Foundation can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it works miracles at covering up skin imperfections. On the other—if you’re using the wrong formula—it can cause sensitive and acne-prone skin to react, leaving it worse than it was. The solution? Drop the formula, asap! Certain ingredients in your makeup can cause acne, rashes, and in extreme cases, eczema. Good news? Some brands make foundation formulations especially geared for skin that’s a little more high-maintenance. And according to Washington, D.C.-based dermatologist Amy Wechsler, M.D., it’s all about checking the label, first. So before forking over the cash, scan her list of foundation no-no’s below.
Fragrance of any kind. “Even if it’s the very last item on the ingredients list—meaning there is only a tiny amount—it can be a problem,” explains Dr. Wechsler. “The term ‘fragrance’ is often a blanket term for a hoard of potential irritants you probably don’t even know you’re allergic to.”
Cinnamates. “They’re used in some sunscreens (where they’re usually listed as methylcinnamate) and lipsticks.”
Lanolin and mineral oil. “Many people react to these oils, although they’ve been around for centuries and remain a fairly common ingredient in skin treatments.”
Helioplex. “It’s a relatively new sunscreen agent that does an excellent job at blocking both UVA and UVB rays, but I’d say 99% of the sunscreen rashes I saw during the summer of 2007, when it really hit the market, were Helioplex related,” says Dr. Wechsler.
Sorbic Acid. “Used in prescription retinoid creams as a preservative, this potent ingredient is extremely powerful, and can cause an instant reaction. Most people presume it is the retinoid causing a rash when in fact, it’s the sorbic acid.”
Beautylish’s Favorite Foundation Brands for Sensitive Skin
Free of oils, fragrances, glutens, and parabens, Cover FX’s silky formulations are suitable for even the most sensitive of skin types. Plus, their new Total Coverage Cream Foundation comes in over 30 shades and can be used as a concealer and a foundation.
With roots in dermatology and plastic surgery, Youngblood was created specifically for patients suffering from raw, inflamed, and discolored skin. Their mineral foundation formula allows skin to breathe while still providing maximum coverage.
After battling acne and skin issues as a teenager, Lorac founder Carol Shaw ensured that none of her products contain fragrances, oils, or harsh chemicals. Instead, they’re packed full of soothing plant extracts, emollients, and moisturizers.