New research suggests make-up may be the key to eternal youth for your face
Make-up and me: it’s long been an uneasy relationship. While philosophically opposed to women feeling obliged to pile on the war-paint in order to face the world – I admit that on special occasions I’m guilty of succumbing to the cosmetics temptation. A little dash of lippy, a hint of blush, surely that can’t be a sackable feminist offence?
I can’t pretend that my attempts at beautification are before versus after magazine feature-worthy but wearing make-up does stop dead in their tracks the “Gosh, you look pale/tired today” comments from well-meaning friends on those particularly blah days.
But now comes vindication from an unexpected source: the Australasian College of Dermatologists no less. At this month’s Annual Scientific Meeting, ACD dermatologist Dr Phillip Artemi presented a paper on what he referred to as “cosmeceuticals” or “functional coloured cosmetics” such as foundation, powder, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara and lipstick. These, he said, are the second most important anti-ageing products to use after sunscreen with the huge added benefit that they can reduce the incidence of skin cancer, particularly around the eye.
“We now know that it isn’t just solar radiation such as UVB and UVA that is bad for the skin,” he said. “The sun also emits infrared radiation and visible light, which can lead to damage resulting in dull skin, wrinkles and unsightly pigmentation.
“Pollution, too, has been shown to cause wrinkles and skin ageing and, with increased urbanisation, traffic pollution is set to become a major skin toxin.”
According to Dr Artemi, due to their unique blend of SPF ingredients, pigments and reflectors of solar radiation, functional coloured cosmetics can be a vital part of a woman’s anti-ageing and skin cancer prevention arsenal. But he cautions about lipgloss; it provides little protection whereas darker, longer-lasting lipsticks afford better protection.
But this doesn’t mean we’re let off the hook regarding application of sunscreen. “A combination of sunscreen, foundation, eyeshadow, and mascara can reduce the incidence of skin cancers especially around the eye better than the use of sunscreen alone,” he said.
“While sunscreens do a lot, they don’t do enough and shouldn’t be relied on solely for skin health. We now advise that functional coloured cosmetics should be added to the long-standing advice in order to further reduce the risk of skin cancer and premature ageing as well as protecting against the increasing danger of air pollution.”
Dermatologist and Fellow of the ACD, Dr Anita Patel agrees that it’s best to use both a sunscreen and a foundation. However, if you are too time poor in the morning to apply both, she suggests using Blemish Balm/tinted sunscreens such as La Roche Posay Anthelios, Ego Daily Face, Rationale Skin Care, Oxygenetix (available through doctor’s offices) or a similar product from a major cosmetic company.
Dr Patel concurs that the eyelid area is a common site for skin cancers. “People generally don’t apply sunscreen there for two reasons: they don’t think about it and it stings when it gets in the eyes from sweating or during water activities. [Besides eyeshadow] highly protective, polarised sunglasses help too,” she advises.
Worried that foundation can clog pores?
“Yes, mineral-based foundations or those with high levels of certain ground heavy metals such as bismuth can do that. Most acne and breakout-prone and rosacea-prone patients are best advised to use liquid foundation that’s labelled oil-free or non-comedogenic (non pore-clogging/blackhead causing).”
However, to best protect against pollution – the second biggest cause of facial skin ageing – Dr Artemi advocates a routine of cleansing then moisturising followed by a broad-spectrum sunscreen topped with functional cosmetics.
With the belief that not wearing make-up is healthier for skin being turned on its head, I’m exonerated. It may be timely to re-frame the way I think about make-up, no longer viewing it as disempowering.
Becoming a lipstick feminist may just be good for my health.
Follow Judy on Twitter: @barouchjudy
This article originally appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald
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