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Dermatologist’s 3 Best Makeup Tips for Acne Prone Skin

July 6, 2022

Good makeup habits are important for those experimenting with makeup. In this article, we break down essential makeup tips for acne prone skin, including excerpts from Acne Care Bible: Dermatologist’s Tips For Acne Treatment & Prevention by Dr. Teo Wan Lin, dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre.

Acne Care Bible
The Acne Care Bible: Dermatologist’s Tips For Acne Treatment & Prevention is available on Amazon Kindle and all major e-bookstores.

Based on Dr. Teo’s experience as a dermatologist, she advocates awareness of the following topics as part of her makeup tips. Learning about hygiene and care of makeup tools is important. With the availability of skincare knowledge on the internet, empower yourself with knowledge about makeup formulation is helpful. Above all, whether you are a parent of a teenager, a teenager or an adult with acne problems and wish to apply makeup safely and effectively, be sure to instil confidence and self-assurance while you have fun with makeup. Enjoy the journey, experimenting safely and learn to accept and be yourself. 

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Makeup Tips #1: Experimenting with makeup safely 

One of the most important makeup tips is that if you have sensitive skin and are prone to allergic skin reactions, you may wish to patch test all your skincare and makeup products before applying it on. This minimises the risk of moderate to severe allergic reactions. 

A patch test is a simple way of checking if your skin will react to new cosmetics or skincare products, and is a common way to test for allergies. It is important to patch test before you use a new product in order to avoid potential allergic reactions that can cause redness, swelling, irritation, or more.

How to patch test

Simply apply the product on your inner arm and leave it on for one to two hours to watch for any adverse effects such as redness, burning or stinging. If you are worried about delayed reactions, leave on for up to four hours or even overnight to watch for any allergic skin reactions. 

Positive patch test

If your patch test is positive, you may wish to visit an accredited dermatologist for a formal diagnosis of allergic contact dermatitis. Bring the packaging of your makeup along, as the dermatologist will need to review the ingredients that are most likely the cause of the allergic reaction. If deemed necessary, a comprehensive patch test will then be performed at the clinic. 

Negative patch test

If your patch test is negative, it is acceptable to apply the product directly on the area. A word of caution here, wash off products such as cleansers cannot be tested in this way as these products are leave-on formulations.  This means that even if you are not allergic to any of the ingredients in the cleanser, there is a chance that you will develop irritation from irritant contact dermatitis. Additionally, one may get a delayed reaction to the ingredients in skincare/makeup, even if one has tolerated it before. These reactions of course are much rarer. 

Certain individuals may find that products for sensitive areas such as the eyes and lips tend to have a higher risk of irritation. As part of eye makeup tips, it is important to do your brand research here. Brands that are often ophthalmologist tested would be preferred to those which are not for application around the eyes.

Makeup Tips #2: eyeliner/mascara

Mascara/eyeliner products should all be thrown away after three months of use. This is because of the nature of the product and the fact that it is applied over the sensitive eye area. Using mascara for longer than 3 months can breed bacteria and lead to eye infections. As part of general makeup tips, all liquid makeup products once opened should be discarded within a year, if it’s not fully used. In my experience, powder makeup can be safely used for up to 2 years.

Makeup Tips #3: Concealer for acne prone skin

Use a concealer where you need it – concealer is not meant to be applied over the entire face.

I clearly remember in my teenage years when I have had outbreaks of acne and was taken to a dermatologist by my mother. The dermatologist prescribed me an antibiotic – doxycycline. During that period of time, I was very conscious about the blemishes I had on my skin. I had a lot of makeup applied on me during photoshoots which I had no control over.

Besides, I was also increasingly conscious of the comments that were being passed by insensitive casting agents on my blemishes which in retrospect, were not at all severe. However, this is the harsh reality of a young adult who is working in this field. This surely is an experience that many teenagers can identify with. But especially so for social media influencers, models, actors or actresses who are under heightened scrutiny on the health of their skin. 

What I would say to myself back then is essentially that I didn’t need to feel bad about my skin, and that it was a perfectly natural part of my life that I had to go through. I would highlight that it was important that I had sought medical help. The antibiotics did clear up my skin and my back to normal for a long period of time, during which I was on topical retinoids for maintenance.

The great thing about topical retinoids is that it also helped to increase the radiance of my skin and I have continued to use that all the way to my late twenties. After which, I found that I have become sensitive to it and developed redness, flaking and eventually had to stop using it. What is the take-home makeup tips message here? 

If you have a skin problem, it is all right to conceal it. But do not pay too much attention to what insensitive individuals around you may be thinking or saying about your skin. However, it’s important to also get it medically treated because had I not had it treated, it may never have gone away, at least for a significant period of time. Or worse, I would be left with horrible scars which thankfully, I do not have today. My message to you is that you do not need to have scars from acne. 

The additional point I wish to make on makeup tips here is that the eyes are the windows to your soul. I remember this from one of the crash courses on casting etiquette that I was given by one of my bookers – clients do not want to see you with dramatic eye makeup but it’s good to curl your eyelashes and put on mascara. 

I remember my biggest struggle with makeup was with mascara. Singapore is extremely humid and very often by the time I reached a casting place, my under-eye area would be all dark from the humidity that caused the mascara to run and stain my skin. As I grew older, I learnt how to choose formulas which don’t run as much. I have to say since starting my medical career, I haven’t used mascara regularly for at least the last five years. As a doctor, working overnight in the hospital didn’t make mascara or any form of makeup very sustainable.

When I became a dermatologist and studied cosmetic formulations, I realised that removing mascara formulations is different from removing traditional makeup. Removing mascara requires solvents that are not just for dissolving pigments as in the case of concealers or foundation but also binders. For a mascara to hold in humid weather, it needs to have a certain level of waterproof coating.

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The ideal mascara will be one that doesn’t run and does its job in volumising and lengthening. It also has to be easy to remove with a gentle cleanser. Removal of mascara or even eyeliner is often a rather messy affair. On makeup tips for removals, I love milk emulsion type formulations for removing various types of makeup. I find these the most efficient and gentle for removing waterproof mascara and eyeliner. 

I remember using eye makeup remover pads and oil cleansers when I was younger to remove heavy eye makeup after fashion shows — both caused me to develop skin irritation. The skin irritation didn’t come from the mascara or the makeup but rather it came from the cleansing. The truth is if your makeup is difficult to remove, whatever cleanser you’re using – you either have to use a lot of it or it won’t come off at all. 

Eyelash Growth Enhancement Serum for Lash Makeup Tips

The EYELASH GROWTH ENHANCER is a dual oligopeptide serum that has been clinically proven to show 25% increase with thicker and longer eyelashes after 2 weeks of use & 66% increase in lash length and density in just 28 days.

As makeup tips for lashes, try not to wear mascaras so much, especially on a daily basis. You could opt for an eyelash growth enhancer which can naturally treat your eyelashes, making it stronger, healthier and more luscious. You can also opt for magnetic lashes rather than eyelash extensions which involve chemical glues that may damage your natural lashes.

A word of caution as additional eye makeup tips, excessive friction caused by over-cleansing the eye area. It will cause the delicate eye area to age faster simply because of the pressure of pulling, dragging and rubbing that is exerted over this area over a period of time. The best type of mascara and eye makeup remover would be an emulsion based oil soluble cleanser. These days I focus on eyelash care.

The glaucoma medication bimatoprost in the form of Latisse was released about a decade ago when it was known that it caused lash lengthening. However, the use of it was limited by hyperpigmentation side effects. I use and recommend an oligopeptide based lash formula now as an eyelash cosmeceutical to promote healthy lash growth.

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