Is Wearing Makeup Bad for My Skin? Addressing Skin Myths, Part One

This is me with my “baby” cousin Natalie on my wedding day. She is graduating from High School on June 3rd this year!

TGIF loves!!! I get a lot of questions from you on a daily basis (keep them coming! I appreciate hearing from you SO much!) and so I wanted to start a series in which I debunk some of the biggest skincare myths that exist today. There is SO much information out there and it can be hard to tell what’s true. Luckily, as an Aesthetician, it is my job to be an expert in how to make your skin look its best, to keep up with the latest information, and to study ingredients in products

SKIN MYTH No. 1 “Wearing Makeup Is Bad for Your Skin”

This, is a myth. Now let me add a caveat to this. If you do not wash it off properly at the end of the day, then yes, it is bad for your skin. If you are properly cleansing your skin? I’m going to explain how makeup can actually help to preserve your skin.

A quick lesson in the skin’s barrier function

On top of your skin you have a barrier layer called the “acid mantle”. This layer should remain at a pH level of 5.5 or slightly acidic. The pH level is important because it helps to fend off microbes and organisms that cannot survive in an acidic environment. This is your body’s first defense against outside invaders. You can read even more in-depth about the skin’s barrier function here.

Now, on your face, the biggest “invader” you need to worry about is what’s known as a free radical.  While a free radical may sound like a member of a hippy activist rock band, they are not so benign in reality. Free Radicals are atoms (or sometimes groups of atoms) with an odd (think: unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once formed, these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction (just like a domino effect). The main danger comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. Cells may function poorly or die if this occurs. To prevent free radical damage the body has a defense system of antioxidants. On the skin, these can be applied topically in the form of Vitamin C and Ferulic Acid. (Such as in Skin Ceuticals’ CE Ferulic!). Free radicals can come to the skin in the form of pollutants and particles in the air.

Makeup creates an extra layer, or an extra “barrier” on the skin. 

When worn appropriately during the day, makeup provides protection to the skin that is two fold; It can form a physical block against the sun (although I wouldn’t use it on its own- always wear a separate SPF of at least 30 please!), and it protects the skin like a sticky blanket that these free radicals attach to and then wash down the drain at the end of the night.

Why most people think that wearing makeup is bad for the skin

If makeup is left sitting on the skin with dirt, debris, sebum, free radicals, pollutants and other particles stuck there and it doesn’t get washed off, it can be very problematic and even aging for the skin, because it deprives the skin of vital oxygen. Therefore, makeup needs to be cleansed off properly and thoroughly at the end of each day. I recommend a gel cleanser such as Simply Clean by SkinCeuticals, followed by a toner to re-set the skin’s pH back to 5.5 (there’s that barrier function again!), and then applying appropriate serums and moisturizers before bed.

If not using the appropriate kind of makeup for your skin type, the makeup can even be comedogenic, meaning it can clog the pores and cause breakouts. My favorite is mineral makeup because it is actually very healthy for the skin and also doesn’t contain a lot of ingredients that can be irritating or even cause an allergic reaction in the skin. My favorite brand is Jane Iredale.

The takeaway

  • Wear the right formulation of makeup for your skin type (i.e. not too heavy if your skin is oily) and try a mineral makeup
  • Make sure you thoroughly remove the makeup by cleansing your skin properly at the end of each day

 

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