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Makeup Mistakes to Avoid for Healthy Skin

By Erin Bair, Licensed Esthetician + Certified Health Coach

Makeup...most of us have a love/hate relationship with it. Many of my clients tell me they’re certain their makeup is ‘bad for their skin . A little investigation usually reveals that there is some user error to be corrected.

But first, is it clogging?

First and foremost, whether your makeup choice is liquid, cream, or powder, it has to be a non-clogging formula. This goes for primers and setting sprays, foundation, blushes and bronzers, and even lip color. Here’s a quick reference of ingredients that could be clogging:

  • Acetylated Lanolin

  • Butyl Stearate

  • Coal Tar

  • Cocoa Butter

  • Coconut Oil

  • D & C Red Dyes

  • Decyl Oleate

  • Grapeseed Oil

  • Isopropyl Isostearate

  • Isopropyl Linoleate

  • Isopropyl Myristate

  • Isopropyl Neopentanoate

  • Isopropyl Palmitate

  • Isostearic Acid

  • Lanolic Acid

  • Lauroyl Lysine

  • Linseed Oil

  • Myristyl Myristate

  • Oleic Acid

  • Oleyl Alcohol

  • Soybean Oil

  • Squalene

Please note that the amount of a particular clogging ingredient, as well as the other ingredients combined with it in a formula, plays a role in whether the product will break you out. But this short list of ingredients to avoid is a fantastic place to start if you suspect your makeup is clogging your pores.

Unfortunately, mica and other minerals can be coated in clogging ingredients that are NOT listed on the label! For this reason, I prefer to stick with brands I know and trust. Being able to talk directly to the formulator has it's benefits.

It’s gotta come off

Once you’ve determined that your makeup is truly acne safe, the next step is to ALWAYS wash it off every night.

Proper nighttime cleansing will prepare your skin for products that help to keep pores clear, fight aging, and aid in repair overnight. It’s believed that the skin repair cycle begins at dark, so the earlier you cleanse, the better! Another benefit to cleansing your skin as soon as possible at the end of the day? You’ll have less chance of forgetting, falling asleep with your makeup on, or skipping important steps because you’re too tired.

Makeup wipes might seem like the easy quick fix here, but they don’t really clean the skin. If you love wipes, use them but wash your skin with cleanser as your next step. When removing makeup, it’s best to massage cleanser onto dry skin (I have developed a lotion type cleanser that works great for this), then wet fingertips and continue for a minute or so, then rinse thoroughly. If you apply cleanser to wet skin, any waterproof SPF or especially heavy makeup will not break down as well. Try the dry skin/wet fingers/rinsing technique, it’ll make a huge difference. Follow with a gentle cloth such as a baby washcloth - no rubbing!! - for complete cleansing. Finish your cleansing steps with a toner to adjust pH and prepare your skin for the next steps.

It’s worthwhile to note that during the months you spend time outside, you may see more ‘makeup’ on your cotton round after toner application. Is it really makeup? Usually, it’s tan skin cells you’re seeing. Yes, you can even get tan when wearing SPF diligently. I mention it here because in the summer, my clients often mistakenly assume their cleanser isn’t doing a great job of makeup removal and end up over-scrubbing to remove...their tan.

Does it contain ‘bismuth oxychloride’?

If you feel your powder makeup is making your wrinkles look more pronounced, check the formula for bismuth oxychloride. Besides making lines more noticeable, this ingredient also causes itchy, rashy drama in about a quarter of the population. I don’t sell makeup that contains bismuth for both of those reasons.

Brush maintenance

Take care to clean your makeup brushes, weekly if possible, or at least once a month. A lot of brush cleaners sold today contain irritating pore cloggers, so I recommend using your skin cleanser. Work both water and cleanser into the tips of brushes, rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry. Be sure to keep water and soap from seeping into the ferrule, the base of the bristle area. Failure to do this will lead to glue breaking down and eventually the bristles will fall out.

I recommend synthetic brushes over animal hair any day. Synthetics are less irritating and come with less chance of causing reactions on the skin.

No cheating ;)

When you’re ready to do it all again the next morning, don’t try to skip a step by mixing your makeup with SPF. You’ll alter the SPF formula, making it less effective. And don’t fall into the trap of believing that your makeup itself is sufficient sun protection. Even in dark climates such as ours, daily sun protection must be used rain or shine. Instead, apply an SPF of at least 30 that works for your skin type, and once it’s dry, apply your makeup.


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