Makeup for sensitive skin

What problems can makeup cause and how to avoid them

Sensitive skin requires makeup that is specifically formulated for it.

Sensitive skin is a skin type that overreacts to external triggers, generally because of changes to the barrier function, which make skin more exposed to potential irritants.  

This skin type has defence systems that have become very fragile and will benefit from the use of cosmetic products specifically developed for sensitive skin, from cleansers to treatments and makeup.

In addition, sensitive skin is more prone to redness, spots and small imperfections, hence the demand for makeup products to hide such blemishes and even out the complexion is high.

If your skin is sentitive and you want to use makeup, it is most important that you pick makeup that suits your skin.

Makeup: what problems does it give to sensitive skin?

Make up can be a problem for sensitive and hypersensitive skin, especially because of certain ingredients it may carry and, sometimes, due to the low quality of the product.

Hence, it is of great importance to select makeup made with carefully-selected ingredients and that is accurately and specifically tested.

Amongst the commonest sensitisers found in makeup, we have perfume, preservatives, lanolin derivatives and rosin, which often trigger allergic skin reactions. Any makeup designed for sensitive skin should not contain these substances.

In addition, makeup products contain important amounts of mineral pigments, the ingredients that give the colour to makeup. Titanium dioxide gives white, iron oxides give black, brick red and yellow, aluminum silicate gives a blue, etc.

Since the come from the mining industry (they are minerals), pigments can in turn carry traces of heavy metals. Some of these - nickel, chromium and cobalt - are responsible for allergic contact dermatitis (ACD).

AS an impurity, nickel is a metal broadly found in many objects and raw materials, such as pigments. Nickel is the primary sensitiser triggering allergic contact reactions, to the extent that, due to the hazard it poses, some years ago already the European Union has set down regulations (Directive 94/27/EC) to limit the nickel content in objects that are supposed to stay in contact with skin (jewelery, jewels, buttons, etc.) as well as the release from such objects, in addition to banning the production and sale of non-compliant products. Nickel and its compounds have been banned from cosmetics as well (EC Regulation No. 1223/2009), yet since nickel impurities cannot be eliminated totally, the current legislation tolerates the so-called technically unavoidable traces. Though current technology does not allow to make cosmetic products that are nickel-free (i.e. without any nickel), you can still work to lower nickel trace sas much as possible by carefully selecting the ingredients, then testing the product to make sure nickel has been diminished under safe thresolds, which means making products that are that the traces of nickel are as low as possible and then make products nickel tested.

As impurities, chromium and cobalt are found to a much lesser extent compared to nickel. However, the problem is that these two metals are actually used to make certain pigments. Makeup for sensitive skin must therfore avoid including these pigments to prevent allergic reactions. In addition, tests must be performed to monitor chromium and cobalt as well, besides nickel.

Face makeup, like foundation, powders, blushes and bronzers, can dry out the skin excessively or be poorly tolerated because of the heavy metal impurities it carries.

Also lips makeup - pencils, lipgloss, lipstick - can pose a problem, especially in the case of intolerance to carmine, an animal-derived red pigment.

Eye makeup products, such as eyeshadows, pencils, eyeliners and mascara especially, can trigger annoying irritation to mucous membranes of the eyes as well as reactions in the eyelids, with skin redness, flakkiness, burning and itch. Also with eye makeup, it is best to avoid potentially irritating/allergenic ingredients (perfume, preservatives), because the eye area is particularly delicate.

Choosing makeup carefully is therefore very important, especially for those with sensitive skin and in the case of a very delicate eye area.

Choosing the proper makeup for sensitive skin

With sensitive, overreactive skin, or even in the case of the odd reaction to makeup, our advice is to choose makeup products specifically developed for sensitive skin. Here are a few tips:

  1. check if there is some indication on the package that it is for sensitive skin, for instance the words "sensitive and intolerant skin"
  2. pick eye makeup that is specifically tested for the eyes (ophthalmologically tested)
  3. with very sensitive skin, it is better to use a limited number of products and test new products on yourself one by one, without rushing.
  4. before buying a product, ask for a sample, if available, and test it on a small area of your skin (e.g. on the inner forearm). Reactions, if any, will usually occur within 24 hours.

It is also important to bear in mind that makeup is designed to stay on skin for long, so even if in the evening it seems to have "vanished", it is fundamental to remove make-up carefully.

Learn more by reading this article: Applying makeup and removing it from sensitive skin


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All BioNike products of the TRIDERM, DEFENCE and PROXERA ranges are developed to reduce the risks of intolerance and are suitable for sensitive skin. Such products are, in fact nickel-tested, preservatives-free, perfume-free (or having an allergen-free perfume), gluten-free and manufactured ​​with carefully selected and controlled ingredients.

In any case, we recommend that you consult your pharmacist and/or dermatologist, who will be able to recommend what is best for your skin.

Did you know it?

BioNike makeup is developed including carefully selected ingredients and, especially, using very pure pigments, with the aim of achieving formulations that are very well tolerated by skin, yet without compromising colour performance and by meeting all the latest fashion trends.

Face makeup includes a broad choice of foundations, which change according to textures offered and mode of application and meet the needs of all types of skin, also hypersensitive.

Eye makeup products are ophthalmologically tested, also on contact lens wearers: pencils are soft and glide on well, and can be applied onto the inner lashline as well; mascara is available with a lash volumising effect or lengthening effect.

Lips makeup offers both lipgloss and lipsticks which change according to the result you wish to achieve: semi-transparent and shiny, mat-satin effect or intense and vibrant.

The DEFENCE COLOR makeup products by BioNike nickel-, chromium- and cobalt-tested *.

This is part of our allergen-free philosophy.

*Formulated to minimise the content and release of nickel, chromium, cobalt. Each production batch is tested in conformity with EC Regulation No. 1907/2006.