Can Letting Your Skin “Breathe” Improve Your Skin's Appearance?
When I first started social distancing in response to COVID-19, I pretty much stopped wearing makeup. Not only was there no good reason to, but I figured that a break from the foundation, blush, bronzer and highlighter would give my skin some time to “breathe.” As the days went on, I kept expecting my complexion to suddenly become clearer, more even and glowier than ever before — it was breathing, after all! But if anything, my skin issues only got noticeably worse — though it’s worth noting that stress and wearing a face mask outdoors were not exactly helping the situation. The whole experience made me wonder if skin really needs to “breathe,” or if we’re just blaming our makeup for bigger skin issues. I talked to Dr. Marie Hayag, board-certified dermatologist and founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics in NYC, to find out.
Does Your Skin Really Need to Breathe?
“The simple answer is no,” says Dr. Hayag. “The top layer of the skin is dead. The lower level of the skin does need nourishment from oxygen and nutrients from the blood supply. Thus, what you eat and drink are important for skin as well.” Plus, she says that it’s been shown that the top layer of skin does get oxygen from the air, even through makeup and skin-care products.
That said, “when people talk about skin ‘breathing,’ they are usually talking about their pores and whether they’re clogged or not,” says Dr. Hayag. It’s true that certain makeup and skin-care formulas can clog pores. “The pore-clogging culprits are typically oils, fragrances, preservatives and allergens in makeup,” she says.
So Should You Stop Wearing Makeup for Better Looking Skin?
If you have acne-prone or sensitive skin, cutting back on makeup might have a positive benefit to the appearance of skin. But Dr. Hayag also notes that, “some people just have acne and clogged pores regardless of wearing makeup.”
Before you swear off makeup altogether, though, first assess your cleansing and exfoliating routine. “If you have acne, make sure you wash your face at least twice a day using a quality makeup remover and cleanser. Exfoliating weekly can also be helpful for acne-prone makeup users,” she says. You should also cleanse after sweating or wearing a face mask to help prevent clogged pores. One of our favorite products is the CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser.
One way to help determine if your makeup may be the culprit behind your breakouts is to skip using your products and once your skin improves, gradually start reincorporating your makeup products in order to identify any that are causing the issues. You may want to either continue with a minimal makeup routine or swap the pore-clogging products out for non-comedogenic options.
Art Direction and Makeup: Melissa San Vicente-Landestoy, Photography: Luis Omar Landestoy