Makeup might make you look and feel great — but have you stopped to consider what it’s doing to your skin? Be it eyeshadow, mascara or foundation, the chemicals in your cosmetics might be the cause of irritation, allergic reactions or acne. If you think all-natural makeup is the remedy, think again.
“Over the last five to 10 years, there are more products making use of plant extracts and botanical derivatives than ever before,” says Rajani Katta, MD, fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Texas, Houston and clinical assistant professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. “But I have a saying that I tell my patients: There’s good all-natural, and there’s bad all-natural, because even natural ingredients can cause a reaction.”
Patricia Farris, MD, another fellow at the AAD and a clinical associate professor at Tulane University, agrees. “Things like poison ivy are all natural, but you don’t want to rub that on your skin,” Farris says. “Sometimes you need preservatives and things like that to keep bad things (such as bacteria) from growing in your makeup.”
So, if synthetic and natural makeup ingredients can irritate your skin, which products should you use? Here, Katta and Farris share three quick tips on how to use cosmetics to make both you and your skin feel great.
1. Know your skin type.
Remember, everyone’s skin — and how it reacts to makeup — is different, which means not one product or brand will work for everyone. Talk to your dermatologist about what will work best for you, and, once you understand what might trigger a reaction or a breakout, you’ll be better apt to pick the products that enhance your skin. Katta advises keeping in mind that your skin can change from season to season, so you might consider adjusting your makeup routine as time goes on.
2. Read the ingredients list.
“The word ‘natural’ is one of the loosest words in the cosmetic industry,” Farris says. “It’s a term that’s not well-defined, and not regulated by anybody.”
This means you have to look at ingredients lists one-by-one to get an accurate look into what’s in your products. For example, Katta says, “If you look at that one word on the label it will say ‘fragrance,’ but they’ve done studies where that one word equals 40 different chemicals.”
3. Wash your face.
Makeup is meant to complement your skin, but if it’s left on too long, it can do the opposite. “When you have makeup on your face all day, you’re exposed to the environment and you get dirt, pollution and bacteria buildup, and so many people go to bed without taking their makeup off,” Farris says. “We know that that’s the number one cause of breakouts and skin not looking its best — that it’s just not cleansed properly.” So, natural or not, give your skin a break from makeup while you sleep.
At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to makeup. Whether you prefer natural or synthetic-based makeup products, go for the cosmetics that make you feel great — and agree with your skin.