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Face Creams That Cause Breakouts

author image Elizabeth Tumbarello
Elizabeth Tumbarello has been writing since 2006, with her work appearing on various websites. She is an animal lover who volunteers with her local Humane Society. Tumbarello attended Hocking College and is pursuing her Associate of Applied Science in veterinary technology from San Juan College.
Face Creams That Cause Breakouts
Heavy, greasy face creams can cause acne breakouts. Photo Credit Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images


Exposure to greasy and oily skin products can be one major factor in acne breakouts. Whiteheads and blackheads occur when your pores become clogged with oil, dead skin cells and bacteria. When the clogged pores become inflamed or infected, you're left with acne pimples.

Lanolin-Based Creams

Lanolin is the greasy substance produced by sheep to keep their wool soft. It's found in a number of face creams designed to moisturize and soothe dry, chapped skin. According to the Face Reality Skin Care Clinic in San Leandro, California, lanolin and products derived from lanolin are likely to clog pores and cause breakouts. On a five-point scale of how likely you are to break out after using a product, the Face Reality Skin Care Clinic rated lanolin-based products a four out of five. Lanolin is sometimes disguised in ingredient listings as Solulan 16, acetylated lanolin or PEG-16 lanolin. The brands Nature's Beauty and Wild Fern both produce a face cream with lanolin as a main ingredient.

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Oil-Based Creams

Oil-based moisturizers and creams are pore-clogging. Among the top offenders of oil-based ingredients, according to the Face Reality Skin Care Clinic, are coconut oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil and wheat germ oil. On a five-point scale for comedogenic properties, these oils are rated a four out of five. The popular brands Kiss My Face and Pangaea Organics produce face creams that include some or all of these pore-clogging oils. Choose a water-based moisturizer or cream instead.

Natural Ingredients

Just because a product is marketed as a natural or naturally-derived substance doesn't mean it won't cause a breakout. The Face Reality Skin Care Clinic lists a number of botanical substances as major offenders in the formation of acne pimples. Carrageenan, which is extracted from red seaweed, ranks five out of five on the clinic's warning scale. Red algae is another ingredient that has the potential to cause major breakouts in sensitive individuals. Upscale brands Kiehl's and NUXE produce face creams designed to fight signs of aging that tout red algae as a main ingredient. Potassium chloride, a mineral, also ranks five out of five on the clinic's warning scale. All of these ingredients are used to deliver moisture to the skin, as noted in “A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients."

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