The Icky Truth About Wearing Makeup During a Heatwave

We're told to cover up in the sun, but makeup might be the exception – here's why.
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Most of the days in the UK are wet and cold but every summer, we’re privileged to have a few days of intense heat.

During a heatwave, some people give up on makeup entirely and stick to some simple SPF. For others, the sun is an opportunity to try out new looks. Nothing feels better than wearing your favourite new foundation in that sweet light.

But though you might be able to nab some good selfies, wearing makeup in the sun can have some serious effects on your skin. Apply too much in the heat and you can get breakouts. This is because, as Dr Adil Sheraz, consultant dermatologist and spokesperson for the British Skin Foundation, says, “the properties of your skin will change based on the external environment.”

A 2019 study evaluated the effect of temperature on the skin and found that an increase in temperature results in several changes: increased sweat production, increased transepidermal water loss (this is the amount of water that evaporates from the skin), reduced skin pH, and more sebum production.

That’s right: sebum. Nothing sexier than the S word is there? Combined with wearing too much makeup, this can lead to heavy breakouts of acne.

“Makeup impacts your skin’s ability to sweat and cool down,” explains Tammy Richards, skin specialist at Pure Optical.

“Essentially, makeup acts as a cover on your face, forcing the skin to almost suffocate and retain all the oil and sweat which it produces in the heat. Wearing lots of makeup is not advised, as it can cause skin to become congested and built up with bacteria, resulting in more frequent blackheads and breakouts.”

Foundation isn’t the only thing that can affect your skin – you even need to be mindful of mascara when it’s hot. Wearing mascara in the heat can lead to a build-up of bacteria which may cause an eye infection.

“If you happen to be using an older mascara, one that is over six months old, then bacteria can build up in its container,” Richards reminds us. ”Once you start sweating during the heatwave, the mascara and bacteria can then enter the eye, thus causing risk of infection.”

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Maybe you can’t ditch the makeup, because you’re got an important meeting, wedding, special party, or date – or simply don’t want to go out bare-faced.

Richards suggests wearing at least wearing a foundation that isn’t oil-based. “Instead, opt for cream or gel-based products, such as tinted moisturiser or BB creams. Many of these also have a built-in SPF, which will ensure your skin is kept safe from UV rays, which can cause sunburn, premature ageing and even skin cancer.”

Dr Sheraz also advises changing up your routine. Use light moisturisers, ideally water-based. Products containing ingredients such as dimethicone help with moisturising the skin, reducing water loss, and are non-comedogenic – they do not block pores,” he tells HufPost UK.

“You do not have to completely ditch your makeup routine. However, it will require adjustments in the summer months. If possible, use less.”

Lastly, preparation is key, if you’re an avid make-up wearer, it’s important to be intentional about the cleansing products you use.

“During the summer there is a tendency to wash the face more often,” says Dr Sheraz. “Harsh cleansers that are drying for the skin should be avoided as this will only result in an increased production of oil and sebum. A gentle cleanser should be used to wash the face – and a gentle salicylic acid wash will help with reducing oil production.”