What You Should Know About Skincare Ingredients In Makeup

A dermatologist, cosmetic chemist, and aesthetician break down if cosmetics with skincare benefits are really all the rage.
Written by Jeannine Morris Lombardi
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What You Should Know About Skincare Ingredients In MakeupLaura Chouette/Unsplash

The trend of marrying cosmetics with skincare ingredients has been around for a while, and it’s no surprise that it’s here to stay. We have a few major shifts in consumer behavior to thank for this continuation:

  1. Counter Intelligence: We’re increasingly aware of what we’re putting on our skin and are opting for ‘good-for-you’ ingredients and products across the board.
  2. Coming Clean: The more recent wellness boom is steering us towards a proactive skincare approach and away from using makeup as a means to conceal perceived imperfections.
  3. Better Together: What was once bought as two separate categories is now often purchased as a hybrid (hey, we’re conditioned to multitask and expect our products to do the same).

While the concept of hybrid skincare and makeup sounds alluring, we can’t help but wonder: Is combining forces the most effective use of these beauty products? To better understand what it means to formulate makeup with skincare ingredients, we’ve tapped an expert dermatologist, aesthetician, and cosmetic chemist.

Makeup vs. Skincare

Skincare ingredients in cosmetics can benefit your skin as an added boost. In a pinch, they can also be used to save time (something is better than nothing, right?). Either way, it’s important to know what to look for and how to read the label.

As we’ve covered, there is little regulation in the beauty space, which means brands can make efficacy claims without much oversight. And then there are the clever naming conventions and trendy monikers that are employed to make both makeup and skincare products stand out on the shelves. “A simple tinted moisturizer can be a misconception,” says April Caruso, an aesthetician at EC Beauty Studio in Hoboken, NJ. “Some of my clients assume that it acts as their moisturizer and a complexion corrector when it’s really only a moisturizing cosmetic. A daily moisturizer is still needed underneath for optimal skin health.”

Staying in the complexion category, board certified dermatologist Angela Lamb, MD, recommends BB and CC creams to her busy patients specifically because of their added skincare benefits. “These two-in-ones contain active ingredients and can save you time,” she explains. Her pick? The Ilia Super Serum Tint SPF 40.

Ideally, you’d use this kind of makeup to supplement your skincare routine, not replace it. You should still be applying your regular skincare regimen first.

How to Maximize Your Skincare & Makeup Routine

Ready to invest in a new product (or two)? Here are a few rules to be aware of to maximize your results and get the most bang for your buck.

1. Never Skip Serum

No matter how many active ingredients your makeup has, the number one piece of advice all the experts agree on: Never skip your serum. Serums are extremely efficacious because they’re formulated with the tiniest molecules that can deeply penetrate your skin. Vitamin C, for example, should be applied directly to your skin in serum form after your cleanse to reap the benefits. “There’s no data showing that cosmetics with vitamin C are able to make a difference,” explains Perry Romanowski, a cosmetic chemist and co-host of The Beauty Brains podcast. “It’s also a tough ingredient to successfully stabilize, so it wouldn’t have much impact on the skin in a cosmetic once it’s in your hands.”

2. Be Mindful of SPF

Another skincare ingredient to be mindful of in cosmetics is sunscreen. Most cosmetic formulations don’t offer enough protection against UVA rays (i.e. the ones linked to melanoma). If you're using a foundation with SPF 30, Romanowski recommends treating it as an SPF 15 because there is no way you’re applying as much as you need to get the full effect. Having sunscreen in your makeup can’t hurt, but it’s not the answer to sun protection. If your foundation has SPF in it, layer it over your traditional sunscreen as added protection.

3. Choose Your Formulation Wisely

When it comes to delivering skincare ingredients through makeup, formulation matters. Creams and gels are the way to go. Powders are more difficult to spread evenly and, therefore, the skincare ingredients may be less effective. But it’s not just the format of the product that matters. Companies are increasingly transparent about their sourcing and manufacturing processes, which can give you a better understanding of the types of ingredients that are (and are not) used.

The Takeaway

In the end, with education and a solid skincare routine, using cosmetics with skincare ingredients in them acts as an added bonus to your regimen. If you’re trying to figure out how to allocate your beauty budget, put the bulk of your dollars towards targeted serums that can address specific skin concerns and a cosmetically elegant sunscreen that layers well under makeup, rather than cosmetics with skincare in them. While there is nothing wrong with skincare-infused makeup, you’ll get the most out of both if you keep them separate.

All products featured are independently selected by our editors, however, AEDIT may receive a commission on items purchased through our links.

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JEANNINE MORRIS LOMBARDIis a contributing writer for AEDIT.

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