Most causes of acne have nothing to do with allergies. However, there's one type of acne - acne cosmetics - that doctors blame on use of makeup, creams and moisturizers. People most often affected by this type of acne are women in their early twenties and thirties, many of whom have never had acne before in their lives. In those people, 'makeup is the culprit unless proven otherwise,' says Susan Elliott, a professor in the department of dermatology at the University of California at San Francisco. Foundations, blushers and powders tend to be comedogenic (acne-forming), she told us. Those labelled 'non-comedogenic' are okay.
Creams and moisturizers, used to prevent drying and aging of the skin, may also contribute to acne formation in allergic people. Not only can the extra oil plug pores, but fragrances, lanolin, cocoa butter and other ingredients are common allergic triggers.
If you feel you need a moisturizer (and most women do, at least in winter), choose a bland product. Look for non-greasy, light-textured, unscented creams and lotions with as few ingredients as possible. Dermatologists to whom we spoke recommended Vaseline Dermatology Formula, Nutraderm, and Nivea lotion, all available at chemists.
When you wash your face, be thorough to remove as much oil and bacteria as you can. But be gentle. Acne-prone skin is sensitive. Use a mild cleansing bar, free of potentially allergenic fragrances, dyes and preservatives. And be sure to rinse your face thoroughly afterwards. Soap residue left on the skin can block pores and encourage acne.
Astringents wipe away surface oil, but don't really decrease deep-down oil production. In fact, one doctor says that an astringent may actually stimulate oil production if it contains irritants (fragrances, dyes or preservatives) to which the individual is sensitive. So for acne sufferers, astringents are dispensable.
And how about diet in general? Why can some people eat whatever they want to and never break out, while others are forced to give up foods they crave? Individual susceptibility. It's a combination of allergies, heredity, hormones and sensitivity to bacteria in sebaceous glands. If that combination hasn't worked out in your favor, cut down on chocolate, other sweets, cola drinks, soft drinks, beer, wine and alcohol, and fatty foods.