What Ingredients are Bad for Acne-Prone Skin?

If you have acne-prone skin, you might want to avoid products with ingredients such as Coconut Oil, Benzoyl Peroxide, Parabens, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Alcohol, Sodium Chloride, Silicones, Mineral Oil, Lanolin, Fragrance, Lauric Acid, Argan Oil, Shea Butter, Xylene just to mention a few.

How to know which products to avoid

Most cosmetic products have a list of the ingredients that were used to make them. To find the ingredients list, just look at the back or the sides of the container and you might see a label or a section written ingredients, where you can look to see if there are any of the ingredients that you should be avoiding.

Next, I will be looking at the ingredients one by one, and discussing what they do to acne-prone skin or rather, how they affect your acne-prone skin.

Coconut Oil

The most common one of them all, and the one you would least expect to cause a breakout on your skin is coconut oil. Although it is completely harmless to use this oil on your hair or even in your food, experts categorize it under comedogenic products.

Coconut oil contains lauric acid which is well known to trigger breakouts. Even though coconut oil contains some unsaturated fats like linoleic acid, which can be good for sensitive skin, the saturated fats in lauric acid might outweigh the benefits.

Coconut oil is known to be quite dense and can clog your pores fast and form blackheads. If you have skin that usually breaks out easily, you are highly advised to use non-comedogenic products.

If you have oily skin, then you are advised to avoid products with essential oils or mineral oils in their ingredients since they may cause allergic reactions or further clog your already hyper-active pores.

Cocoa Butter

Who doesn’t love the soothing smell of a cocoa butter product or at least something with cocoa butter in the ingredients? Well, you might be surprised to learn that it is a comedogenic product and this is bad news for people with acne-prone skin.

Cocoa butter is better suited to those with dry skin because it is an emollient, meaning it offers amazing hydration.


SD Alcohol 40, Denatured Alcohol, Ethanol, and Isopropyl Alcohol are all different forms of alcohol that can cause irritation and can dry out the skin when used. These ingredients can strip your skin of natural oils.

Mostly found in toners and common exfoliating products, products with these ingredients can affect your skin’s overall health, especially if you have dry skin.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Also known as SLS, this ingredient is used as a foaming agent in products like toothpaste, body washes, facial cleansers, and shampoos. While it serves its purpose in creating the right amount of thick lather we all love, it can disrupt the skin’s moisture barrier and make your breakouts even worse.


Artificial and synthetic fragrances can be a huge trigger for acne, irritation, and skin allergies. The perfume or fragrance in your moisturizer is usually a mixture of many different chemicals, any of which can cause irritation or inflammation to your sensitive skin, making it even harder to treat the acne.

People with sensitive skin are advised to avoid products with the words perfume, perfume, fragrance, or linalool as these may be harmful despite having attractive smells. Instead, it is recommended to look for products that have been labeled fragrance-free.

Essential Oils

Many skin care and cosmetic products these days are competing on who’s product is more stacked with essential or mineral oils. If your skin is already inflamed, using an essential oil will not reduce the inflammation, but only makes it worse.

Essential oils are usually extremely concentrated compounds and if possible they should not be applied directly to the skin in their raw form. It is recommended that you mix the oils with something like jojoba oil, or oils with purely unsaturated fats to make sure the dense, essential oil is diluted before applying to the skin.


Silicones are usually found in products such as sunscreens and primers, and other products that tend to leave a layer with a silky texture to your skin. Many people like the soft texture that comes with the chemical but it has an adverse effect on your skin’s overall health.

Products like these can clog your pores over a certain period of time and will eventually cause breakouts. Here are some of the silicone ingredients that you should always look out for in the products you apply to your skin: Cyclomethicone (synthetic silicone oil), Dimethicone (silicone oil), and Cetearyl Methicone (non-water soluble silicone).

You are highly advised to use moisturizing and cleansing products that are chemical-free. This can help to reduce irritation, breakouts, inflammation, build-up, and clogging of the skin and pores.