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Best Makeup and Cosmetics for Psoriasis

Posted on February 25, 2021
Medically reviewed by
Diane M. Horowitz, M.D.
Article written by
Victoria Menard

About 20 percent of people with plaque psoriasis (the most common form of the skin condition) on their bodies also develop psoriasis on their face. Facial psoriasis can present many problems, including challenges finding makeup and cosmetics that work well and won’t cause irritation.

Many MyPsoriasisTeam members talk about their struggles with wearing makeup. As one member admitted, “It’s easy for people to say, ‘Put on makeup.’ They don’t know how drying it is! It starts to peel halfway through the day!” Another member shared that apart from finding clothes that cover their lesions, the hardest part of dealing with psoriasis is “always having to wear makeup.”

You may decide not to wear makeup if you have psoriasis — and that’s okay. If you do decide to wear makeup, finding products that work for you may take trial and error, but a few tips can help get you started.

Moisturizers as a First Step

Hydrated skin provides the best base for smooth, consistent makeup application. However, the dryness and thick, red patches characteristic of psoriasis can make even coverage difficult. As one MyPsoriasisTeam member wrote, “Any makeup I use sticks to the flaky patches and makes me look a million years older than I really am!”

Foundation, concealers, and setting powders can become cakey when applied over dry, scaly psoriatic skin, according to New Jersey dermatologist Shari Sperling, D.O. If you have psoriasis, prepping the skin by keeping it hydrated is one of the most important aspects of applying makeup.

Keeping the skin well-moisturized reduces redness and itching and helps the skin heal. Over-the-counter (OTC) moisturizers, such as heavy creams and ointments, lock moisture into the skin. It may take some time to find the moisturizer that works for you. One MyPsoriasisTeam member shared that “all-natural hydrating creams” seem to work for them, while another wrote that they prefer coconut oil on the face, as “no makeup works with a normal cream.”

When choosing an over-the-counter moisturizer (or any skin care product), look for the National Psoriasis Foundation Seal of Recognition. The seal highlights OTC products that are nonirritating and safe for people living with psoriasis and very sensitive skin to use as part of their skin care routines.

You should also check a product’s ingredients list and keep an eye out for key ingredients that may help or worsen your psoriasis symptoms. As always, talk to your dermatologist before introducing any new ingredients to your skin regimen.

Ingredients To Look for

One of the most effective topical ingredients for managing psoriasis is salicylic acid. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved anti-inflammatory agent, salicylic acid can be found in many OTC moisturizers, cosmetics, and makeup products.

Salicylic acid is a keratolytic (peeling agent) that helps shed the outer layer of skin cells and softens and removes scales or plaques. Using an OTC skin care product containing salicylic acid in conjunction with your prescription topical treatment can help the prescribed medication penetrate the skin, increasing its effectiveness.

Over-the-counter moisturizers containing salicylic acid come in strengths from 0.5 percent to 5 percent. Anything with a higher concentration will require a prescription from a dermatologist or other health care provider. Keep in mind that salicylic acid can cause stinging and skin irritation if left on for too long or if too high a concentration is used.

The following active ingredients may also help soothe dry, itchy, irritated skin to help ease makeup application:

  • Lactic acid
  • Urea
  • Phenol
  • Calamine
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Camphor
  • Diphenhydramine hydrochloride (HCl)
  • Benzocaine
  • Aloe vera
  • Jojoba
  • Zinc pyrithione

Sun protection is also an important part of your daily skin care routine with psoriasis. Certain makeup and lip balms contain some of the same sun-protective ingredients used in sunscreens.

Ingredients to Avoid

Many moisturizing lotions contain additives and fragrances that could be irritating to the skin. Try to avoid products that contain fragrances and alcohol. One MyPsoriasisTeam member offered some advice: “Your makeup should contain organic products. Try to avoid chemicals as much as possible.”

Covering Psoriasis With Makeup

Deciding whether you’d like to cover up your psoriasis or not is entirely up to you — there is no wrong answer.

Some MyPsoriasisTeam members find that taking a break from cosmetics gives their skin a chance to clear. “I try hard to not wear makeup when at all possible in order to give my skin a break,” wrote one member. “It seems to have helped greatly this weekend.” Another member admitted that their face “seems so happy not having to wear makeup” and even appears clearer.

One member shared that deciding to go without makeup was an easy decision: “I decided, ‘what the hell.’ I’ve been lucky. I had a few stares, a few questions (which is good), and a few bad comments, but the good outweighs the bad.”

If you decide to wear makeup, there are some techniques and products that can help you achieve the look you’re going for. Keep in mind that you should never apply makeup to raw, irritated, or open psoriasis lesions.

Choosing a Formulation

Liquid and cream complexion makeup, including foundation and concealer, generally fall on a spectrum from sheer (light coverage) to opaque (full coverage), depending on how fully they cover the skin. Some MyPsoriasisTeam members swear by full-coverage makeup: One wrote that “Full coverage foundation does wonders,” while another praised high-coverage makeup for covering their facial psoriasis. Others prefer lighter coverage, like one member, who shared that they use a BB (blemish balm) cream in place of a traditional foundation.

Complexion makeup may also offer either a matte (flat) or non-matte finish, which is usually described as dewy. Note that a matte foundation may be more drying than a dewy one, which could highlight dry, flaky psoriasis lesions.

Covering redness or discoloration is another common consideration when choosing complexion makeup for psoriasis. One MyPsoriasisTeam member shared that they use a green foundation primer under their makeup, which “helps cancel out redness.”

Body Makeup

Some makeup is specially formulated for application on the body. Makeup formulated for the body may be helpful if you are looking to cover psoriasis plaques because traditional makeup wears off or doesn’t provide enough coverage.

The concept of wearing makeup anywhere other than on the face may be odd, but it’s one that many people swear by. One MyPsoriasisTeam member admitted that the first time they went out in shorts this year was after spraying their legs with “loads of leg makeup.” Celebrities have also discussed using makeup to cover their psoriasis. As reported by the National Psoriasis Foundation, Kim Kardashian West was recently diagnosed with psoriasis. She has been public about her use of makeup to cover psoriasis plaques.

Psoriasis and Removing Makeup

The right skin care and makeup regimen doesn’t end with application. Removing your makeup to prevent irritation is just as important as how you put it on. Try using gentle cleansers, such as those recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation and incorporating salicylic acid or alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids into your cleansing routine.

Meet Your Community

Living with psoriasis can be a challenge — but you don’t have to go it alone. MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, members ask questions, offer advice and support, and share their experiences living with psoriasis and PsA.

Do you have psoriasis and wear makeup? What products have worked for you? Share your tips with members in the comments below or by making a post on MyPsoriasisTeam.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Diane M. Horowitz, M.D. is an internal medicine and rheumatology specialist. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about her here.
Victoria Menard is a writer at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here.

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