Is Too Much Makeup Bad for Your Skin?

Is Too Much Makeup Bad for Your Skin?

To most women, makeup is an extremely important part of their lives. Applying makeup before heading to work is so deeply engrossed invert woman’s morning routine it’s almost a ritual. Makeup isn’t just about making ladies look prettier or bringing out their natural beauty; for many, it’s also about feeling more confident. However, sometimes, your best friend can turn into a foe. Makeup can be bad for your skin cells and overall skin health. Why is too much makeup bad for your skin, and how to avoid this? The answer to that question can be found below.

Makeup and Skin

Let’s start with your makeup routine. When you’re flipping through fashion and beauty magazines or visiting women’s websites, you usually see tons of stories that tell you, directly or indirectly, that the more makeup you apply, the prettier you will look. These stories usually include photos of celebrities with several layers of makeup suggesting that you should look the same.

However, these covert messages couldn’t be more wrong. You see, the whole point of makeup is to emphasize your own natural beauty by hiding certain imperfections. For this purpose, makeup is quite beneficial, specially that moderate makeup usage is not really that harmful for your skin. However, when you apply several layers of makeup every day, and when you don’t even remove makeup before bedtime, you will have a problem.

Let’s see what effects excess makeup and sleeping without removing makeup will have on your skin:

  • Foundation – these are usually thick and, usually, overlying products which you have on your face throughout the day. Dr. Jeannette Graf, MD, assistant clinical professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York explains that large particles and pigments break down over the day. These particles are metabolized by natural processes and are also exposed to environmental pollutants and bacteria, molds, mites etc.

    The metabolic byproduct and the makeup itself prevent the microcirculation that helps in skin renewal. In turn, skin cell turnover rate decreases, which affects the quality and overall health of the skin cells that are located in your dermis, a layer of the skin between epidermis and subcutaneous tissues. As a consequence of the impaired functionality of the skin cells, the production of collagen decreases as well and so does the elasticity of the skin. All these factors lead to a dull complexion, a rough texture, the formation of fine lines, wrinkles, inflammation due to clogged pores, acne and many other skin problems.

  • Primer – This also has the potential to harm your skin, according to Dr. Graf, but it depends on how you use it. If you go easy with primer and only apply it lightly you won’t have problems. On the other hand, if you apply primer with a heavy hand and don’t even remove it before bedtime, then it could potentially lead to the same effects as excessive foundation. Why? It’s because makeup coupled with environmental pollutants on your skin don’t allow the skin to breathe and recover.

Dr. Graf isn’t the only one who states that makeup products can significantly impair the skin’s natural balance and lead to numerous problems. For example, Dr. Ijaz Ahmed a practicing dermatologist at Ziauddin University Hospital in Karachi reveals that makeup is the root cause of acne and other skin problems in more than 30% of the total number of patients.

Blame it on the Ingredients

Blame it on the Ingredients

The reason why makeup has the ability to impair skin renewal and negatively affect skin cells is because of the ingredients it contains. Makeup products are made of a number of different ingredients and chemical substances that are bad for your skin as well as your overall health. Some chemicals present in makeup can be absorbed into your bloodstream. From there, they can reach and affect not only skin, but other organs as well.

In fact, the Telegraph published an interesting article on this subject. The article revealed interesting findings by Richard Bence, a biochemist who spent more than three years researching cosmetic products and their effects. Bence revealed that:

  • Women who use makeup excessively are absorbing about 5lbs of chemicals into their bodies each year
  • Most women use more than 20 different makeup products a day! This means that women apply hundreds of different chemicals onto their skin on daily basis
  • 9 out of 10 women apply expired products
  • Some chemicals from makeup products are linked with a wide array of side effects that range from skin irritations to premature aging or even skin cancer in some cases

For example, a wide range of makeup and beauty products contain Quaternium 15 which is a quaternary ammonium salt used as a preservative. The ingredient is declared as an antimicrobial agent, but it’s a well-known allergen that can lead to several skin conditions including contact dermatitis.

Contact dermatitis is a skin condition characterized by a red and itchy rash. Other symptoms of this condition include:

  • Burning, tenderness, and swelling
  • Scaly, dry, and cracked skin
  • Blisters

Quaternium 15 is found in these makeup products:

  • Foundations, powders, concealers
  • Eye makeup (eyeliners, mascaras, eye shadows)
  • Facial makeup (blushes, primers)
  • Bronzers
  • Makeup removers
Richard Bence

However, if you thought that Quaternium 15 is used only in the cosmetic industry, you are wrong. Below you can see the list of all products that contain this ingredient.

Self hygiene and pharmaceutical products:

  • Soaps
  • Shampoos
  • Moisturizers, lotions, and creams
  • Shaving products
  • Body powders
  • Sunscreens
  • Harsh cleansers
  • Disinfectants

Industrial products:

  • Adhesives
  • Floor was and polish
  • Printing pastes
  • Joint cement
  • Paper and paperboard
  • Water-based inks
  • Laundry starch
  • Latex paints
  • Industrial cutting fluid

Judging by the list of ingredients, this particular preservative is quite strong. Now, when you apply it onto delicate facial skin excessively, and if you don’t remove your makeup, then powerful ingredient like this can make a significant impact on your skin and skin cells. Needless to say, Quaternium 15 is only one of hundreds of chemicals that you apply to your skin on daily basis, many of which present real risks to your health and beauty.

How Much Makeup is Enough?

The purpose of this article isn’t to tell you that you shouldn’t apply makeup anymore. After all, cosmetic products have been an important part of every woman’s life. The primary aim of this article is to stress the importance of moderate usage and application of makeup. When used moderately and removed each time after you come back home, your skin gets to “breathe” and skin cells aren’t affected.

Here are some makeup tips that will help you determine how much makeup is enough:

  • Makeup should help you flaunt your natural look which means only smaller portions of products should be applied
  • Invest in good mascara that can last throughout the day without clumping. Why? It’s because if your mascara clumps easily, you will always feel the urge to go to the bathroom and fix the problem. And that usually involves re-applying more mascara until your eyelashes seem plastic with its heavy layers of product
  • If you’re going to work, you can easily choose not to apply eye shadow, your eyes can stand out at work with delicately applied eyeliner and mascara without the need of extra products
  • When making your eyes stand out, go easy on the lips and vice versa. Therefore, when you’re going out, and make your eyes pop you should avoid applying red or some other “strong” lipstick shades. Instead, you should go for nude or light colors. That way, by cutting back on some area of your face, you’re using less makeup than usual, while following one of the most important makeup style rules
  • When applying blush, you should bear in mind that its purpose is to make your cheeks look like they have a dash of bright color. If your cheeks look unnatural, then it’s definitely too much makeup and you should tone it down
  • The amount of makeup you apply should be enough to make you look recognizable while still covering all the imperfections you want to hide

Balancing Makeup and Healthy Skin

Balancing Makeup and Healthy Skin

Yes, it’s completely possible to apply makeup and have healthy skin. As mentioned above, the key is in moderate application, and the following tips can be extremely helpful as well:

  • Never go for the “mask” effect on your face
  • Always read the list of ingredients
  • Ideally, you should go for products labeled as non-comedogenic which means they don’t clog your pores
  • Never use makeup products after their expiration date
  • Never use too many products throughout the day; you don’t need full makeup all day every day, particularly not at work
  • Invest in a quality makeup remover and remove your makeup as soon as you get home
  • Go for products labeled as “fragrance free” instead of “unscented”. Products that are “unscented” still contain some fragrances that are used to cover up the smell of other ingredients. When you choose fragrance free products, you’re saving your face a lot of unnecessary trouble; about 3000 different chemicals are used as fragrance
  • Go for a high quality cleanser or toner that will remove all impurities from your skin, including makeup residue e.g. Maxatone which is an all-natural toner that removes skin-dulling impurities without causing irritation
  • After removing makeup and cleansing your face before bedtime, don’t forget to apply a rich night cream that will work on recovering your skin while you’re sleeping. For example, Suvoderm nighttime rescue repair treatment is a quick-absorbing product that nourishes your skin and protects it while you sleep


Excessive makeup combined with various particles from your environment can cause a significant damage to your skin, such as slowing down skin cell turnover, thus affecting the skin renewal process. The key to having great skin even when you’re using makeup daily is to apply cosmetic products in moderation and to always remove makeup before bedtime.


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