Is Your Makeup Safe? 5 Skin-Healthy Makeup Tips

People wear makeup for lots of reasons. But, if you’re not careful, makeup can cause problems. It can irritate your skin, eyes or both. Sometimes potentially dangerous ingredients can be absorbed through your skin.

Here’s a little information to help you keep your skin healthy.

What Happens to Your Skin When You Use Makeup?

Makeup can enhance positives, but it can also speed the aging process by causing the breakdown of collagen in your skin. Foundations, especially liquids, can clog your pores, making them bigger or causing pimples.

Most makeup is designed to stay on the surface of the skin, but sometimes substances can be absorbed into your system. Makeup preservatives, fragrances and chemicals can irritate your skin.

Bacteria on your hands and your applicators can get carried to the powders and liquids. The bacteria can transfer to your skin and lead to infections.

That’s why it’s important to use makeup wisely.

How Should You Use Makeup?

The KISS rule – keep it super simple – is the best way to approach your makeup.

  1. Always start with a gentle face cleanser, a moisturizer and sunscreen with an SPF 30 or more.
  2. Buy just a few good quality products. Rather than storing old cosmetics, use up the product and replace as needed.
  3. Read the labels. (A list of chemicals you may want to avoid is linked later in the story.) Less is often more when it comes to ingredients. Loose powder usually has fewer ingredients than liquid foundation and is less likely to irritate the skin.
  4.  Keep skin, hands and applicators clean. Don’t dip your fingers into containers: pour or scoop out the product with something disposable.
  5. Always take makeup off before you go to bed so it doesn’t clog pores and oil glands or lead to inflammation.

Take a break from makeup a couple days a week to let skin cells renew themselves and keep your skin healthy.

If your skin gets irritated or you start having eye or vision problems, stop using the product immediately. See a health care professional if it doesn’t clear up quickly.

Cosmetics get old and contaminated even with careful use. Toss your mascara after 3 months, liquid products after 6 months, and others after a year or so. Do it sooner if they start to smell or change color or texture.

Ingredients to Look for

Look for face products that include zinc oxide and have at least a 30 SPF rating. These ingredients block the sun from your skin, and that’s the best protection against skin aging. Products with these ingredients help protect against skin cancer.

A skin Care Secret

The best ingredients for a glowing complexion are the ones you eat to keep healthy, of course. Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, green leafy vegetables, blueberries and tomatoes, nuts, beans and legumes, and fatty fish like salmon are all high on the anti-oxidant list for skin health.

Ingredients to Avoid

It’s a little harder to know what your should avoid. Cosmetics aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Words like “hypoallergenic” have no specific definition.

For ingredients with possible cancer risks, see the Breast Cancer Fund’s list of chemicals in cosmetics. You’ll want to ask yourself if you want chemicals like phthalates, triclosan, dioxane, ethylene oxide, butadiene or lead on your skin.

Where to check for safety

The Environmental Working Group maintains the Skin Deep Database. You can enter the name of a product, an ingredient or a company and get a “hazard score” from 1 (low hazard) to 10 (high hazard). It also describes the risks and how good the evidence is.

If you have questions about skin health, visit with your health care provider.

Meet the Author

Sarah C. S. Kaldem, NP is a Nurse Practitioner in Dermatology at the Aurora Health Center in Burlington, Wisconsin

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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