Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Can Make-up Actually Improve Your Skin? March 6, 2014

Filed under: beauty,make-up — askanesthetician @ 8:00 am
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The older I get the more I need make-up.  Though that doesn’t mean that I won’t leave the house without a full face of make-up it does mean that I have realized that a few strategically placed make-up products do make a big difference in my appearance.  Some days I have the time and the inclination to put on eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara along with my other essential make-up steps, and other days I just make sure that I fill in my brows with brow powder, use undereye concealer, face powder, face concealer, and a little lip tint.  It’s the little things that can make a big impact.  You don’t have to use a lot of make-up to look polished and put together even if all you are doing is going to the grocery store.  No one has flawless skin; everyone has a beauty feature or two that make-up can help look better.  For instance, my brows are sparse so filling them in with brow powder makes a big impact on my face.  I never seem to get enough sleep so using undereye concealer helps me look more rested.  And no matter how much skincare knowledge I amass my skin still has post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, blackheads, breakouts, and blotchiness so using a foundation (either powder or cream) and a concealer makes me feel like I am putting my best face forward to the world (even if that world is just the grocery store clerks and patrons).  Make-up gives you confidence.  Make-up is fun.

But some people still worry that wearing make-up on a daily basis, particularly foundation, is actually bad for their skin instead of good for it.  There is a persistent skincare myth that our skin needs to “breathe” and by wearing make-up we are preventing that important function from taking place.  I’ve already debunked this myth in a previous post: Does Your Skin Need to Detoxify/Breathe?, but I’ll revisit the topic here briefly. I quoted Discovery Health in that previous post and let me once again share what they had to say about this topic:

Every day, a barrage of advertisements for various cosmetics, oils and ointments assault our eyes and ears, all claiming to “let your skin breathe.” But does your skin actually “breathe”? Does it really take in enough oxygen to keep you alive?

Not unless you’re an amphibian, an earthworm or a Julia Creek dunnart. Although it can’t perform the functions of respiration, your skin can absorb fat-soluble substances, including vitamins A,D, E and K, along with steroid hormones such as estrogen. Many menopausal women, for example, have estrogen patches to thank for their relief from hot flashes, while nicotine patches have relieved cravings for many smokers trying to kick the habit. So, while the skin can’t breathe, it can take substances from the outside and bring them in, including a little oxygen.

The skin and its appendages, such as hair and nails, make up the integumentary system. The word integumentary comes from Latin, meaning “to cover,” and that is the skin’s main purpose — to keep the world out and our internal organs protected. By its very nature, skin does not help us breathe.   …

What does help us breathe is the respiratory system. The respiratory system is responsible for getting oxygen to our blood and removing carbon dioxide from the body. When we inhale, we take in oxygen through our mouth and nose and into the lungs. In the lungs, the oxygen flows into the blood through the arteries, while veins deliver carbon dioxide back to the lungs. From the lungs, we exhale the carbon dioxide back out into the atmosphere, and the process begins again.

So why might we be led to believe that oxygen can pass through the skin?

Misconceptions and Myths

Many people are convinced that we pull in oxygen through our pores, and cosmetic companies capitalize on this belief — at least through unspoken messages — by claiming that their products “let the skin breathe.” If pressed, the manufacturers would probably say what they really mean is that the cosmetics and creams are non-comedogenic, meaning they don’t block pores. This prevents acne from building up, not suffocation. Some companies take it a step further and claim that their products contain oxygen that your skin will absorb. Since your skin doesn’t have the capacity to absorb and use oxygen, dermatologists warn that this is totally bogus. The closest thing to pure oxygen in a skin care product is benzoyl peroxide, which kills acne-causing bacteria by oxidizing fatty acids.

Many people believe the urban legend that Buddy Ebsen, cast as the Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz,” nearly died because the aluminum in the makeup that gave him his silvery sheen clogged his pores. In fact, Ebsen did wind up in the hospital and was replaced, but it was attributed to an allergic reaction or an infection in his lungs caused by the aluminum dust. Needless to say, the makeup was modified for new scarecrow Jack Haley, and he danced through the role without incident.

Another famous movie incident involves 1964′s “Goldfinger.” After discovering his secretary has betrayed him, the villain Goldfinger paints her entirely — hair and all — with gold paint. Looking at her lifeless body, James Bond explains that the paint closed the pores she needed for respiration. In 1964, it seems, this was a medically accepted belief. The filmmakers took no chances and were careful to leave a patch of actress’s Shirley Eaton’s skin unpainted when shooting the scene.

Having gotten that issue out of the way, let’s focus again on the actual topic of this post: can using make-up actually help or even improve the appearance of your skin?  Esthetician Renee Rouleau certainly thinks so:

The fact is, wearing makeup (appropriate for your skin type) offers a barrier of protection against harmful UV rays. UV rays from the sun is the #1 reason for skin aging. It’s not genetics, smoking, and believe it or not, even age. The sun is the skin’s WORST enemy. Most types of makeup contain sunscreen and even if they don’t indicate an SPF number, most have UV-protecting ingredients like Titanium Dioxide. Based on this benefit from wearing makeup, I never leave my skin bare and never suggest my clients to do so either. So do your skin a favor and start wearing makeup NOW, to prevent wrinkles in your future.

(From Is Wearing Foundation Makeup Daily Bad for Your Skin?)

And what of make-up that promises anti-aging or the like?  The New York Times explored this topic in the article Promises from the Powder Room:

Light-reflecting. Acne-fighting. Energizing. Face powder, long associated with grandmothers and a dusty, chalky look, has been remade. Some companies say the product is not only a cosmetic, but also a face treatment, and are loading it with SPF, antioxidants and vitamins. …

Marketing hype aside, some doctors agree that powders pack more of a punch these days. “People have seen the utility of BB creams; they like getting many effects from the same products,” said Dr. Neal Schultz, a cosmetic dermatologist in private practice in Manhattan and founder of DermTV.com. “These are great for people who want fewer products to apply, and an oil absorber.”

But others say that the “poof — all gone” effects that these powders promise are basically stardust and mirrors. “I’m increasingly skeptical with products that over-promise,” said Ron Robinson, a Manhattan chemist specializing in the technology of cosmetic ingredients and the founder of BeautyStat.com, which reviews new products. “Where’s the clinical testing that validates their claims?”

“The blurring component is true,” he said, but “claims that it will reshape, sculpt and improve wrinkles are benefits few skin-care creams and serums designed to plump and firm the skin can offer.”  …

“There’s a real science to these products and to the ingredients in them, which help and maintain the skin,” said Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the dermatology department at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. But he pointed out that a powder’s visual effects vanish once the product is removed; its particles are too big to penetrate skin.

As for long-term benefits: “That has yet to be determined,” Dr. Zeichner said. “If you use products like this on a regular basis and take care of your skin, it’s possible these powders can help slow down the aging process.”  …

Dr. Francesca Fusco, a Manhattan dermatologist, says she is firmly pro-powder, at least when it comes to the new modern products. “A powder won’t replace your moisturizer, serum or retinol, but it’s a great added extra,” she said. “For not a lot of money you can get a flawless look. And that’s better than using nothing.”

So when it comes to your make-up should you trust it to transform your skin long after you remove it?  Personally I am still very skeptical that a few extra ingredients mixed into your cream or powder foundation will be your anti-aging or anti-acne answer, but the better you look the better you feel and that is truly transformative.

My Related Posts:

Image from makeupandbeautyblog.com

 

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.

Conclusion

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:

 

What’s In Your Mascara? November 8, 2010

Ever wonder what the ingredients in your make-up actually do?  Ever wonder how your mascara is able to lengthen, thicken, and/or darken your lashes?  Ok – well maybe you never did wonder, but I’m here to explain anyhow.  I was looking through the latest issue of Wired magazine and came across the following article: What’s Inside: CoverGirl LashBlast Luxe Black Royale Mascara.  The article breaks down the key ingredients in this mascara and explains what each ingredient is meant to do.  Personally I found it very interesting so I thought I would share with my readers:

Disteardimonium Hectorite
This molecule is like a squid with a nitrogen body and fatty alcohol tentacles. Hectorite, a powdery volcanic clay, coats the tentacles, giving them bulk and a positive charge. Since hair has a negative charge, the molecule sticks to lashes, making them seem thicker.

Propylene carbonate
A “safe” and environmentally friendly solvent, this keeps the other ingredients from separating. It’s a polar molecule, meaning that each end of it has a different electrical charge that attracts and repels different materials. But it is also aprotic, meaning it can’t release protons, which could react with those other components in the mascara.

Iron(III) oxide
Don’t wear mascara to a cranial MRI! There is so much of this dark black metallic pigment here (as much as 10 percent by weight) that its ferromagnetic properties can screw up the images, creating a splotch over your eye that the doctor will interpret as melanoma. Why is it here? Think “shiny.”

Panthenol
Dry, brittle lashes can break off, taking up to nine months to grow back. The jury is out as to whether panthenol makes hair grow, but everyone agrees that lashes can at least be conditioned and moisturized by this precursor to vitamin B5, making them less susceptible to snapping in two.

Paraffin and carnauba wax
Paraffin comes from a refinery, carnauba comes from the Brazilian rain forest, but both help carry the various pigments as well as artificially lengthen and thicken the eyelashes.

Triethanolamine
This stuff is a thickener and emulsifier and also lowers the surface tension of the mascara, allowing it to adhere to the brush and the lashes.

Ammonium acrylates copolymer
Listed as “practically nonirritating” when tested on the eyeballs of live rabbits, this emulsifier and pigment disperser gives a nice glossy coating to the eyelash and enhances flexibility under the weight of all that iron oxide.

Bismuth oxychloride
Another pigment with strange magnetic properties. Thanks to variations in the thickness of the oxide layer, this compound creates that shimmery pearlescent look on each eyelash. (This effect used to come from guanine, which is probably how the “bat poop in mascara” rumor got started.)

Dichromium trioxide
A dark-green pigment with odd paramagnetic effects like its cousin, CrO2, a coating for audiotape. Highly resistant to heat, light, and chemicals, this stuff could theoretically be formulated to make your eyelashes reflect infrared light — just like the best military camouflage.

 

I hope everyone found this interesting.  Personally I’ll be looking at my mascara differently from now on.

 

 
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