We are a COVID-secure clinic and require masks to be worn

Skin Issues Caused by Cosmetic Products

At the beginning of this month, we were delighted to open the doors to our brand new, state-of-the-art dermatology clinic, and we have been thrilled with the brilliant feedback of our patients and social media followers.

We can all agree that the ‘new normal’ of Covid-19 is anything but, especially with pressing concerns about the coming colder months, the second wave and the impact they will have on our social, working and school lives. We are also sensitive to the pandemic’s myriad negative mental health effects on the British public.

Now that the wearing of masks is compulsory in most everyday situations, several skin conditions associated with face coverings have become increasingly common, as we discussed in our August blog, ‘Managing Mask-Related Skin Conditions in COVID-19,” however, many people are also finding that due to the stressful conditions of 2020, they are having more skin issues than normal, so we thought it was a good idea to focus on how makeup and other cosmetic products can affect the skin.


While most makeup and cosmetics are marketed as being beneficial in hydrating or protecting the skin in many cases it can lead to issues like dryness, irritation, allergies and clogged pores that can cause acne.

Over time, the use of cosmetics (or even, paradoxically, certain moisturisers) can cause the skin to become flaky and dry, and it can appear tight and ‘dull.’ Whilst it is perfectly OK to wear makeup, especially if it helps improve one’s self-confidence, it should be removed thoroughly to ensure it does not cause further irritation. Having a regular skin routine that works for you will help your skin breathe and heal overnight. We recommend cleansing twice in the evening with your preferred gentle cleanser and then applying a good moisturiser to restore necessary hydration to the skin. Applying sufficient moisturiser is particularly helpful during the colder months as the cold temperature and low humidity result in dry air that pulls moisture out of the skin.

If you struggle with dry or dehydrated skin, avoid cleansers that strip the skin of its natural moisture. These types of cleansers often make the skin feel squeaky clean with a tightening effect, and whilst that may like it is doing good, these cleansers contain harsh ingredients that are too aggressive for delicate facial skin.

When skin gets very dry, it is more prone to wrinkling, but it could even crack which might cause an infection. If your skin is very dry, it might be beneficial to give it a break from makeup, and when you resume wearing makeup, it’s a good idea to let moisturiser completely absorb before applying powders or creams that will likely detract from its ability to penetrate and hydrate the skin.

Many of the ingredients in skincare products (even those that claim to be designed for ‘sensitive skin’) contain preservatives and fragrances, which can trigger an inflammation of the skin known as dermatitis caused by contact with the irritant. It can be a struggle deciphering long ingredients lists, making it hard to understand what is helping your skin, or what may be causing adverse reactions. Whilst skin responds to ingredients differently, it can be useful to know what your products contain, and so we have compiled a list of ingredients that are great for dry skin and ones which may be worth avoiding.

Good ingredients:

  • Glycerin
  • Orange oil
  • Squalane
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Aloe vera
  • Ceramides

Ingredients to avoid:

  • Alcohol
  • SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate)
  • Strong essential oils

Adverse reactions

Sometimes an allergic reaction can occur after the skin has become sensitised – meaning an allergic response can happen after the initial exposure to an allergen. An allergy is when the body's immune system reacts to a substance coming into in contact with the skin. Common symptoms include red, itchy bumps and can turn into dry, thick patches of scaly skin. Topical corticosteroids and antihistamines available over-the-counter at the chemist may be helpful, but it’s best to avoid the product that caused the issue.

Acne caused by the use of makeup often leads to tiny bumps presenting on the cheeks, chin or forehead, also known as the “t-zone.” Products applied to the skin have the potential to clog the pores, so it’s essential to look for one that is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores. If makeup aggravates acne, it’s best to avoid products that are oil-based, and to make sure to wash the skin with a mild cleanser, keep any brushes or applicators clean, and never share makeup brushes or skin cleaning tools with others.

If you’re struggling with skin conditions and wanting to know more about what you can do to limit them, you might want to review our September blog on how what you eat affects your skin.

We look forward to welcoming you to our state-of-the-art clinic in Shepherds Hill next, and we’d be delighted if you’d like to stay in touch with us either by signing up to our newsletters, or on social media - you can find us on Twitter and on Instagram @DermaReading.

Book your consultation

For more information, or to book an appointment with one of our dermatologists, please call the clinic or contact us.