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Those with sensitive skin understand just how important it is to carefully curate their beauty products to ensure their reactive skin remains free of irritation. Makeup — which can be one of the prime triggers for redness, dryness or flare-ups — is a particularly important category to keep an eye on. After all, trying a new makeup product is often just another opportunity to invoke contact dermatitis (a nonallergic skin reaction to an irritant).
Now, it’s important to note that not all sensitive skin is created equal. Just because you have a sensitivity to one ingredient doesn’t mean you’ll be sensitive to all. And just because you choose a hypoallergenic product, doesn’t mean you won’t have a reaction to it. However, there are a few general rules that are pretty well-known to help prevent reactions in those with sensitive skin.
“Some really common ingredients that cause reactions include products with a fragrance mix, formaldehyde, propylene glycol and alcohol-based products,” says New York-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Orit Markowitz. “People are not born with these skin allergies or irritations and they typically develop over time after repeated exposure. So, it is completely possible that you can go years using a product and suddenly react to it.”
While one size doesn’t fit all when searching for makeup products for sensitive skin, there are a few options that have a good reputation for sparking less reactions due to their gentle ingredients. Here, we’ve found some of the best makeup for sensitive skin.
“This is great for people with sensitive skin since it uses jojoba oil, vitamin E and squalene — all which cater to all skin types,” assures Dr. Markowitz. “[Saie Beauty's] Dew Blush is water-based and contains evening primrose oil to moisturize and soothe skin, as well as fatty acids that can calm any facial irritations. It also gives a beautiful touch of color.”
“One of my number one recommendations to my patients — no matter what their skin type is — is to take a "less is more" approach in terms of the number of products and brands you use,” says Dr. Markowitz. “If you are mixing a lot of different ingredients and brands, it will become extremely difficult to determine what is causing the reaction should you have one.”
This product by Alima Pure only contains four ingredients, so users can rest assured they’re not introducing too many extra components into their routine. This primer powder — which helps makeup stay put all day long — is also free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, dimethicone, petroleum, talc, bismuth oxychloride and nanoparticles.
According to Dr. Markowitz, Tower 28 Beauty is especially safe for those whose skin gets irritated easily. “Not only does is it the only cosmetics brand to adhere to the guidelines set by the National Eczema Association, but the collection is hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested,” she says. “Their cream bronzer is super lightweight, doesn’t contain silicones and features simple ingredients like mango butter and green tea extract to moisturize and calm the skin — all while providing buildable color coverage.”
“This product is light enough to wear throughout the day without clogging pores, but heavy enough to cover any spots or brighten up any areas that need a boost,” says Dr. Markowitz. “The formula is packed with botanicals like arnica to soothe skin and pink algae which is chock full of antioxidants that are key for glowing skin.”
Physicians Formula is a popular drugstore staple for a reason. Not only is the brand extremely affordable, their products are also great quality. This bronzer is hypoallergenic and contains fatty acids and pro-vitamins to help calm skin.
Known for their clean formulas, BareMinerals has one of the best tinted moisturizers available for reactive skin. It contains squalane and hyaluronic acid to lightly moisturize the skin without creating an oily finish, as well as mineral-based sunscreen for sun protection. As a bonus, this gel-cream hybrid gives the skin a flawless finish comparable to foundation (without the heavy residue).
Jane Iredale is a brand born from the vision that makeup should have skin-loving benefits, as well as stellar coverage performance. This contour kit meets those standards. Complete with three matte shades, this kit allows you to sculpt and highlight cheeks without the risk of irritation.
This non-comedogenic powder won’t clog pores, is dermatologist-recommended and is vegan. Plus, it claims to lock in makeup for up to 16 hours of smudge-free wear.
Mineral-based products like this one are a good option for those with a sensitive or acne-prone complexion since they sit on top of the skin and are known to not clog pores. This foundation is also free of talc, dyes, synthetic fragrances and drying alcohol — all of which can be irritating.
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