Wait—Can Cream Blush Cause Breakouts?

Woman with closed eyes wearing blush and eyeshadow

Javier Díez / Stocksy

If you’re experiencing breakouts or acne, the truth is you’re most likely going to want to identify the cause sooner than later. While breakouts are a common, normal part of life and nothing to be ashamed of, it’s important to get to the root of the problem in order to prevent acne going forward.

There are several theories out there as to what causes acne, but we decided to take a deeper look into one that's come up previously—cream makeup products, with targeted emphasis on the use of cream blush. We know the products we use on a daily basis might contribute to the health of our skin, but does cream blush cause acne, and if so, what can be done about it? Ahead, we spoke with board-certified dermatologists Alexandra Snodgrass, MD, and Jessica J. Krant, MD, to get the intel on everything related to this topic. 

Meet the Expert

  • Alexandra Snodgrass, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist who practices medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology, emphasizing aesthetic dermatology, at the Naderi Center.
  • Jessica J. Krant, MD, MPH, is a New York board-certified dermatologic surgeon with 20 years of experience providing medical and cosmetic dermatological treatments and procedures.

Can Cream Blush Really Cause Acne?

We start by asking the most important, straightforward question: Can cream blush cause acne? According to Snodgrass, “Any comedogenic (oil-containing) product can cause breakouts. Often cream formulations contain comedogenic, or acne-causing, ingredients to allow them to blend into the skin more effectively.” While effective blending is great, we want to avoid giving breakouts a spotlight to shine, which is why it’s important to check the ingredients of your cream products before purchasing or using them. The suggested way to do this is to read the labels on products or research the ingredients online.

Krant reiterated the importance of ingredients by mentioning that “non-comedogenic products are always best for facial skin, where possible.” While comedogenic cream blush formulas can contribute to breakouts, Krant goes on to explain some key causes of acne, stating, “Acne is a complex medical condition caused by four things: hormones, inflammation, bacterial overgrowth, and retention of dead skin cells that clog pores and allow buildup in inflamed pores. It can be difficult to get a handle on it because many products on the market only address one, or possibly two, of the triggers.” 

Now that makes sense. Acne is a complex issue, and it’s hard to pinpoint one specific cause of acne, yet doing thorough research and paying attention to what we use on our skin can help. “Choosing the right cosmetic ingredients helps prevent breakouts, and using thoughtfully formulated acne products keeps your skin healthy and more tolerant of makeup whether you’re actively breaking out or not,” says Krant. There's a lot of non-comedogenic options to choose from, such as these cream blushes from Bodyography.

What Blush Ingredients Should Be Avoided?

Some common oils that might clog pores and be considered comedogenic are coconut, flaxseed, palm, and soybean oils, to name a few. If you see these ingredients in cream blush, it’s best to avoid them if you want to prevent potential breakouts. Checking the oils in cream products along with using clean makeup brushes to apply cream formulas to the skin are two ways you can try to reduce your chance of a breakout when wearing cream blushes, or any other makeup products that might contain irritating ingredients. If you’re going to use your fingers to blend cream formulas on your face, make sure they are clean and sanitized to avoid spreading unwanted bacteria. 

Tips for Choosing an Acne-Friendly Blush

When choosing acne-friendly cream blushes, read the ingredients label first. When you familiarize yourself with ingredients that could irritate the skin, it’s easier to see which products are best suited for you—and which ones you can leave behind. Snodgrass reiterates, “Non-comedogenic cream blushes are the best option to not clog pores, along with effective face-cleansing at the end of every day and appropriate acne treatment based on skin type.” 

If you’re shopping for acne-friendly products, you can always ask for help from specialists in the store to confirm whether or not a product contains oils or other ingredients you’re trying to avoid. Cleansing your skin every night and removing your makeup is a key factor in keeping skin clean and free from inflammation.

One might wonder, should we ditch the cream blush altogether? Would powder blushes be a better fit?

When asked if cream products are better suited for skin versus powder, Snodgrass states, “This depends on preference and skin type, as powder formulations that contain comedogenic ingredients can cause acne as well.” This confirms that no matter what textures or formulas we use, we do really need to pay attention to the ingredient formulations and choose non-comedogenic options.

Krant mentions that “people with drier skin types will do better with cream formulations. But people with oilier skin types may fare better with powders, it really depends on the person. Powders are more drying and can help to absorb the oil the skin is producing.” There are things you can do to help treat breakouts on a regular basis. Krant stresses the importance of using products that “not only help promote microbiome rebalancing, which reduces the blemish-causing bacteria directly but also contains post-biotics to help to reduce inflammation and redness,” such as using Mother Dirt's Prebiotic Acne Lotion ($32) before applying makeup. If you're looking for a non-comedogenic powder blush option, check out these blushes from Cao.

The Final Takeaway

What we put on our skin is important, and it’s imperative to check the labels of what we are using to see whether or not the ingredients could be contributing to breakouts. Yet using cream blushes (or any blush for that matter) isn’t going to be the only cause of acne and breakouts.

If you want to avoid breakouts and irritations when it comes to blush, non-comedogenic cream blushes are the best choice to use on a daily basis. For some more non-comedogenic cream blushes, check out Tower 28 Beauty's Beach Please Lip + Cheek Cream Blush ($20) and Victoria Beckham Beauty's Cheeky Posh Cream Blush Stick ($42).

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