These Ingredients Are Suffocating Your Skin

We've all heard the skin care cry of “this will clog your pores!” but did you know that certain ingredients can actually “suffocate” your skin, leading to a less-than-perfect complexion?

Annet King, senior director of global education for Dermalogica and the International Dermal Institute, says ingredients like synthetic (isopropyl myristate) and petroleum-based oils are listed as comedogenic and should be avoided by people prone to acne and with oiler skin. “These oils are cheap to manufacture with versus plant oils, which are very costly,” she says. “They can create an invisible film on the skin, and unlike plant oils, are not water-soluble so do not wash away easily.”

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What all this adds up to is breakouts, congestion and millia, because cells, dirt, debris, toxins and sweat are actually being trapped next to the skin. “Technically, you aren’t suffocating the skin as the skin doesn’t ‘breathe,’ but for some people, certain ingredients will cause skin issues.”

More specifically, King says, is that these ingredients can cause congestion, mainly millia. “You see this around the eyes on people that use baby oil to remove eye makeup. They are small, hard white impactions that do not extract easily as they are trapped cells beneath the skin with no follicle opening. Exfoliation will help remove them, but they may need to be lanced by a professional to help them lift out.”

In order to prevent it, King suggests looking for plant-based oils (some that she pegs as “skin-friendly” are olive, Kukui nut, apricot kernel, grapeseed, argan, rosehip seed and evening primrose) that are water-soluble and can be washed easily from the skin without the use of an alcohol-based toner to remove residue.