Increased Cosmetics Use, Double-Cleanse Method Exacerbates Acne

A stressed woman examining her skin in the mirror
The effect of cosmetics on patients with acne was reported and compared with the results of existing studies.

A survey found that people with acne that persists despite treatment are more likely to use a double-cleanse method and use a higher number of cosmetic products compared with patients with treatment-naïve acne, suggesting cosmetics may influence the persistence of acne duration and severity. Findings from this survey were published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.

The survey included 539 patients with acne vulgaris who had visited 1 of either 3 dermatologic clinics in Korea. These patients completed a questionnaire that asked about their acne in regard to clinical features and exacerbating factors. In addition, the questionnaire surveyed the patients on their use of cosmetics. Patients with acne who continued to experience symptoms after treatment (n=328) were compared with patients who had untreated acne (n=210).

Approximately 31.5% of queried patients were men (mean age, 24.2 years) and 68.4% were women (mean age, 25.0 years). Overall, the mean age of onset was 17.1 years.

As many as 38.1% of patients who experienced treatment failure said continued cosmetics use had worsened their acne. In contrast, 26.3% of treatment-naïve patients said continued use of cosmetics negatively affected their condition (P <.05).

A higher percentage of patients with persisting acne symptoms despite treatment said they used the oil-and-water-based double-cleanse method compared with treatment-naïve patients (63.9% vs 44.3%, respectively; P <.05). Also, patients who experienced treatment failure indicated that they used a higher number of cosmetics, including foundation (46.6% vs 33.8%), compact foundation (35.7% vs 25.2%), cushion (liquid foundation contained on sponge) (43.0% vs 28.1%), concealer (35.4% vs 22.9%), and blusher (35.7% vs 24.6%)

Limitations of the study were the inclusion of only Korean patients as well as the lack of adjustment for retinoid use.

The researchers concluded that because of their findings, it should be “expected that further studies on the relationship with acne according to cosmetic ingredients or formulations will be conducted in the future.”


Suh DH, Oh H, Lee SJ, Kim HJ, Ryu HJ. Relationship between acne and the use of cosmetics: Results of a questionnaire study in 539 Korean individuals. Published online November 18, 2020. J Cosmet Dermatol. doi:10.1111/jocd.13853