Are Dirty Makeup Brushes Giving You Breakouts?

WRITTEN BY: Dermatology
Monday, February 13th, 2017

Though acne is usually associated with the teenage years, it can rear its ugly head on anyone at any time. Acne vulgaris is caused by excessive oil, skin cells and bacteria in the pores of the skin. The oil mixes with the skin cells and collects in the sebaceous gland, leading to a pimple’s characteristic redness and swelling.

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Does Makeup Cause Acne?

Foundation, whether powder or liquid, can do a great job of concealing skin’s blemishes and redness. But foundation that is not fully washed from the face at the end of the day may contribute to pimples and acne.

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When purchasing a foundation, look for products that are labeled “non-comedogenic,” which means it is less likely to clog pores. Most importantly, make sure you’re thoroughly cleansing your face at the end of every day.

RELATED: Q&A: Teenage Acne Treatment

Can makeup brushes and sponges cause acne?

Many people use makeup brushes and sponges to apply cosmetics each day.

With every application, your brushes and sponges collect oil, dust, dead skin, and residual makeup. If not regularly and properly cleaned, these tools can re-deposit these less-than-pleasant substances back on your face, clogging your pores. Sanitizing and cleaning your beauty tools can reduce the transmission of excess bacteria onto your face and prevent breakouts.

The QC Makeup Academy, a school for professional makeup artists, has published a helpful guide on how to clean and sanitize your makeup brush, sponges, and all kinds of beauty essentials.


How to Deal with Acne

First, make sure you are both thoroughly washing your face and cleaning your makeup tools. If you’ve tried the typical, over-the-counter acne treatments and are still struggling with breakouts, consult the UPMC Department of Dermatology. Our experts can work alongside you to improve the appearance and health of your skin. You can schedule an appointment at 412-647-4200 or request an appointment online



The Department of Dermatology at UPMC diagnoses and treats all kinds of skin diseases and dermatologic conditions. The Department offers services and information in the areas of general dermatology, medical dermatology, pediatric dermatology, dermatologic surgery, dermatopathology, cutaneous oncology, and cosmetic dermatology. Read More