Reader question: Tips for sensitive skin

Hi Ms. liz! I'm nineteen and I'm starting to be interested in makeup. The thing is, I'm afraid of getting breakouts if the makeup doesnt agree with my skin. Sometimes we use two or more beauty products the same time, so it's hard to know what's causing the breakouts. Would you happen to know what brands are good for people with skin like mine, or what ingredients i should avoid? You would be a great help. I love your blog by the way :) -HAA

Hello! If you ask me, 19 is a great age to get into beauty stuff. I was 19 myself when I started tinkering with skincare, foundation, and colors on my face. It's fun and fulfilling once you find products and techniques that work for you, but the downside with experimentation is that you will break out. Yes, even with highly recommended products. It's hard to predict what will improve or wreak havoc on your skin due to the uniqueness of our genetic makeup combined with environmental factors.

I don't believe in fear-mongering, so I won't name individual ingredients that the Internet says will cause you cancer or some I don't know, brain disease. Most cosmetics only have trace amounts of what are supposed to be (but not conclusively proven) harmful ingredients - parabens, for example. Mineral oil and petrolatum are also supposed to be harmful but unless you're using industrial-grade materials they are not. 

If you want more comprehensive information on ingredients though, you can check out the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database and The Beauty Brains blog. :) These are useful and trusted websites for checking the safety level of ingredients or a particular product. You can also check my post about an interview with the CEO of a skincare company, she talks about what's "natural" and what to avoid in makeup/skincare.

Now, if you're getting breakouts and don't know where they're coming from, I highly recommend that you stop using everything for now. Go back to whatever you were using before that did NOT break you out. Let your skin rest for a week or two with your old routine, then slowly re-introduce your new products one at a time, per week. If you get pimples again then you can now pinpoint the culprit. 

I highly recommend VMV Hypoallergenics for sensitive skin. The folks behind this brand are dead serious about ingredients and their effect on skin. Each of their products actually has a number that will tell you how hypoallergenic it is! They also have their own rating system per ingredient. I also like that VMV is not so expensive, at least not as expensive as luxe foreign brands.

VMV also makes awesome makeup - check out their BBBB (BB cream but better) tinted moisturizer, powder foundation, lipstick, and mascaras.

You can also check out Clinique and Kiehl's - they have marvelous creations for sensitive girls! Clinique rigorously tests their products before releasing them out in the market (though you have to be careful to choose what's best for your skin issue, they have so many products!), while Kiehl's utilizes natural ingredients that are said to help transform skin. I have many holy grail favorites from both brands and I'm sure you'll find a few things that will suit you.

Human Heart Nature is also a great local and socially-conscious enterprise that makes skincare and makeup from safe ingredients. :) They have everything from your hair to your feet!

You can check out mineral makeup also. I'm not a big fan to be honest, but Ellana and Human Heart Nature makes great powder foundation that you should try.

So there you go. :) Hope this helps HAA!