What Kind of Foundation Should You Use if You Have Psoriasis?

When you have a skin condition, cosmetics can be tricky. Makeup is formulated for the average person, meant to be as minimally irritating to normal skin as possible. It's rarely formulated specifically for people with especially irritable skin or with a skin-based disease. If you suffer from such a condition, it's doubly difficult, because you're even more likely to want to cover up blemishes, redness, and other symptoms.

What is Psoriasis?

Those of you who aren't aware of what Psoriasis is can keep reading. If you have it or are otherwise familiar with it, feel free to skip to the next section.

Psoriasis is a skin condition with a surprisingly low level of understanding. Science currently doesn't know what, specifically, causes psoriasis, but we do know some basics. It's thought to be an immune system condition, and genetics play a large role in whether or not you will have it.

Psoriasis is relatively common. It's thought to be similar to an autoimmune disorder, in which white blood cells react in an overactive way with skin cells. Normally, this reaction triggers healing and fights infection, but when it's imposed on healthy skin, it essentially speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. This causes skin cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. Extra skin cells react poorly to extra layers, and form scaly patches, cracked, red patches, plaque, and dryness.

Like many diseases, psoriasis is simply a name given to a variety of very similar conditions. These are characterized by different locations and how widespread the disorder is, as well as some side effects, such as the development of pus-filled blisters or lesions. If you're interested, you can read about the different types of psoriasis here.

While psoriasis is most commonly found in areas like the elbows and knees, it can occur anywhere on the body, including the scalp and the face. This latter occurrence is what leads many women and men to investigate makeup to conceal the effects of the disease.

Treatments for psoriasis take three forms. The first treatment involves identifying triggers that cause the skin reaction and lead to an outbreak. These can range from diabetic episodes to smoking to stress to infections, and can even be skin abrasions such as a cut or a bug bite.

The second treatment is typically skin treatments to minimize the spread of lesions and ease the discomfort and pain associated with the disease; that is, basically symptom management.

The third treatment is medication aimed at calming down the over-active skin cells and the immune system that attacks them. These can include creams, but also a specific kind of UV light therapy. You will need to talk to a doctor specifically about such treatments, if you're interested in them.

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for psoriasis. All you can do is manage the symptoms, avoid the triggers that lead to outbreaks, and try to live a fulfilling life despite the skin condition.

How Makeup Affects Psoriasis

If you're looking into the relationship between psoriasis and makeup, including foundations, you probably have two concerns:

  • Will this trigger a psoriasis outbreak?
  • Will this make a psoriasis outbreak worse?

When you aren't in the middle of an outbreak, but you still want to wear makeup, you want to make sure you're getting a foundation that won't trigger an outbreak. If you're in the middle of an outbreak, you want to make sure any foundation you use to conceal it isn't going to make it worse.

Different people will react differently to the ingredients in different foundations. Thus, it's important to find a foundation that works for you.

Tips for Picking a Foundation

While we'll recommend some specific products in a moment, first let's talk about some general tips on how to pick and test a foundation to make sure it's not going to cause a flare-up or make an outbreak worse.

First, you want to know your own skin history. If you have any allergies that cause a rash or skin sensitivity, those can trigger an outbreak. You want to make sure you aren't sensitive or allergic to any of the chemicals in the foundation you want to use.

Be aware that all-organic, all-natural makeup isn't necessarily safe! Many people have allergies and reactions to organic and natural ingredients as well as synthetic ingredients. They're definitely worth trying out, but they aren't guaranteed to be safe.

Thankfully, while abrasions and skin damage can trigger psoriasis, makeup in general likely will not. Unless you have a reaction to some ingredient in the foundation you're using, you shouldn't have to worry about your makeup triggering an outbreak.

Second, you want to find a thick foundation. Some foundations aren't well suited for covering the thick scales or deep redness of a psoriasis outbreak. In some cases, you may be able to get by on a medium-thickness foundation, but some people will want to opt for some of the thickest products available.

You will, of course, want to make sure to pick a foundation close to your skin color surrounding an outbreak. If the color doesn't blend right, you'll need even more makeup, and then you run the risk of yet more reactions to more chemicals.

Another common piece of advice is to pick a moisturizing foundation. Keeping skin moist and protected from environmental stressors can help a lot. In addition to a moisturizing foundation, it's worthwhile to pick up moisturizing lotions for areas that frequently see damage, such as elbows. Vaseline and Aveeno both have moisturizing and repair lotions that can be quite effective.

Finally, no matter what you pick, test a small amount in a safe location. It's always a good idea to test new cosmetics in a small spot before applying them across your face. Make sure you don't have a reaction to something in the makeup before you put it on.

Product Recommendations

While you probably don't need us to go through the whole process of applying makeup, we'll follow that process for our recommendations.

First up, you have a few products to set the stage.

  • Micellar Oil from Decleor. This product is a facial cleanser that does not strip the natural oils from your skin. Use it to clean your face before applying makeup, or use it to strip makeup at the end of the day.
  • Buffet Serum from The Ordinary. This is a daily-use serum with a handful of ingredients that help hydrate and cleanse your skin. It helps maintain healthy skin as much as possible, and plumps up your skin to provide a more even surface for makeup to eventually cover.
  • Any gentle exfoliator. Every brand has their own, so look for a sugar or coffee scrub, not something that uses harsh chemicals to strip skin. Avoid microbeads as well, though they're hard to find since they've been banned in many locations.
  • ApiClear Facial Peel from Manuka Doctor. Facial peels may seem like a risky venture, but this one has been proven and comes recommended by a number of psoriasis sufferers. It helps plump the skin and clear away dead skin, though it can be a little harsh, so it's best left to a once-a-week or less frequent treatment.
  • Midnight Recovery Concentrate from Kiehl's. This is a serum packed with essential oils and vitamins that help restore and heal skin without triggering the immune response that causes a psoriasis outbreak. After a long day and a cleanse in the evening, applying this before bed helps further heal and restore skin overnight.

With a clean and healthy face, with or without a psoriasis flare-up, the next step will usually be a primer. Primers help as a foundation, and they can serve to even out the skin around a flare-up to hide the ridges and bumpiness of the condition.

Primers come in different tones; some dermatologists recommend avoiding green-tinted primers because they tend to cause some allergic reactions more than other tones. However, they can also combat redness from psoriasis and other conditions, so it might be worth trying. If your skin has a different tone, a different color might work as well; light purple for sallow skin tones, or pink for a brighter complexion.

  • Prime Time Foundation/Primer from BareMinerals. This is a combination primer and foundation, and it's free of SLS, PEG, and Parabens, all of which you want to avoid. This helps resurface the skin and make a strong foundation for additional makeup.
  • Photo Finish Primer from Smashbox. This is a primer gel that serves to smooth out blemishes and even out the surface of the skin for the application of makeup. It also helps makeup set longer. This formulation is vegan and natural.
  • Veil Mineral Primer from Hourglass. This is an oil-free primer that helps conceal redness and even out the surface of the face for a foundation. It even includes basic SPF15 protection to help fight UV rays that can damage the skin and cause an outbreak.
  • Poreless Primer from Too Faced. This is another pretty basic primer that seems to be well-reviewed. It does a good job covering blemishes ranging from an ongoing outbreak to old scarring.

And now, on to the foundation. A primer smoothes out skin and makes for a blank canvas; the foundation gives you your starting tone and glow.

Here are a handful of different foundations you can try. Make sure to pick one that works best with your skin tone!

  • Tinted Beautifier from Inglot. This is a tinted foundation that comes in eight different colors to best match your skin tone. It's light and even, so it won't cause issues with other tints in foundations. It's also packed with additional nutrients to help rejuvenate your face while you wear it.
  • Studio Fix from Mac. This is a heavier foundation that works great on areas where you have redness that doesn't cover adequately with other foundations and primers. It's not entirely oil-free, but it's close, and it works pretty well to blur out blemishes.
  • Mineralize Foundation from Mac. Another Mac product, this one is a loose powder foundation and thus would normally be avoided for psoriasis, since powders can get stuck in flaked skin, but it's gentle enough that it works. 
  • Dipbrow Pomade from Anastasia. This is a specific kind of foundation to fill in eyebrows, in case you have psoriasis that affects the hairline and brows. This, plus some extra exfoliation in those areas, can help hide the signs quite well.

You can also check to see if your existing favorite brands have any low-oil or psoriasis-designed products specifically for your use. Additionally, some brands have kits with multiple products designed for use together. This helps avoid any overlap in excessive nutrients.

Do you have any product recommendations for psoriasis makeup? There are, of course, thousands upon thousands of products available, so it's hard to review through them all. If you have a product you swear by, leave a recommendation in the comments!

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