5 Makeup Rules for Sensitive, Acne-Prone Skin

These five commandments for acne-prone and sensitive skin can help you achieve a smooth complexion without breakouts, irritation, or redness.

Caring for sensitive, acne-prone skin can feel like a full-time job, particularly if you're not sure what's triggering your breakouts or sensitivity. Cosmetics often make matters worse by irritating, drying, or congesting your skin.

5 Makeup Rules for Sensitive, Acne-Prone Skin


These five simple makeup rules can help you rein in even the most stubbornly sensitive skin while getting a flawless makeup finish every day.

1. Get Real About Your Skin

To combat acne and breakouts, you need to know why your skin reacts the way it does. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does my skin change seasonally? If so, you might have combination skin or a seasonal allergy.
  • Does my skin tend to develop dry patches? Dry skin can trigger breakouts when dead cells clog pores and traps oil. Dry skin is also less protected by natural oils.
  • How quickly after applying makeup does my skin look shiny? Oily skin will shine within a few hours, while dry skin may actually get drier as the day goes on.
  • Do I have other unexplained symptoms? Sensitive skin accompanied by gastrointestinal distress, frequent illness, or fertility issues can signal a health problem such as diabetes or PCOS.

2. Keep a Skincare Log

If you can't narrow down the causes of your skin's sensitivity, consider keeping a skincare log for two weeks so that you can really get to know your complexion. You might be surprised by the patterns you uncover. Make note of:

  • How your skin looks and feels every day—including its texture, physical appearance, and whether it itches or is uncomfortable.
  • Each and every skin reaction, including acne, rashes, and dry patches.
  • Which products you use each day. Don't forget to include shampoos and other products that make incidental contact with your face.
  • Whether you took any medications, including vitamins, herbs, or over-the-counter medications.
  • What you ate each day, since food sensitivities can sometimes trigger skin issues.
  • The weather, including temperature and precipitation.
  • Whether anything about your life (such as stress level) or routine (such as exercise level) was different.

You may find that some lifestyle issues trigger skin reactions, or you may notice that your reactions hinge entirely on specific ingredients in your makeup. Eliminate these ingredients, and you may soon see a major improvement.


5 Makeup Rules for Sensitive, Acne-Prone Skin


3. Invest in a Foundation Primer

Primer is an all-purpose corrector that can address just about every skin issue, from uneven skin tone and redness to acne and irritation. Choose a primer that's free of irritants, and steer clear of any product not specifically designed for your skin type.

4. Choose the Right Foundation and Concealer

You might get away with ill-advised foundation experiments on normal skin. But when your skin is acne-prone or sensitive, the wrong foundation can trigger reactions that take weeks to get under control.

Oily skin can benefit from treatment formulas that combat acne as they conceal it. We've compiled a list of acne-friendly makeup to help you sort through your options.

If your skin tends towards dryness, don't use products formulated for acne-prone skin. You'll end up with painfully dry skin and may trigger a sensitivity reaction. Instead, select creamy moisturising foundations, which help restore your skin's oil balance while combating sensitivity.

5. Practise Diligent—But Not Overzealous—Cleansing

An acne-friendly makeup regimen is about much more than just slapping on the right product and hoping for the best. You can combat reactions before they start with the right cleansing and skincare routine.

No matter how good your makeup is, it can and will clog your pores and irritate your skin if you sleep in it. So gently cleanse your skin with a product designed for your skin type each night. Better still, take off your makeup as soon as you no longer need to wear it, so your skin has time to breathe.

Of course, there's absolutely too much of a good thing. Scrubbing your skin, unnecessary or frequent washing, and harsh cleansers can all have the opposite effect of what you hope for.

Cleanse no more than twice per day, and limit your use of chemical and mechanical exfoliants to no more than two to three times per week. And don't forget to moisturise after each cleansing session!


5 Makeup Rules for Sensitive, Acne-Prone Skin

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