Makeup is one of those double-edged swords we sometimes have to grapple with. On the one hand, it's fun and feminine. A flick of eyeliner and swipe of blush can instill us with a quick boost of confidence. But there's a downside to makeup. We can't help but fear: are we clogging our pores with every pat of powder? Or, as evidenced by Alicia Keys' infamous rejection of makeup this year, are we somehow hiding behind our cosmetics?
The holidays, more than just a time for gluttony and gayety, offer us all a chance to reboot and evaluate our makeup routine. But is it really better to ditch the cosmetics altogether? Here's some advice and candid answers from skin professionals about those pestering makeup questions we all wonder about.
Is makeup really all that bad for us?
The answer, of course, depends on your skin type (i.e., whether you have sensitivities, allergies, or skin conditions), but board-certified dermatologist Fayne L. Frey of Dermatology & Dermatological Surgery in New York says, "There are no studies that show makeup application has any downside for most women."
Ariel Enriquez, Skin Trainer at Massage Retreat & Spa in Minneapolis told Verily, "It isn't bad to wear makeup every day, but that all depends on the ingredients in the products, as well as how diligent you are in removing the makeup." Enriquez advises clients to avoid anything with mineral oil, lanolin, and D&C colorants.
Joel Schlessinger, Nebraska-based, board-certified dermatologist and RealSelf contributor, echoes Enriquez. He says, "As long as you choose high-quality makeup that is designed for your skin type, there is nothing wrong with applying makeup every day." In fact it could even improve your skin's health. He recommends using a mineral makeup because it stays on the skin's surface (aka doesn't clog pores) and creates a natural barrier against environmental factors.
Still, there has to be a benefit to not wearing makeup for a bit (like over the holidays), right?
According to Dr. Frey, "You will hear all kinds of benefits form 'self-proclaimed' beauty experts saying the skin can't breathe without makeup. Fact is: Skin doesn't breathe. Your lungs do that!"
Enriquez says a little break certainly won't do any harm. Without any barrier, your skin stands to "shed dead skin cells faster," which isn't a bad thing. She says if you're wearing makeup that's appropriate for your skin, however, it shouldn't be much of an issue.
Dr. Schlessinger suggests taking a little break if you've been having any issues with breakouts or irritation. "The break will give you a chance to determine what gave your skin the adverse reaction."
Once the holidays end and our makeup routine resumes, what should we do differently?
Enriquez advises clients to "always double-cleanse your skin when wearing makeup." She adds, "Never sleep in makeup as it doesn't allow your skin to properly shed. Old skin cells, makeup, and environmental pollutants will accumulate on your pillow (Ew!)."
Like Enriquez, Dr. Schlessinger says far and away the most important habit is cleansing at night. "Sleeping in makeup can cause clogged pores, breakouts, irritation and rough skin texture, but most importantly, it leads to premature signs of aging and bacterial buildup." He also says to get better at cleaning your brushes. (Guilty!) "If not properly cleaned, makeup brushes can carry hordes of bacteria that can cause serious damage to the skin. Not to mention, buildup that gathers on dirty brushes causes them to deteriorate quicker, affecting your makeup application." He says to use a spray cleanser every week and to deep clean them with a brush shampoo once a month. Finally, Dr. Schlessinger also says, "you should be applying sunscreen every day, rain or shine, even if your foundation has added SPF."
Dr. Frey has some words of relief for any women who are a bit tired of their intricate makeup habits. "Remember," she says, "when it comes to skincare, try to 'keep it real!' Skincare shouldn't be a full time job." (We can get behind that!) Many women hesitate to give up foundation because of its SPF properties. If you're ready to embrace the Alicia Keys doctrine and ditch makeup in 2017, "the answer," she says, "is simple. In the morning, apply a moisturizer with SPF liberally or a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more."
At the end of the day, you don't have to take a makeup hiatus over the holidays to benefit your skin. (Although, going makeup-free would probably lend credibility to your pajama party.) As we head toward a new year, simply make sure your cosmetic practices are in line with this professional advice, and you be in the clear!
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