What is the best makeup for sensitive skin?

Updated April 17, 2017

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the fragrances and preservatives in many make-up products can irritate the skin. If your skin becomes red or itchy after applying make-up, you don't have to completely forgo cosmetics or change your daily make-up routine. Being more selective on the ingredients and types of products you use can prevent sensitive skin inflammation.


Read the ingredient labels of all make-up products before purchasing. Since fragrances can aggravate sensitive skin, look for products that are labelled "without perfume" or "fragrance-free." Do not buy products labelled as "unscented." According to the American Academy of Dermatology, "unscented" products often contain fragrance to disguise the smell of the chemicals. Although make-up preservatives (such as formaldehyde, phenoxyethanol and paraben) can cause skin irritation, products containing water must have them to prevent bacteria growth. Compare product ingredient labels and choose products with less than 10 ingredients to avoid aggravating your skin with numerous preservatives.

Face Makeup

Choose face make-up (such as foundation, concealer or blush) labelled "non-comedogenic" or "hypoallergenic." These products are designed to be less likely to cause allergic reactions. Select powder foundation or cover-up when possible. Powder cosmetics tend to contain less preservatives because they don't contain water, an ingredient more susceptible to bacterial breeding. If you prefer liquid foundation, select products that contain silicone. The University of Alabama Birmingham Health System reports silicone foundation is less likely to irritate sensitive skin. Avoid waterproof products because they can strip skin of its protective oil and cause irritation.

Eye Makeup

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, eyelids are the most sensitive area of skin on the face. Look for lighter-coloured, powdered eyeshadow because it contains less irritating colour pigments than brighter shadows. Avoid eye make-up containing shimmer or glitter. If you use eyeliner, choose a wax-based pencil liner rather than a liquid eyeliner. Liquid liner contains latex, which can cause an allergic reaction on sensitive skin. When possible, choose black eyeliner or mascara. The University of Alabama Birmingham Health System reports black may be gentler on skin than other pigments. Discard eye make-up after three months to prevent bacteria accumulation that can further aggravate skin. Do not share any eye make-up products.

Lip Products

Although lips are less likely to be as sensitive as your eyes or face, they can still become dry or cracked when irritated. If your lips are sensitive, use a moisturising lip balm and lipstick or gloss. Avoid long-lasting lip colour. The American Academy of Dermatology states that ingredients in long-wearing lip products are more likely to cause an allergic reaction. Throw away lip products one year after purchasing to prevent contamination.

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About the Author

Allison Boelcke graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor's in English and a minor in psychology. She worked in print journalism for three years before deciding to pursue Internet writing. She is now a contributing web writer for Demand Studios and Conjecture Corporation.