Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Kick the Habit!: How wearing foundation might be ruining your skin

Why do women wear foundation? 

Some women wear makeup strictly out of habit. They automatically put it on without thinking. Others wear it because they are told they should. Many women wear foundation to even out their skin tone. Some women simply like to wear it. 

At the cosmetic counter, the sales staff will tell you how good foundation is for your skin, how it contains sunscreen, protects you from the outside environment, and can help to even out your coloring. All of this is true. Many foundations do contain sunscreens, and using sunscreen is very important. Foundation does add another layer between you and the dirt, debris, and pollution in the air. Finally, foundation will even out your skin tone, and this is the “benefit” I want to discuss.

The meaning of the phrase to even out skin tone has eluded me for years. The skin all over your body has certain intrinsic characteristics to it—color, texture, moles, and freckles. Hardly anyone has totally “even” skin tone. Once in a while I come across someone who has perfect coloring, and inevitably even she has covered up perfection with foundation. A woman will make everything evened out on her face, while the rest of her body looks natural, having a flow to the tone and coloring of her skin. In other words, the skin on her body looks normal and unaffected. How many times have you seen a perfectly made-up face, then looked at that person’s arms, shoulders, or neck only to see the skin’s natural tone?

Foundation gives you a matte canvas on which to paint, a single-toned pallet to apply color to. Skin, however, is not usually this monochrome. It is full of imperfections and color differences, freckles, and pigmentation. I’m not talking about obvious, dark pigmentation spots or port-wine stains, for instance. I’m referring to women who have perfectly normal skin tone with naturally occurring pigmentation. Trying to cover up these small differences is, I believe, an attempt to cover up self-described flaws that I don’t see as flaws at all. Wearing color (eyes, lips, cheeks) is fine. That’s purely personal preference. Why can’t we just stop there?

Foundation is actually not good for your skin. It acts as an occlusive covering over the skin. Its purpose is to remain on the surface, not to penetrate like a moisturizer. So it stays on top, just sitting there. As you hopefully know, your skin doesn’t breathe from the outside in, so foundation doesn’t keep your skin from breathing. It does, however, inhibit elimination. And your skin will absorb some of the foundation. After all, it’s just sitting there all day long. Undoubtedly some of it will seep into your pores. And when this happens, the pores can enlarge. Foundation can cause congestion as well, especially if you have an oily skin type. If you have breakout and are using foundation, you are just fueling the very problem the foundation is attempting to cover up.

It’s not as though you can wake up tomorrow and simply stop wearing it; foundation is a habit. Since you’re used to seeing yourself look a certain way, I think weaning yourself off the look of foundation is the best way to change this particular habit. Start by adding water to your base makeup to thin it out. By the time you put foundation on this way, it’s almost as though you have none on at all. So why wear it? Use this thinned-out foundation and gradually put less and less on until you’re used to seeing your skin with hardly anything covering it. Eventually, just stop putting foundation on at all. Your eyes will have adjusted to what you’re seeing in the mirror, and those around you will have adjusted to your new look as well. 

All of the women I’ve encouraged to stop wearing foundation are ecstatic. They never thought they could go without, and now that they have, they love it! Their skin looks and feels better; they don’t get foundation all over their clothes or worry if it needs touching up. They feel free and liberated.

Do you need to free yourself from this unnecessary step? Try to wean yourself off foundation and see how it goes. Worst case scenario—you go back to wearing it. But please know it serves no beneficial purpose to the skin. Or rather, any benefits you may derive from wearing foundation, like shielding you from the environment and adding an SPF to your skin, are totally outweighed by the detrimental effects, which are clogging, congestion, and enlarged pores. Health is the only foundation. 

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