There are two different camps when it comes to makeup’s impact on your skin. On one side are those who think that foregoing using cosmetics allows your skin to breathe (essentially, your open pores are less likely to be clogged by bits of dried makeup), and on the other, those who believe that wearing makeup offers protection against environmental factors that can wreak havoc with skin health. Both have valid points. Let’s take a closer look and the pros and cons of skincare cosmetics so you can determine if covering up or going bare is the right option for you.
Makeup: The Pros
Makeup, when applied correctly, can use color and texture and shine to enhance great features and hide less-than-stellar ones, helping to create a face that allows you to confidently enter the world.
The right skincare cosmetics choices can also help improve your skin. According to some experts, applying high-quality makeup that’s right for your skin is fine every day. Additionally, when using a mineral makeup, which floats on the skin’s surface and stays in place without clogging pores, can help improve the condition of your skin by blocking environmental toxins that we can’t help but encounter while going about your day-to-day life.
Here’s the trouble with the environment, especially if you live in an urban setting. Exposure to pollutants, which enter the skin through the pores, cause damage to cells when cells are exposed. Those damaged cells then become free radicals, which ravage the body attacking other cells, especially the protein cells collagen and elastin, which are the building blocks of skin and are especially attractive to free radicals.1
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While the antioxidants in essential oils can help fight free radical activity, protecting skin proteins, a mineral makeup shield can also provide daily benefits by creating a barrier to pollutants, taking a step toward preventing free radical damage and fighting signs of aging.
Makeup with a good SPF can also offer a layer of valuable protection because the sun is one of the main culprits when it comes to signs of aging. The sun damages collagen and elastin, the skin proteins that keep our skin supple, free from wrinkles and pliable, so skin sags, wrinkles form, and discolorations appear.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should skip an addition layer of sunscreen. Dr. Joel Schlessinger, a Nebraska-based dermatologist who is also a contributor to the website RealSelf, suggests applying a sunscreen, rain or shine, every day in conjunction with a foundation that contains SPF.2
Makeup: The Cons
Although the most effective makeup enhances features without being obvious, this year’s Grammy host, Alicia Keyes, chose to stop wearing makeup in 2016 after a liberating photo shoot without makeup made her more confident in her own skin. Although she did break out a few cosmetics for the televised show – a bit of foundation and a touch of bronzer, according to her makeup artist – she walked the red carpet without makeup to celebrate women’s natural beauty, and remind us that we are all beautiful because we are uniquely ourselves.
“I don’t want to cover up anymore,” she told Cosmopolitan magazine about her 2016 decision to focus on skincare rather than cosmetics. “Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.” 3
Her radiance comes from essential oils, including icy jade rollers to awaken blood vessels at the skin’s surface, and cucumber to lift dark undereye circles. The remedies of essential oils provide a vibrant vote for natural beauty. (Check out our Vibrant blend to reap the full benefits of essential oils).
While makeup can be a shield, it can also trigger skin problems when used incorrectly.
Anyone who has been a long-time fan of “The Real Housewives of New York” will remember when Alex McCord joined the other housewives for a day of pampering that included a facial and announced to the technician that she often went to bed without taking off her makeup. The result was a televised cleansing of pores that dredged up so much gunk it should have made every viewer vow to improve their skincare cosmetics routine ASAP.
That routine should include nightly removal of makeup. Many women’s magazines recognize that sometimes, there isn’t the energy to remove makeup after a long day and recommend keeping makeup removal wipes next to the bed. That way, there are no excuses for leaving makeup on overnight, a move that prevents cell turnover, which can, in turn, leave skin dull, lifeless and prone to breakouts.
Still, makeup inherently isn’t bad for one’s skin.
According to New York-based derm Fayne L. Frey, there is no research suggesting that makeup “has a downside,” although, for some women with sensitive skin including conditions such as rosacea, makeup can accentuate skin problems, triggering more breakouts. The wrong makeup can clog pores, accentuate fine lines and wrinkles, or lead to skin reactions, especially for those with sensitive skin, including contact dermatitis, swelling, itching, and blisters, most often a reaction to fragrances or preservatives in the products.
In some cases, the oils in makeup can block pores and cause a condition known as acne cosmetica, which results in red bumps, especially on the chin, cheeks, and forehead. There are also certain ingredients all of us should avoid, according to Ariel Enriquez, a skin expert who works at a spa in Minneapolis.
Skincare Cosmetics to Skip
Made from petroleum, mineral oil in some cosmetics can be contaminated with toxins that could act as carcinogens based on a 2011 report by the National Toxicology Program. Cosmetics are believed to be a likely carrier.4
Lanolin is problematic because it may be a carrier for pesticides. Obtained from the fur of sheep – lanolin is the sheep equivalent of sebum – depending on the methods used to remove contaminants including pesticides, dirt, dust, and pollen, lanolin can be added to cosmetics along with contaminants, which is risky not only to the skin but also overall health.5
Dyes that have been approved for drug and cosmetic use are derived from coal tar and have also been linked to allergies, skin irritation, nervous system toxicity, and other health problems, causing many makers of cosmetics to stand up and take notice. There are organic products on the market that do not have dangerous dyes and some makeup companies that use plant-based dyes. To be sure, do your research before making a purchase.6
If you follow all the rules and makeup still causes skin problems, it’s possible that you’re not choosing the right makeup for your skin, or for the season. A visit with a makeup specialist or a dermatologist can help you find the right products for your skin.
Photo credits: AnnaDemianenko/shuttersock.com, GeorgeRudy/shutterstock.com, AfricaStudio/shutterstock.com, symbiot/shutterstock.com