Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Make-Up for Acne Prone Skin October 3, 2011

Filed under: Acne,make-up — askanesthetician @ 5:46 am
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One of the most prevalent side effects of chronic acne is low esteem.  It is hard to feel confident about facing the outside world when you feel that you don’t look your best.  For that reason applying make-up to conceal breakouts is important in order for you to both look your best and feel your best.

In her book Feed Your Face Dr. Jessica Wu gives a few reasons to wear make-up if you are acne prone (page 29):

Breakouts are typically caused by bacteria, hormonal fluctuations, and the foods you eat – not by Laura Mercier.  In face, some makeup can even be good for you.  Certain cosmetics can provide SPF protection, which is great for those of us who sometimes forget to put on sunscreen.  (You know who you are.)  Wearing makeup may also remind you not to touch your face as often, cutting down on the transfer of germs from your hands.  And as long as you’re choosing the right makeup for your skin, it shouldn’t make you break out.  If you have oily skin, large pores, or acne-prone skin, look for a water-based makeup that is noncomedogenic.

I’ve had acne for a long time (20 plus years) and am continually finding myself in the position of having to cover up pimples and the red marks left on my face after a pimple has faded.  For these pimples and marks my best friend is a green concealer that helps counteract the redness.  Since red and green are opposite colors on the color wheel when green is applied to red it cancels it out.  Two products to try are Physicians Formula Conceal Rx in soft green (a little bit goes a long way) and GloMinerals Corrective Camouflage Kit.  After applying the green concealer apply a flesh toned concealer on top.  It usually works well to pat concealer on blemishes instead of rubbing or even using a concealer brush, but how you apply your concealer is really up to you.

Using a powder foundation that gives sheer, yet full coverage is a great option for acne prone skin.  Be sure that the make-up is labeled “oil free”, “non-comedogenic”, “ok for oily skin”,  “ok for acne skin”, or some combination of words like that.  Apply with a fluffy brush until you get the coverage that you want.  You could also use liquid foundation if that is what you prefer.

There are lots of make-up products out there that promise to not only conceal your blemishes but to heal them as well with the addition of ingredients like tea tree oil, salicylic acid, or sulfur.  It is best not to expect a huge change in how your acne looks when using make-up like this since the percentage of these ingredients in this type of make-up is negligible and will probably not do anything for your breakouts.  It is best to look for anti-acne ingredients in your skincare products as opposed to your make-up.  Buy make-up because of the lasting coverage, the ease of use, and color match instead of all the extras it promises.

For in-depth tips on using make-up for color correction see Beauty Etc.’s Come Color Correct.

More tips:


Make-Up for the Make-Up Phobic September 29, 2011

Filed under: beauty,make-up — askanesthetician @ 7:49 am
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I rarely, if ever, meet a woman who doesn’t need make-up.  But I do regularly meet women who either refuse to believe that they will look better with make-up or say that they do not have neither the time or inclination to apply make-up.  Make-up doesn’t need to be complicated to look good, and with so many make-up products out there even the most make-up phobic person can find some easy and quick products to use that will make them look great.

So if you are make-up phobic or a make-up hater consider how the following products are all easy to use and are all going to make you look much better, yet natural.  Just one note about natural looking make-up – these tips are not meant to help you achieve a “no make-up, make-up look”.  The “no make-up, make-up look” takes a lot of products and a real time committment to achieve.  These tips are meant for those people who currently leave the house with a bare face.

Everyone needs a good concealer:  Even if your skin generally looks smooth and even toned there is going to be a time when you’ll need to cover-up dark undereye circles, blemishes, redness, and hyperpigmentation.  For that reason I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a concealer at home in order to correct skin imperfections.  I refuse to leave the house without undereye concealer.  Sometimes you can use the same product under your eyes as you can on your face, other times you need separate products.

There is a foundation out there for everyone:  If you really feel like you don’t want to apply make-up in the morning consider this – a flawless looking complexion goes a long way in making you polished and put together.  You don’t even need foundation all over your face everyday.  You can place foundation (and blend well) in the spots where you feel you need it most.  No one truly has a flawless looking complexion – that is why foundation was invented.  Pressed powder foundation, applied quickly with a fluffy brush, is the perfect foundation for almost everyone in particular those people with acne or those with normal to oily skin.  Pressed mineral foundation powder goes on lightly and smoothly and gives you an airbrushed looked.  For those who skin is on the drier side try a tinted moisturizer which is a great 2 in 1 product – you get the moisture your skin needs while easily evening out your skin tone.  The result is very natural.

Make sure your Brows Look Great:  I cannot emphasize enough the power of a well-groomed brow enough.  Everyone has a different idea of how their brows should look – thin or thick, high arch or low arch – in the long run it matters less than making sure your brows look great.  This also means for many people filling in their brows with brow powder or brow pencil (or both).  Try it for a few days – you’ll notice that as soon as your brows look good you look more polished instantly.

Use Some Eye Make-Up:  Mastering eye make-up can be complicated.  I’ll admit that I am still working on mastering liquid eyeliner.  It’s my Achilles heel.  Great looking eye make-up doesn’t need to be complicated.  Consider just curling your eyelashes and applying some mascara.  Instantly you look better.  There is no need to apply three different shades of eye shadow everyday.  Find a shade of eyeshadow that is slightly lighter than your lid color.  Apply that eye shadow from your lash line all the way to your brows in order to brighten and highlight your eyes.  Or apply that shade from your lash line to just above your crease.  Use a little black or brown eyeliner on your top lash line.  The more you practice this quick eye make-up look the faster you’ll be able to apply it and get out the door.  To make your eye make-up last longer use a lid primer first or simply dab a very little bit of foundation on your lids to smooth and help the product last longer.

Apply a Little Blush:  For most people adding a little, subtle color to their cheeks makes them look healthy and vibrant.  No need to go crazy with the blush.  Simply smile at yourself in the mirror – start applying blush on the apples of your cheeks and sweep up toward your hairline.  Blend into your hairline.  The application of blush makes a positive difference in most people’s appearance especially for those people who are on the pale side.

When All Else Fails Apply Lipgloss:  Lip color is transformative and uplifting.  It is no surprise that as countries sink into economic or political crisis the sales of lipstick never suffer.  You can layer your lip products for longer lasting results – a lip balm to smooth, a lip pencil outline or all over your lips to help lip color adhere better and not feather, and then lipstick on top.  Or you can simply buy a tinted lip balm, preferably one with spf.  Another great thing about lip gloss is that you don’t need a mirror to reapply it.  Applying lip gloss is easy to do and gives you great results.

Consider Multipurpose Make-up:  Some make-up can do double duty – for instance products meant for both cheeks and lips like Nars The Multiple or GloMinerals Lip and Cheek Stains (to mention just two out of many available products).  Or get a primer (like this Smashbox one) that also corrects skin imperfections.

Once you are ready for more lessons and extra daily make-up steps be sure to check out Allure‘s online make-up video how-tos.

And check out Prevention’s tips for natural looking make-up.


Mineral Make-up: The Best Make-up Out There? August 8, 2011

Is mineral make-up the best make-up out there or is mineral make-up just a lot of hype?  In my opinion, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

The Case Against Mineral Make-up

In the August, 2011 issue of Allure five cosmetic chemists were interviewed for their opinions on which beauty products they admire, which products they think are overrated, beauty dilemmas they would like to solve, and what they think will be the next big beauty breakthrough.  Ni’Kita Wilson, vice president of research and innovation at Englewood Lab, listed mineral make-up as the beauty product she thought was the most overrated.  According to Wilson:

It seems strange to me to label colored cosmetics as ‘mineral’ when really they all contain minerals.  It makes it seem as if the product is made entirely of minerals, when many actually have the same mineral content as traditional makeup.

Paula Begoun has the following to say against mineral make-up:

When all is said and done, after you’ve cut through the hype, misleading information, and lies, mineral makeup is truly nothing more then powder (though now most companies are calling every product they make “mineral” regardless of what it is). It is not revolutionary, safe, or unique in any way. By any name, technically speaking, mineral makeup is simply a type of powder foundation. If you apply a light layer it serves as a finishing powder. Apply a little more and it works more like a layer of foundation providing light to medium (and, depending on the product, nearly full) coverage. In essence, mineral makeup is merely loose or pressed powder created from a blend of “powdery” substances. The hype behind it being different or special for skin is just that: hype.

Another thing to watch out for is the claim or misunderstanding that mineral make-up is “natural” and thus better for your skin.  Be sure to check out the make-up’s ingredients before falling for that claim.  As Paula Begoun explains:

Ironically the original lines to launch “mineral” makeup were about as natural as polyester. Companies like Youngblood, Bare Escentuals,and Jane Iredale used bismuth oxychloride as the main “mineral” ingredient, yet bismuth oxychloride is not found in nature! Bismuth oxychloride is manufactured by combining bismuth, a by-product of lead and copper metal refining (dregs of smelting if you will) mixed with chloride (a compound from chlorine), and water. Its use in cosmetics is due to its distinct shimmery, pearlescent appearance and its fine white powder texture that adheres well to skin. That doesn’t make it bad for skin, it just makes the marketing claims utterly false and ludicrous.

On the downside, bismuth oxychloride is heavier than talc and can look cakey on skin. For some people, the bismuth and chloride combination can be irritating. All the claims revolving around how mineral makeups are better for skin or are somehow equivalent to skin care is nothing more than clever marketing.

Ironically, mineral make-up got its start as a natural alternative to conventional cosmetics.  According to the WebMD article, What’s Up with Mineral Makeup?, the use of natural ingredients to create cosmetics is an ancient tradition – think Egyptian kohl or prehistoric warrior decked out in body paint.  The modern development of mineral make-up came in the 1970s:

So who first successfully marketed the concept? One pioneer was Diane Ranger, the cosmetic chemist who founded Bare Escentuals in 1976 and later started Colorescience Pro, another mineral line. She developed her first mineral cosmetics because she felt there was a need and market for natural ingredients and a natural look and feel.

“In 1976, cosmetics firms were required to list ingredients on their products for the first time, and I was shocked at what we were putting on our skin,” says Ranger, who had grown up wearing heavy, traditional makeup.

Then I went through my ‘hippy girl’ phase and discarded makeup along with my bra,” she says.

So while the initial desire was to create a natural and safe alternative to traditional make-up the present collection of mineral products can be anything but.  As mineral make-up took off every cosmetic company, large and small, high-end or drugstore, added mineral products to their inventory.  This phenomenon is a product of marketing and consumer demand as opposed to an endorsement of mineral make-up as a superior cosmetic product.

Is There Something Special in Mineral Make-up?

According to the WebMD article mentioned above:

To make your makeup, minerals such as iron oxides, talc, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide are micronized, or ground and milled, into increasingly tiny particles. “Different products micronize to different levels,” says Ranger. “A product micronized to six times leaves minerals larger so they go on the skin with light to medium coverage. Products micronized 12 times create fine-size particles that sit closer together and offer more coverage.”

Are pulverized pebbles all that are in your mineral makeup, really? The true difference from conventional makeup is what’s not in mineral makeup.

“It generally does not contain the emollient oils and waxes, fragrance, and preservative ingredients found in conventional formulations,” Hammer says. “Mineral products are usually preservative-free, and since they have very low odor, they are often also fragrance-free,” he says, noting that preservatives and fragrance are frequently what cause irritation.

To ensure you’re buying a quality mineral makeup product, he says, read the label. You are probably getting more than just ground-up rocks if the label reads “mineral-enriched” or if the formulation is liquid or mousse; these products may contain ingredients such as paraben preservatives or dimethicone added for a smooth texture. Nonpowders might also contain moisturizers, antioxidant vitamins, or other ingredients that your skin can use, so it’s up to you to weigh the benefits against your needs.

Mineral Make-up Pros

So what are the pros about mineral make-up?  In my opinion there are quite a few:

  1. Mineral make-up powders give sheer coverage that is buidable and blendable.  You do not feel as if you are wearing a lot of make-up and you don’t look like you are either.  The powders can give you skin perfecting coverage.
  2. Mineral make-up powders will not clog your pores so they are a good option for those who have acne or who are acne-prone.  Apparently there is a belief that mineral make-up can clear up acne and this is false, but it certainly will not contribute to acne.
  3. Mineral make-up has a high concentration of zinc oxide and titanium oxide which means it is anti-inflammatory and good for sensitive skin.  Though both of these ingredients are anti-sun ingredients, aka they are physical sunscreen ingredients, if your mineral make-up does not have an actual spf rating do not assume that your make-up will give you sun protection.  Mineral make-up can contribute to sun protection, but if it does not have a spf rating be sure to apply a sunscreen first before applying your make-up.  (I always advocate having a separate sunscreen and not relying on your make-up to give you sun protection)
  4. Mineral make-up naturally has antioxidants in it so that means you are getting protection from free radicals with every make-up application.  Our skin only benefits from the topical use of antioxidants so that is an added bonus when you use mineral make-up.
  5. Minerals are inert so true mineral make-up cannot hold bacteria which means your mineral pressed powder can be safe to use for years after you first open the package.  Keep in mind though if an outside substance like water mixes with your make-up bacteria most certainly has gotten into your make-up.

Mineral Make-up Tip:

All powder foundations can sink into wrinkles and fine lines so if you like using a mineral make-up be sure to apply a primer first so that won’t happen.


While there is plenty to like about mineral make-up be sure not to be caught up in the hype that comes along with this make-up.  If your favorite brand of make-up happens to be mineral make-up then keep using it.  If you have acne, rosacea, or have sensitive skin and have not tried mineral make-up consider giving it a try.

Sources and Further Reading:


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