Makeup is something a lot of us wear every day without even thinking about it. But how does that affect your skin? We asked some top dermatologists how we can stop wearing makeup to help protect our skin.

Is wearing makeup actually bad for your skin?

no makeup skincare

“Makeup is not necessarily ‘bad’ for the skin, and most people wear makeup without any trouble at all,” says Dr Daron Seukeran, medical director at skincare clinic Sk:n. “However, some people can develop sensitivities to certain ingredients found in makeup.”

Seukeran, says that there are lots of different preservatives and other ingredients that can cause irritation or contact dermatitis in certain people. For instance, he says that fragrance is the second most common allergen in the UK.

“Dermatologists will sometimes patch test someone who is having recurrent problems with makeup to check if they’re having allergies. However the majority of people will not have a problem with wearing makeup during the daytime.”

The problem starts when you forget to remove your makeup before you fall asleep at night. When this happens, you run the chances of letting the bacteria, oil and sebum build up on the skin surface and cause a breakout.

“Makeup can clog pores and when it’s not removed properly with a cleansing routine. It can build up and create blackheads and spots,” says Chris Luckham, skin specialist at Foreo.

 What kinds of skin issues can regularly wearing makeup cause?

“Wearing makeup regularly and re-using the same brushes each day can block your pores and introduce bacteria onto your face. This often leads to small rash-like bumpy pimples,” says from Dr Ophelia Veraitch, consultant dermatologist at The Cranley Clinic on Harley Street.

Veraitch says that it’s a common misconception is that the makeup physically blocks the pore. The block is actually made of dead skin cells.

“Irritant dermatitis accounts for the majority of reactions to makeup and other cosmetic products. It can occur in anyone, but is more likely in those with pre-existing sensitive skin or in those with underlying barrier disruption caused by a condition like eczema or rosacea.”

It typically causes an itchy, scaly red rash but can even blister or weep. While Veraitch says that symptoms can occur immediately, it may take weeks or even months to develop with weaker irritants, making it difficult to identify the cause.

What happens to the skin when we give stop wearing makeup?

Woman squeezing spots

“People who stop wearing makeup, especially if the makeup they were wearing was occlusive or comedogenic [leading to blackheads], tend to notice that their skin looks a lot better after a week,” says Veraitch.

“A barrier of makeup can make your skin produce more oil, which can lead to breakouts. There’s a better chance for pores to be blocked over the span of a week.”

That being said, if your skin is still giving you trouble after a week of cold turkey (and you’re tempted to crack out the foundation before you open the door for a supermarket delivery), try giving it a little more time to settle.

“A skin cycle is typically around 28 days. The longer your skin can go without makeup, the better it will regulate your skin’s temperature, oil control, hydration, and its natural exfoliation process,” says Veraitch.

What skincare tips would you recommend to support your skin while you’re laying off the makeup?

“I swear by vitamin C creams in the morning, as it naturally helps to boost your glow” says Luckham.

“Ingredients like niacinamide or peptides are also good for their skin illuminating, calming and revitalising properties too,” he adds.

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension, Amazon.

Meanwhile, Veraitch stresses that while we’re all spending more time indoors, it’s still important to implement a thorough cleansing routine each evening. When it comes to removing the day, there’s one method that she suggests your steer clear of.

“I would always advise against using face wipes,” she says. “Essentially, they just move dirt and oil around on the face. The skin around your eyes is extremely delicate, so the rubbing motion alone will drag the skin and could cause premature ageing and pigmentation.”

Clinique Rinse Off Foaming Cleanser, Amazon.

Finally, she adds: “Use a broad-spectrum SPF throughout the day to protect your skin from damaging sun exposure and, as always, drink plenty of water.”

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