Nailing a picture-perfect glam goes beyond a few quick taps of foundation and swipes of mascara. Much like skin care application, there are tips and tricks to mastering the art of an #motd—especially if your skin errs on the side of sensitive or redness-prone. Because your skin can get easily irritated, applying makeup over sensitive or redness-prone skin requires a few techniques to help cover up some of the discolorations without making your skin condition worse.
To find out how to solve these makeup woes, we went to the experts for tried-and-true makeup hacks and products for sensitive and redness-prone skin types. But, first, let’s brush up on our sensitive-skin knowledge.
What Is Sensitive Skin
Sensitive skin is caused by a multitude of factors. From dehydration—which causes the skin to feel ultra-dry and itchy—to ingredient irritation to skin conditions (think: psoriasis flare-ups, breakouts and eczema) that cause the complexion to feel uncomfortable, as even the most normal of skin types can experience a bout of sensitivity from time to time. That said, sensitive skin is not just a side effect, it’s also considered a skin type, as many men and women experience some form of skin sensitivity on the regular.
Choosing the Right Formulas
One of the biggest things to consider when using products on sensitive skin—whether that be skin care or makeup—is formulation. Because of the sensitive sensations experienced among this skin type, using harsh formulas with certain active ingredients, fragrances and other potential irritants can wreak havoc on the complexion and cause sensitive skin to worsen and may even result in visible irritation via redness, rashes and breakouts.
“Skin sensitivities are often caused by products that people use,” says Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “People with sensitive and redness-prone skin need ingredients that won’t irritate or aggravate their skin,” she adds. With that in mind, she suggests keeping an eye on both skin care and makeup labels and looking out for the most common skin irritants, which include fragrance, parabens and formaldehyde. “Fragrances are sometimes hidden in face creams and detergents and this can be very irritating to people with sensitive skin,” notes Jaliman. In addition, she explains that formaldehyde is sometimes used in formulas and “can cause an allergic reaction in the skin, especially in those with sensitive skin,” she says.
As for what ingredients to look out for, Dr. Jaliman says it’s all about hydration. “Dehydrated skin can lead to issues like inflammation, especially for those with sensitive skin,” she notes. Some ingredients she suggests adding into your routine include hyaluronic acid, glycerin, shea butter and ceramides. All four of these ingredients help draw in moisture, nourish the skin and lock in hydration to prevent further drying.
Makeup Tips for Sensitive and Redness-Prone Skin
Before you go full glam—especially with a product you’ve never used before—be sure to patch test. Applying a small amount to the inside of the wrist can hint at how the complexion might react to the formula. If the makeup (or skin care) product causes any kind of irritation on the wrist, it’s likely going to disturb your complexion, too.
Once you’re confident in your formulas—i.e. you select products that are safe to use on sensitive skin—it’s time to get down to business. When applying makeup to sensitive skin (especially those who experience redness in addition to sensitivities), prepping the skin is one of the most important steps. Here are some of the top tips and tricks for sensitive skin for a more flawless makeup application:
The first step in skin prep is to cleanse the complexion. “Start by cleansing your face with a gentle cleanser and warm water,” celebrity makeup artist Aliana Lopez suggests. However, Lopez says you want to double check what type of cleanser you’re using—and switch it up seasonally. “During the drier [and] colder months, I like to use oil cleansers,” she says. As for the hotter, more humid season, you might want to change over to something more lightweight—such as a foam or micellar water—with hydrating benefits.
Once your skin is cleansed, Lopez says to set your focus on hydration. Applying moisture to sensitive skin can make the world of a difference, as it can protect against a drying sensation or worse, dehydration. As Dr. Jaliman mentions above, parched skin can easily irritate (especially on sensitive skin), so protecting with a layer of moisture is key. But, before you slather on your favorite creams and lotions, Lopez says to take your time in order to truly reap the benefits of your products.