Make-up and Psoriasis: You Can Still Feel Pretty and Pampered

Patient Expert

Me and make-up and other beauty products, we've had a rather tumultuous relationship over the years. But I think we've all come to a good place - not such an easy thing to do when you've got psoriasis.

For the longest time, I felt extremely frustrated any time I shopped for make-up, particularly concealer, foundation and face powder. I wanted to cover up the dry, red patches that appear near my hairline and on my face from time to time, but I didn't want to look too "made up." As any woman can attest, the caked-on look is not the desired effect of wearing make-up; on the contrary, we want the products we use to subtly complement our features, not draw attention to what we'd like to hide.

Problem was, I couldn't always find the right shade of make-up. Then there was the process of determining the best kind (sheer, cream, powder, etc.) for my fair, sensitive, dry skin.

I'm pretty sure I've had few hits and mostly misses through the years as I've tried to find the right make-up and beauty products for my skin. I finally decided to figure it out once and for all, taking the step of meeting with a make-up artist in my city to get a good assessment of what to look for when buying make-up for my psoriasis-prone skin.

I'd like to share some of what I've learned in hopes that it may help you. A few tips on buying make-up and other over-the-counter beauty products like cleansers and moisturizers if you have psoriasis like me:

  • Consider checking out a store specializing in beauty care products. While drugstores offer an array of make-up - and prices generally are fairly reasonable - if you've got especially sensitive skin and need to try on products before buying, experts suggest you try a place like Sephora, an international chain with locations throughout the country. These kinds of specialty stores carry a number of product lines and have knowledgeable people to assist in your search. It's worth it to have them help you find the foundation shade that best matches your skin tone.

  • "Primer" makes a big difference. I'd never used primer on my face until recently, and I realize I was missing out. Both dermatologists and make-up experts I've spoken with agree primer is essential in helping cover psoriasis (and other unevenness and blotchiness on our faces). While moisturizer is absorbed into our skin, giving it a softer feel, the primer you apply over it fills in the pores. The function of the primer is to prepare the skin. It stays higher on the skin and is designed not to be absorbed. Think of it as a way to create an even canvas for your make-up - you'll be amazed to see how your eye shadow or lip color "pop" because your foundation, whether liquid or powder, lies much more evenly on your skin.

  • Check the ingredients in your other beauty products. I've learned the hard way that what works well on "normal," "oily" or "combination" skin isn't so great for psoriasis. Even "gentle scrubs" are too abrasive for my skin, and while some moisturizers specifically target "sensitive skin," I've discovered I need them to be especially hydrating as well, since my skin is overall dry, too. Indeed, there are many potential irritants and chemicals that could exacerbate psoriasis. As a general rule, use creams as opposed to gels, which have high alcohol content, or lotions, which have fewer emollients. Look for products labeled hypoallergenic, alcohol-free, fragrance-free or "for sensitive/rosacea skin." Cleansing with non-abrasive milky cleansers and avoiding harsh granular scrubs also is smart. Moisturizers with ingredients such as ceramides, lipids and hyaluronic acid-substances that retain moisture-help keep the skin's upper layer well-hydrated, which is beneficial both cosmetically and clinically for psoriasis patients.

The good news is there's an increasing number of brands out there that offer make-up and beauty products for ultra-sensitive skin. Look around, test a few out, and find the kinds that work best for you.