Is Makeup Bad for Your Skin?

4 min read  |  March 12, 2024  | 

When you want to put your best face forward, is there any harm in wearing makeup? Not if you follow a few simple guidelines from Ariel Eber, M.D., a dermatologist at the University of Miami Health System. “The makeup of decades ago is different from the makeup of today. Most makeup products made today are mineral based, non-comedogenic, contain sunscreen, and offer more sun protection than not wearing makeup, especially in South Florida,” Dr. Eber says. A non-comedogenic foundation is formulated not to clog the skin’s pores.

Clean skin is happy skin

Always remove makeup before bed and try not to wear it longer than eight or ten hours. Dr. Eber says a proper skincare routine should be the foundation of healthy skin. Here’s the right way to cleanse your face: 

  • Start with an oil-based cleanser, such as coconut or jojoba oil. Use micellar water if your skin is oily or you prefer a lighter cleanser.
  • Use a gentle, sudsy cleanser and rinse with lukewarm (not hot or cold) water.
  • Use an alcohol-free toner. Dr. Eber likes witch hazel; check the label – some toners contain alcohol, which can be drying.
  • Apply moisturizer. 

You don’t have to scrub hard to achieve a fresh face; your fingers will work just fine. 

“Washcloths and skin brushes can introduce bacteria, and scrubbing breaks down the skin, making it more susceptible to injury. If you’re using the right cleansers, you don’t need to scrub,” Dr. Eber says. 

It’s unnecessary to wash your face in the morning unless your skin is exceptionally oily or acne-prone or you wear a retinoid product at night. “Retinoids can cause additional sensitivity,” Dr. Eber says.

Before applying any makeup, always apply a protective base first, such as moisturizer or serums, followed by sunscreen.

Doesn’t my skin need to breathe?

“Metaphorically speaking, the skin doesn’t breathe,” Dr. Eber says. However, the skin does “regulate oil production and moisture and exchange gases,” which is all part of the natural epidermal cycle. 

“The skin is a really smart organ; it will inherently regulate itself; for that reason, pH-balancing products might not be necessary. However, using a pH-balanced toner before applying makeup acts as an additional barrier to protect your skin.” 

And people with drier skin may benefit from wearing an oil-based formula. “These products prevent trans-epidermal moisture loss and provide a layer of protection. Matte foundations, however, can be drying, so they should be avoided if you have dry skin,” Dr. Eber says.

There’s nothing wrong with the natural look if that’s what you prefer. Just follow Dr. Eber’s skin care guidelines and wear sunscreen. You might also consider wearing tinted sunscreen or moisturizer. 

“They have the added benefit of protecting against visible light, which helps prevent hyperpigmentation and signs of aging,” Dr. Eber says. A light dusting of mineral-based tinted powder also helps even skin tone and reduce shine. 

Is it okay to wear makeup if you have acne?

“It’s important to feel good and not self-conscious, so 100% yes. Wear a water-based foundation or tinted, non-comedogenic moisturizing SPF. Some makeup formulations even have glycolic acid or salicylic acid, which are comedolytic ingredients that break down the sebum that clogs pores,” says Dr. Eber. 

Last but not least, toss out old or expired makeup, regularly clean your tools and brushes, and watch for signs of allergens such as itchiness, irritation, or redness after applying products. Then go ahead and put your best face forward. 

Nancy Moreland is a regular contributor to the UHealth Collective. She has written for several major health care systems and the CDC. Her writing also appears in the Chicago Tribune and U.S. News & World Report.

Tags: Dr. Ariel Eber, expired makeup, face foundation, skin care in Miami

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