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Makeup For Sensitive Skin

by Amelia Murray-Cooper

photography courtesy of Amanda Willis

Choosing makeup for sensitive skin can be tricky. On the one hand, it is important to find products that are powerful enough to get the job done by offering effective coverup and enhancement. However, these items should also be gentle enough to not cause additional irritation or breakouts.

With this conflict of interests, the aisles of both drugstores and high-end beauty stores can often feel daunting. Luckily, there are plenty of products available at a variety of price points that offer a balance between beauty and sensitivity.

Get to Know Yourself

Sensitive skin comes in all different types, so it is important for shoppers to figure out what will best suit their needs before hitting the foundation section.

For sensitive skin that leans toward the dryer side, steer clear of matte foundations and instead pick up products with creamy textures and satin finishes to avoid flaking and cracking. In contrast, people with oilier skin should look for liquid products with a shine-free finish or opt for tinted powders to soak up excess oil.

“It took years for me to figure out which skin tone I have,” said Jenna Lanciani (Wheelock ’19).

Lanciani now knows how to cater to her dry skin with dewy and radiant makeup products, such as the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer.

Preparation Makes Perfect

Before applying foundation to sensitive skin, it is important to have a healthy routine of cleansing and moisturizing to ensure that the makeup sits evenly on the skin. Moisturizers formulated for sensitive skin, like the Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion, should be gently applied with clean fingertips right after washing the face to lock in moisture.

Sprays like the Derma E Facial Moisturizer Hyaluronic Hydrating Mist will also do the trick and can be paired with creams to provide intense nourishment. Before putting on makeup, make sure to clean makeup brushes on a regular basis to prevent the buildup of bacteria that will bother skin.

Simpler is Better

When it comes to choosing a foundation, products with excessively long ingredients lists should be avoided, as they are more likely to include chemicals that will further irritate and inflame skin.

Makeup that contains alcohols or fragrances should be steered clear of at all costs, as these substances are known to cause dryness and redness. Some people are more sensitive to specific chemicals than others, like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, so it is important to keep track of personal irritants.

Molly Cohen (Wheelock ’19) relates to the struggle of finding makeup products for her sensitive skin.

“It can be really hard to find makeup that doesn’t irritate my skin, so I try to stick with the same brands that work for me and avoid brands with a reputation of being harsh,” Cohen said.

As a general rule of thumb, foundations with simpler, more natural formulas will be easier to remove and will cause less pore clogging while being gentler on the skin, thus minimizing breakouts in the future.

Finding a Foundation

The Maybelline Fit Me Foundation is known for providing reliable results while being gentle enough on the skin and is offered in both matte and dewy textures. People can choose between these options if searching for an affordable product that will cater to easily irritated skin.

For a high-end alternative, the Too Faced Born This Way Foundation is a favorite amongst sensitive-skinned shoppers, as it does not irritate dry spots and provides a natural finish.

Instead of an intense coverage foundation, there is also the option of a BB cream to provide light coverage while giving the skin a chance to breathe.

“I rarely use foundation because it always feels heavy on my skin, but BB creams are perfect for me,” said Cohen.

The Revlon Photoready BB Cream is an affordable favorite for college student budgets, whereas the Bobbi Brown BB Cream SPF 35 is a high-end product that will offer ideal results. It is always a good idea to look for products that include SPF to protect sensitive skin from harmful UV rays and keep it looking youthful, so this additional bonus of BB creams is perfect for people prone to sensitivity.

Ultimately, people with sensitive skin know that trying new makeup can be stressful. Just remember that it’s good to keep an open mind and give the skin a chance to adjust to new products before making judgements.

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