Health and Beauty Check: Is Makeup Bad for Your Skin?

For many women, makeup is an important tool in their beauty arsenal. From foundation and lipstick to eyeshadow and blushers – there’s a huge number of makeup and beauty products that help make us feel better about ourselves. We use makeup to change or enhance the way we look, hide blemishes, and simply feel more confident in the skin we’re in.

Makeup has become such a valuable market that the beauty industry has blown up to be worth over $532 billion. But makeup, like all other beauty products, often contain ingredients that may not be all that good for our skin, especially if we use them everyday.

Is Makeup Bad for Your Skin?

putting make up
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While a streak of foundation and a flick of mascara can liven up your face instantly, there’s a price to pay for beauty. Applying makeup every day can have negative effects on your skin, such as:

Clogged pores

Many of us constantly struggle with clogged pores and if you wear heavy makeup often, they can make matters worse. Foundation, especially the liquid ones, can clog your pores and invite acne to your face. A change in your makeup regime is also bad for your skin as it will need to adjust to the new ingredients, getting pores clogged in the process.

Skin allergies

Chemicals such as parabens are used as preservatives to prevent the growth of bacteria in cosmetics. However, these parabens can cause various allergic reactions such as blotches, blemishes, and skin irritation.

Another common allergen in makeup products is salicylate, which can cause an outbreak of painful hives or rashes, specifically if you have sensitive skin. In many cases, allergic reactions won’t be apparent until the symptoms become severe.

Premature aging

Aside from clogging the skin’s pores, regularly using makeup (particularly oil-based ones) can aggravate fine lines around and below the eyes, which is a telltale sign of aging. Talc-based makeup products can also cause rapid wrinkling and early dryness of skin. In addition, makeup that is bad for the skin contain various kinds of chemicals that may cause loss of skin tone and elasticity, resulting in early wrinkling.

Permanent dark circles

It seems counterintuitive – after all, makeup is supposed to conceal those dark circles, not worsen them. However, if you’re using a product, whether it’s eyeshadow or eyeliner, that bugs your skin, this could lead to permanent dark circles. This is because some people have allergic reactions and the circles develop from the constant scratching, rubbing, and irritation.

How do you know if the eye makeup is bad for your skin? If you notice your eyes feeling itchy or looking a little rough after you used that trendy new mascara, don’t buy the product again.

Oilier and drier skin

Certain makeup products can make your skin oilier or drier than it actually is. Oil-based makeup can cause your makeup to crease and clump, especially around the eyelids. This will leave an oily deposit that results in thick oily sheen. Some powders and foundations can also dry out your skin and make it look dull, flaky, and ashen.

Is Cheap Makeup Bad for Your Skin?

You’re standing in the checkout line at Forever 21 when you come across a highlighter palette from the rack behind the register. You’re tempted to buy it. I mean, what better way to glam up your look than with some poppin’ highlighter that only costs seven bucks, right?

But then, a slew of questions suddenly stops you from the impulsive purchase. Why is the highlighter so cheap? Are the ingredients of poor quality? Is cheap makeup bad for my skin?

For that last question, the short answer is: yes, cheap makeup is bad for your skin. But, cheap makeup is just as bad as high-end luxury makeup.

Why? Well, according to Debra Jaliman, a dermatologist based in New York City, the products her patients suspect that are causing skin irritation and other negative reactions are not based on their retail prices. Some of the products are really cheap, and some of them are really expensive. In short, the price tag isn’t great at predicting whether a certain makeup product will mess up your skin. All types of makeup are bad for the skin, in one way or another.

Is Mineral Makeup Bad for Your Skin?

GIF from Giphy

The word “mineral” implies “natural,” so many people assume that mineral makeup is a safer alternative to commercial beauty products. While it’s true that mineral makeup products contain fewer chemicals, it doesn’t automatically mean that they’re safer for your skin.

For instance, most mineral makeup products contain an inorganic compound called bismuth oxychloride, which creates a glowing quality on the skin. Since this ingredient is crystalline, it can get stuck in pores and cause irritation to the skin. Those with acne or rosacea are best sticking with a nurturing and balmy formula like a BB cream, which provides coverage while soothing the skin.

Mineral makeup is also bad for your skin because it creates a dry and powdery finish that can cause the skin to produce more oil. When oils mix with your powdered mineral makeup, your makeup will look cakey and heavy, drawing more attention to acne, blemishes, and other imperfections.

But mineral makeup is all-natural and hypoallergenic, doesn’t that make them better?

Not necessarily. There are plenty of “natural” things out there that are bad for your skin (e.g. walnut and apricot seeds being used as exfoliants), so it’s best not to assume that every natural product is safe to use.

Generally, mineral makeup is known to be free of dyes, fragrances, and preservatives but depending on your skin type, not all those things are bad. As long as you’re not allergic to parabens, preservatives can actually be good as they keep makeup from spoiling — preventing breakouts and bad reactions.

Additionally, while products labelled “hypoallergenic” don’t contain the most common allergens, this doesn’t mean that they’re free ofall allergens. They can still contain certain ingredients that will trigger allergic reactions.

What Makeup Is Bad for Your Skin?

GIF from Giphy

Heavy liquid foundation

No matter how militant you are about washing your face before you go to bed, there’s nothing you can do to save your pores from clogging if you wear heavy liquid foundation every day. When choosing a full-coverage foundation, opt for formulas that go on like a lightweight moisturizer that blends into your skin and allows it to breathe.

Chalky makeup

Avoid chalky powders at all costs. These products are likely to settle into wrinkles, clump oil in areas, and worsen any acne problems.

Alcohol-based makeup products

As an unspoken rule, you should always ensure that your makeup products are completely alcohol-free. Alcohol is one of the harshest ingredients that can quickly dry out your skin. It contributes to flakiness, aggravating dryness even more when it’s met by cold and severe wind.

Some of the common makeup products that contain alcohol are setting sprays. When buying one, make sure the spray contains hydrating ingredients such as coconut oil, glycerin, or hyaluronic acid.


In a Forbes article, two consecutive FDA investigations have reported that 100% of tested lipsticks contained lead, and not even in small amounts. Many of the brands tested were popular names in the industry, such as L’Oreal, M.A.C., Revlon, and Cover Girl.

If you really can’t help having some color on your lips, opt for tinted lip balms.

Talcum powder

Many people use talcum powders to set and mattify their makeup, absorb the oils on their face, or bake their foundation. But talcum powders contain chemicals that can infect your lungs, cause allergies, and be carcinogenic. For a safer alternative, go for cornstarch-based makeup products as there’s no evidence linking cornstarch powders to any type of cancer.

How can I protect my skin with makeup?

While certain makeup products are bad for your skin, there are also certain makeup habits that can ruin your skin. Whether it’s by not cleaning your brushes or sleeping with your makeup still on, there are a lot of subtle yet harmful ways that your makeup habits are bad for your skin.

Here are some healthy ways to protect your skin even if you wear makeup everyday:

Find makeup products that work for your skin

Everyone’s skin is different, so pay attention to your skin’s reaction to different makeup products. Some products will make your skin oily, while some products will dry your skin out. To figure out your skin type, schedule a consultation with a dermatologist. They may also offer expert advice on the best kinds of makeup to use on your skin.

Use sunscreen and moisturizer daily

People often don’t use sunscreen or moisturizer as part of their everyday makeup routine, but they really should. Sunscreen helps with anti-aging while moisturizer helps alleviate the dryness that makeup causes. If you don’t use sunscreen or moisturizer yet, start using them as bases underneath your makeup. To help you save time, there are brandsthat combine sunscreen and moisturizer into one product.

Wash your face every night

It can be hard to motivate yourself to remove your makeup at night before you go to bed, especially when you’re bone tired after a long day. But no matter how tired you are, you MUST take off your makeup before going to sleep. The product residue will clog your pores and lead to a breakout, especially if there’s any kind of oil or silicone in the makeup that’s bad for your skin.

Clean your brushes regularly

This one is a bit difficult to do on a regular basis, but you only need to clean your makeup brushes at least once a month. Deep cleaning your brushes will rid them of harmful bacteria, sweat, and dead skin cells.

Don’t share your makeup with others


You better think twice about borrowing your friend’s lipstick, mascara, or any other makeup as it is bad for your skin. It may be convenient, especially during emergencies when you need a bit of a glow up, but sharing beauty products is a quick way to spread bacteria.

Makeup is an everyday item for many people, even non-negotiable for some, but is makeup bad for the skin? In more ways than one, yes, it is but it also depends on the ingredients found in the products and how an individual uses the products. Certain products may cause problems for you, so it’s important to use makeup that’s not bad for your skin and suitable for your skin type or condition.

Additionally, make it a habit to check the labels for the chemicals present. If you find anything that’s remotely harmful, steer clear as they can have long-term effects. Also, don’t forget the tips we’ve listed above. They may be simple, but it’s important to develop routines that will ultimately help save you from makeup that is bad for your skin.

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