makeup detox

You Might Need a Makeup Detox

The experts weigh in on whether or not your skin could use a break from products.

Juice and soup cleanses—and other processes of internally flushing “toxins” from the body—have become popular routines among health-conscious folks. But could your skin benefit from a detox as well? And is the idea that skin needs to “breathe” now and then, free of beauty products, hippie hogwash or a smart part of your weekly routine?

“Unless you deal with breakouts or have sensitive skin, there’s no data to show that skin needs a ‘detox,’” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research and assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “But a makeup holiday can help resolve low-grade inflammation if wearing a lot of heavy makeup every day has led to irritation or blocked pores.”

Although a beauty product breather might not make much of a difference if you’re not suffering from chronic skin issues, it nevertheless can help you better assess your skin’s overall health and condition.

“Foundation, a full lip, full brow and contouring every day becomes less of an enhancement over time and more of a crutch,” says Lori Taylor Davis, global pro lead artist at Smashbox in Los Angeles. “If you’re constantly putting makeup on your skin, you’re probably not paying attention to how it’s changing.” Hormone levels change as you age, Davis says, so products that might have worked well in your late 20s might be less so in your 30s. 

But the reality is that we battle sweat, bacteria, environmental toxins, UV rays and the buildup of dead skin cells all day, every day. So while giving skin a rest from Kardashian-levels of makeup a couple days a week might not be a bad idea, going bare on your face during the day isn’t advisable. That’s because sunscreen is your number one line of defense in protecting skin from UV damage, and it provides a bit of a physical barrier to help protect from free radical damage as well, Zeichner says.

So even if you're participating in the #nomakeup movement, you should still use some products. Marissa Freeman, a makeup artist and esthetician based in Portland, Oregon, and Los Angeles, recommends Dr. Brandt BB Cream for its antioxidants and Bobbi Brown BB cream for its peptides, which boost collagen growth. Andalou Naturals CC 1000 Roses Color + Correct (sheer nude with SPF 30) is great for red and sensitive skin, she says. “They provide decent coverage and can help people lighten up by skipping the layering that can lead to product buildup,” she adds.