Makeup products and tools reflected on a mirror in Dubai on April 15, 2020. Mais Othman.

Can Makeup be Good for You and Your Skin?

Cystic acne was never an issue for Yomna when she was young, as she recalls being known as the girl with clear skin. However, around the age of 17, Yomna started to have cystic acne and began to lose some of her self-confidence. She then desperately looked for solutions, and makeup seemed like an immediate fix.

“I always felt the need to hide my face because of how bad my acne was,” Yomna Fakhry, a 20-year-old Egyptian student, said in a phone interview. “Makeup helped me emotionally heal from that.”

Fakhry also went to a dermatologist who prescribed her with antibiotics for two weeks, but when that didn’t work, she took another treatment for seven months, which then treated her acne.

Picture courtesy of Yomna Fakhry.

Many people wear makeup to boost their confidence, and may even perceive makeup as a form of expression through art. However, many people also oppose the idea of wearing makeup, and instead, call for embracing one’s natural self. Many also believe that makeup harms the skin.

Dr. Thanaa Ward, a specialist dermatologist, said that no matter how long and frequently a person wears makeup, and no matter what brand a person uses, it will always negatively impact the skin since it clogs the skin’s pores.

“Clogged pores are the most common side effect of wearing makeup,” Dr. Ward said in a phone interview. “These clogged pores can accelerate infection, and produce comedones under the skin, which are blackheads that make the skin rough. There can also be dead cells inside the skin, which can cause keratin accumulation, so more acne lesion or folliculitis will develop.”

Dr. Ward says that if one is to wear makeup, then finding the products that suit this person’s skin type is essential. She also advises on wearing makeup only on occasions, or at most, every other day, for five hours maximum, and to then properly clean the skin. She advises against sleeping with makeup on, as it may have dire consequences on the skin that may be difficult to treat.

Skincare products on a shelf in Dubai on April 15, 2020. Mais Othman.

Hoda Abdul Karim, a professional makeup artist and trainer, believes that makeup can improve the skin’s health if used correctly. “Makeup has benefits on the skin if the products have a good base and ingredients in it,” Abdul Karim said in a phone interview. “Cleaning the skin and prepping before makeup also benefits the skin, so when you go to a makeup school, the first thing they teach you is skincare, before makeup, and that plays a huge role on the makeup’s effect on the skin.”

Skincare products and makeup products on a shelf in Dubai on April 15, 2020. Mais Othman.

Fakhry believes that makeup’s effect on her skin is neutral and that the acne she had was purely hormonal. “I wear makeup, and it doesn’t harm my skin, nor do I break out and get large pores. My skin stays the same, but someone else might break out within the next day, just because of using one drop of foundation,” she said. “Every person’s face and body is different, and people react differently to different things, so this isn’t a topic that can be generalized.”

Fakhry said that she now feels more self-confident after having successfully treated her acne, and she also kept her love for makeup. “When I had acne, I used makeup not only to look better, but also to make me feel better, so until now, when I feel down I just pick up my brush and play with makeup.”

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