Lea Michele recently revealed her secret to clear skin—She gives it room to “breathe.” “Maybe I’ll put on a little mascara. But other than that I try very hard to just let my skin breathe,” she told people.com. “I care more about letting my skin breathe than how I look.” While there’s no denying the pleasure of a Sunday spent bare-faced in your pajamas, is there any actual health benefit to naked, “breathing” skin? I spoke with dermatologist Papri Sarkar to find out.
Is there any truth to the idea that skipping makeup makes your skin healthier?
“There are some benefits to wearing zero makeup, especially for people with sensitive skin or who are prone to breakouts. The biggest culprits are the fragrances, allergens, preservatives, and oils in makeup, which can cause blotchiness or acne. But as long as you remove makeup properly so it doesn’t clog your pores, you should be fine. If you wear makeup, wash your face twice daily—or more if you work out—with a facial cleanser, and if needed, exfoliate to get off any heavy layers of makeup.”
Can skin actually “breathe”?
“The top layer of the skin is dead, so it doesn’t ‘breathe.’ When people talk about skin ‘breathing,’ they’re usually referring to whether the skin is occluded or not. Occluding the skin can cause pimples, whiteheads, or blackheads. It can also cause skin to look dull—especially if a heavy amount of makeup is applied and not removed. The lower, living layers of skin get their oxygen and nutrients from the blood supply, or from what you put in your body. That’s why what you eat and drink is at least as important as what you’re putting on your face.”
Did makeup used to stop skin from “breathing”?
“Over time, cosmetics’ ingredients have varied. For example, a small container of ointment that was more than 2,000 years old was found in South London in 2004. It was made of animal fat, starch, and tin oxide and probably used as foundation. I wouldn’t want that on my face every day—you can imagine how that combination could occlude pores, cause acne, and become rancid very quickly!”