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5 Times You Should Never Wear Makeup, According to Dermatologists

when not to wear makeup

Getty Images/Jasmin Merdan

You should feel free to wear makeup whenever you feel like it—no judgement. To be perfectly frank, we're guilty of slapping on mascara and concealer before a workout too. At the same time, we never want you to feel like you have to wear makeup, your bare face is part of you and we're here for it. That said, we thought it important to find out when wearing makeup may be detrimental to your skin. That way, you can make a more information decision when you decide to brush it on or wash it off.

To help us out, we tapped two extraordinarily knowledgable dermatologists—Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, a cosmetic dermatologist and the founder of PFrankMD Skin Salon, and Dr. Dendy Engelman, a board-certified dermatologist and dermatological surgeon. Ahead, they shed some light on the five instances when it's better for the health of your skin to go bare-faced. Read on for their sage advice.

Meet the Expert

  • Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank is a board-certified dermatologist known for his minimally-invasive skin treatments. He is also the chief medical officer and founder of the PFRANKMD brand.
  • Dr. Dendy Engelmann is a board-certified dermatologist who works at Medical Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery in New York. She is well-versed in injectable fillers, chemical peels, fat removal, and more.

After Micro-Needling

As the name suggests, micro-needling is a non-invasive procedure that uses fine needles to puncture your skin in an effort to encourage collagen production. The result is a smoother, more toned surface with less visible scars and wrinkles. "After micro-needling there’s technically an open wound on the skin, and although it does not take long to close up, it takes at least several hours," says Frank. “I advise patients not to apply makeup for at least half a day, or six to eight hours, after micro-needling.” The goal is to let your skin heal and avoid infection.

At the Gym

We’re not saying a brush-through of brow gel, a swipe of lip balm, and a dab of concealer here or there is going to wreck havoc on your skin. Rather, it’s the foundation. “Thicker foundations are going to be occlusive and will potentially affect the how your skin functions,” notes Frank. “If you’re sweating excessively while wearing makeup, you’re creating mud on the face.” The result? You guessed it. Clogged pores and breakouts. With that said, Frank believes wearing lighter, mineral-based makeup is a better alternative. “It’s all about allowing your skin and your pores to do their job, which is breathe and sweat," he explains.

After Swimming

Turns out wearing makeup while swimming isn’t the worst thing you can do to your skin, as the barrier that makeup provides can actually protect your skin from chlorine and other pool-cleaning agents. Rather, it’s what happens when you get out of the water that may cause issues. Engelman laments that a face of makeup mixed with chlorine, dirt, and bacteria sitting on your face post-swim could lead to inflammation and breakouts. For this reason, keep makeup wipes or a light cleanser handy.

When You Have a Breakout

We’ve all been there. Wake up, look in the mirror, see a breakout, attempt to mask it. But, applying makeup on top of the affected area could prolong the healing process and lead to further breakouts. Engelman says the simple act of applying the product could cause cross-contamination, as "acne-causing bacteria can hide in the bristles of a makeup brush," she warns. If you do end up applying makeup, pay attention to the packaging of the product. “Use foundation and concealers from a tube or dropper bottle versus a cream or pot,” Engelman recommends. “Germs and bacteria can spread if you touch your breakout and then dip your finger into a pot of product.” Bottom line: It’s better to let the breakout heal before applying makeup. But if you can't avoid it, stay hygienic.

During and Post-Laser Hair Removal

So, you’ve got facial hair that you want to zap off. Great! Just keep in mind the laser needs easy access to your hair follicles in the area you’re targeting—and wearing foundation, powder, and other makeup could prevent that. Post-treatment, you should allow one to two days of healing time before picking up a makeup brush again. “As with micro-needling, laser hair removal targets the hair follicles, damaging the follicle to prevent hair growth,” says Engelman. Needless to say, your skin is likely going to be sensitive, and topping it with product during such a vulnerable, sensitive state can clog your pores.

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