Skin condition, not age, affects choice of makeup


March 24, 1994|By Paula Begoun | Paula Begoun,Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service

Q: I seldom read anything directed to those of us who are almost 50. How should makeup application change as we get older? Less? Lighter shades? I sure would appreciate your thoughts on this subject.

A: Not all 50-year-olds have the same problems. Due to individual differences in sun exposure, genetics, and products used, no single set of recommendations holds true.

Age is not an aspect of skin care. Skin condition is. There are at least 16 different skin types.

Makeup application, like skin care, depends on many factors, of which age is only one. The only thing that age affects is makeup settling into the lines on the face -- although if you happen to be 20 years old and have sun-damaged skin, you will have the same problem. As a general rule, I encourage all women to wear a subtle amount of makeup. Foundation should match the skin exactly; avoid shiny eye shadows, bright eye shadow colors, greasy eye pencils, obviously penciled eyebrows, and obvious lip lines around the mouth.

Q: I am using Murad's Age Spot Gel on my hands and Murad's Dry Skin Formula as well. I noticed that the gel and liquid both contain alcohol. They are very drying and irritating. I also have noticed a reaction on my face similar to when I started using Retin-A.

Also, I have trouble tolerating various sun blocks. I use as high as 40 Sun Protection Factor. I know you said a 15 SPF will suffice, but here in Houston or in the Caribbean it does not. You live in Seattle, and I do not think you can understand what we go through. I have found that a thick layer of foundation protects great against the sun. As a practical matter, there is a place for sun blocks exceeding 15 SPF and rising to 50 SPF.

A: With your concerns about skin cancer, please keep in mind that during the day you need to keep a sunscreen on your hands as well as your face. Retin-A and AHA products work practically bTC

alike. I am not surprised you are experiencing some of the same reactions, but they will pass.

I am not pleased with the alcohol content of some AHA products. I would encourage you to stay away from the gels and use products that do not contain any alcohol. The name Age Spot Gel is meaningless. All that counts is the percentage of AHA in the product.

Once you use a sunscreen with an SPF that's over 15, you are getting a very strong chemical, and most skins cannot tolerate it. The reason you may still get some sun using an SPF 15 is because of the UVA protection vs. the UVB protection. All chemical sunscreens protect only against UVA and a minimal amount of UVB (which can still cause damage). Try the new nonchemical sun blocks, which offer much better protection from both. One reason a thick layer of foundation works is because most foundations contain titanium dioxide and iron oxides. Now that you can get them in lightweight moisturizers and foundations, you don't have to pile on heavy makeup.

By the way, having spent a great deal of time in Hawaii, Fiji and Australia, I know firsthand about strong sun exposure. But I never report simply from personal experience; that is a very poor basis of information, not to mention irrelevant for most of the population. I extensively interview dermatologists and research chemists, plus I read medical journals and other professional magazines concerning cosmetic formulations.

Paula Begoun has tested 10,000 cosmetics products and publishes the Cosmetics Counter Update, a newsletter that comes out every other month. For an introductory copy of the subscription newsletter, send $1 for shipping and handling to: The Beginning Press, 5418 South Brandon, Seattle, Wash. 98118.

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