Skin

Why long-wear foundations could be making your acne worse

February 9th 2018 / Judy Johnson Google+ Judy Johnson / 0 comment

Cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting explains why makeup that’s hard to shift could be doing more damage - and why a foundation stick is your best bet for clearer skin

There’s nothing we love more than an industry expert cutting straight to the point when it comes to beauty, so when Dr Sam Bunting took to her YouTube channel to rant about long wear foundations we were taking notes.

In her new video, the cosmetic dermatologist talks of a patient suffering with acne, who came to her clinic wearing a very thick, heavy layer of foundation. While Dr Bunting points out that it's understandable that anyone would want to cover up angry blemishes, she goes on to describe just how hard it was to remove this ‘blanket of product’ in order to examine the skin - multiple cleanses were needed to remove enough of the foundation to see the skin beneath - and how these thick, high coverage, long lasting bases could be making matters much worse.

Not sure you can part with your industrial strength foundation? Here’s why Dr Sam Bunting thinks you can do better…

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Heavy base draws attention to bad skin

First and foremost, thick, high-coverage and long wear bases can make your skin look worse - because you’re applying the coverage where you don’t necessarily need it. "The important way to make up breakout-prone skin is to make the most of the bits that don’t have acne,” says Dr Bunting, encouraging sufferers to let the good skin shine through by using a lighter, buildable base, with added coverage where you need it.

They make acne worse

Ironically, the very nature of these dense, high-coverage budge-proof bases means they are often going to make matters worse, by clogging the pores - many of them are comedogenic which is exactly the opposite of what acne sufferers need. With up to 50% of women likely to suffer with acne at some point in their life time, Dr Bunting says it’s just not worth using a product that could exacerbate the issue.

They cost you more

We know that double cleansing has grown in popularity over the past few years, but Dr Bunting is cynical of any product that requires lots of cleanses to remove it - because ultimately, this is just costing you more money.

"If you’re having to double cleanse,” reasons Dr Bunting, "look at your makeup practices first, not your cleanser.”

Harsh removal is bad for your barrier

Removing this type of product fully takes some serious elbow grease, but be warned that if you are going to wear these stay-put foundations you need to ensure you do wipe away every last scrap. One GTG team member recalls switching to a well-known heavy duty foundation a couple of years ago but continuing with her usual basic cleansing routine. She went on to have the biggest acne flare-up since her teens, and it was all down to the fact that she wasn’t taking it all off.

But over cleansing has its downsides too, as Dr Bunting found out; having to use a cleanser three times on her own skin just to remove a long-wear foundation left her skin red, bumpy and drier than usual - another reason she warns to steer clear of these hard wearing formulas. What’s more, if you’re having to use more tools, cleansing brushes and harsh cleansers to remove your makeup at the end of the day, this can disturb your barrier function which in turn makes your skin more prone to breakouts - that is, the reason you’re wearing the thick stuff in the first place.

Ultimately, it’s about using the right products, and working with a light all-over base together with ‘buildable, but removable’ high coverage products to camouflage problem areas.

Dr Bunting’s answer? Foundation sticks - they’re easy to blend and top up through the day, without clogging your skin. Here are our top 5…


Nars Velvet Matte Foundation Stick

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£30, buy online

One of Dr Bunting’s favourite non-comedogenic foundations, this has a blender on the end to make touch-ups even easier.

Lancôme Teint Idole Foundation Stick

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£25.50, buy online

Another of Dr Bunting’s top picks for acne-prone skin, this stick is also non-comedogenic like the NARS, and she notes that it lasts well, but with a more elegant formula and texture.

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick

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£31, buy online

A favourite of GTG columnist Ayesha Muttucumaru, Bobbi Brown’s easy-to-blend formula is available in a huge range of shades.

Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick

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£66, buy online

GTG’s founder Susannah Taylor is a big fan of Tom Ford’s versatile foundation stick which she awarded top marks in our Gloss Report back in 2016. The shade range isn’t as wide as the others, but it lasts well.

NYX Professional Makeup Mineral Stick Foundation

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£11.50, buy online

A cheaper option that's approved by our Makeup Maniac columnist Anna Hunter, with a broad shade range and an impressive finish.

What do you think of long wear foundations? Do you prefer another formula to cover up acne? Let us know in the comments!

Follow Dr Bunting on her YouTube channel here

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