasy foods



Studies show certain foods can trigger inflammation and increase sebum production, leading to breakouts. Foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates are guilty of causing acne.

Related: Sebum: Definition, Causes, and Remedies

10 Ingredients Those With Acne Prone Skin Should Avoid

Those with acne-prone skin should avoid certain ingredients in their skincare products. Here, we list eleven ingredients to avoid if you have acne-prone skin:

1. Denatured and Stearyl Alcohol 

Denatured and stearyl alcohol are common ingredients in toners and astringents, but can dry and irritate the skin. Skin produces more sebum when it's too dry, which can cause more breakouts.

2. Fragrance

Many skincare products contain synthetic fragrances, which can irritate the skin. These fragrances typically contain alcohol, and can also dry your skin out. Avoid products with fragrance.

3. Sulfates

Sulfates are commonly found in cleansers and shampoos. However, they can strip oils from the skin and leave it feeling dry, similar to how alcohol dries skin. This can compound the drying effect leading to your skin overproducing sebum and the formation of acne.

4. Parabens

Parabens are often in skincare products. However, they can cause irritation and inflammation, so it's best to avoid them if you have acne-prone skin.

5. Oxybenzone 

Oxybenzone is a UV blocker that is commonly found in sunscreens, foundations and skincare products. However, it can clog pores and exacerbate acne breakouts. Choose UV-protection that contains titanium dioxide or zinc oxide instead.

6. Artificial Colors

Artificial colors are often used in skincare products to give them a specific appearance. However, these colors can irritate the skin, so it's best to avoid them if you have acne-prone skin. Instead, avoid products with unusual colors, and choose products that are labeled "hypoallergenic" instead.

7. Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is often used as a moisturizer in skincare products because it is inexpensive and readily available. However, it can clog pores. Seek out other less-comedogenic oils such as jojoba oil or almond oil instead.

8. Lanolin

Lanolin helps keep the skin soft and hydrated. However, lanolin can also clog pores and contribute to breakouts. It can be challenging to remove from the skin, leading to further irritation. For those with acne-prone skin, it is best to stick to non-comedogenic products that will not clog pores or irritate the skin, and avoid this ingredient when possible.

9. Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter is commonly used in body lotions and creams because it's an excellent moisturizer. However, if you have acne-prone skin, avoiding products this ingredient is best, because cocoa butter is a heavy, oily substance that can clog pores and lead to breakouts. In addition, many products that contain cocoa butter also include other ingredients that can trigger acne, such as fragrances and preservatives.

Related: Shea Butter: Benefits and Uses


red makeup


10. D & C Red

Another ingredient those with acne-prone skin should avoid at all costs is D & C Red. This synthetic dye is often used in cosmetics to give products a pink or red hue, but it can also cause irritation and inflammation. In addition to causing irritation, D & C Red can increase the skin's sensitivity to sunlight, making sunburns more likely.

Keep track of the products you use on your skin. If certain products seem to cause or worsen your breakouts, they're probably not suitable for you.

Hope for Acne Prone Skin

You should avoid these eleven ingredients if you suffer from acne-prone skin. If, however, after avoiding these ingredients, you still experience frequent acne breakouts, you should bring this up with a doctor or dermatologist to rule out any other reasons you may be struggling with acne-prone skin.