Makeups and foundations that are good for sensitive or allergic skin (plus what ingredients to watch out for!)

I really enjoy your website and have learned so much about skin care from you. I use most of the skincare products you recommend for my very sensitive, easily irritated skin. When it comes to makeup, do you have any suggestions or recommendations on good foundations for sensitive 60ish skin? Although I am usually able to keep my skin "behaving" with proper skin care, I do not know much about what to look for in a foundation. What brands do you and your clients use?

Thank you, you made my day! There are literally hundreds of foundations out there and they really vary in quality and performance.   And, we really almost can’t find out anything from the way that they are labelled or named. This drives me crazy and I’m sure it drives a lot of other people crazy.

Makeups and foundations I recommend:

Personally, I love and don’t react to the Laura Mercier tinted moisturzer which comes in both oil-free and not.  It lets the skin show through but still covers. If you need more coverage, try using the Laura Mercier and then spot treating with the ColorScience cover up or a Jane Iredale mineral powder make up over the liquid foundation.

What to look for in makeup ingredients if you have sensitive skin:

The other problem is companies can change the formulation of a foundation pretty much any time, and don’t have to inform you. So that means that the product you were using and doing fine with might now suddenly have a new ingredient that you react to. You’re thinking, “why am I having a problem?”, and really not aware that they changed it!

If you want to find out what ingredients in makeups you might be allergic or sensitive to, consider seeing a dermatologist to schedule “patch testing.”   These are discs (TrueTest) that are placed on the back for about 48-72 hours (yes you can shower) and then “read.” They really help identify about the top 40 possible culprits. This is different than the testing with a tiny needle that allergists do.

I have sensitive skin too, so here’s what I do and advise my patients to do. YOU MAY NEED TO TAKE YOUR READING GLASSES  when you shop because the ingredient lists on these things are TINY!  🙂   Take this list with you and look for these ingredients in the makeups you browse. These ingredients are big culprits in causing skin sensitivity issues.

  • Propylene glycol
  • Parabens
  • Alcohol,  if its in the top 5 ingredients
  • Fragrances

Propylene glycol is in a lot of skin care products and is now in the Top 20 list in the U.S. for allergens. Parabens are a common preservative.  There are other preservatives, especially formaldehyde releasers, that are an issue and can be identified for you with a “patch test.”

I hope this helps,  Dr. I

Foundation Makeup Good for Sensitive Skin - recommended by Dr. Irwin

Foundation Makeup Good for Sensitive Skin – recommended by Dr. Irwin

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

Ask me your skincare question!

Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin, and I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skincare advocate. That’s why I write these skin care tips and guides.

  • All our content is written and researched by myself and my trained staff.
  • My medical office in Seattle has experience treating thousands of patients.
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One of the best investments in your skin is your daily skincare. Why? Because you can prevent many problems with blotchy skin color, lack of glow, texture, some types of acne, and fine lines with good skincare products. You can also correct some of these problems with effective skincare products. Great skincare is often more expensive because quality ingredients are expensive. Some companies spend on research/development which benefits all of us and adds to the cost. Are they worth it? In general - yes! I have handpicked some of what I consider to be the best skin care products, and offer them for sale on SkinTour's shop. This is based on my team and I's testing and research at our clinic. Many of the products are in my own regimen. What could be better than using skin care products a dermatologist uses?!