Today’s American teens have an image to keep; and for many, that image includes masking their faces in makeup every day. In fact, some refuse to leave the house without it on. Unfortunately, makeup can have damaging effects on a teenager’s skin and even cause additional health woes.
Teens might have an idea of the influence makeup has on their skin, but they may not fully comprehend the problematic connection to skin problems like acne. In one study in Brazil, 45 percent of women who used makeup religiously had skin disease related to the makeup they were wearing.
At the same time, 14 percent suffered from makeup-induced acne lesions. This specific type of acne actually has its own medical term too—acne cosmetica.
Since teens often use makeup more heavily than do adults, they have a greater chance of suffering from skin problems. In addition, the pressure of body image and social status from their peers will prompt them to cover any blemishes with even more makeup. In turn, this action will worsen the acne, creating a harmful cycle of skin damage that may take months or years to reverse.
Makeup’s Damaging Effects
More than ever before, both teens and tweens are wearing makeup. In one survey, an online makeup retailer found that young girls are starting to use makeup regularly as early as age 11. That starting age has dropped several years since the 90s, and health professionals are concerned by this trend.
First, most of the makeup on the market actually have harmful chemicals in them. Researchers have linked these chemicals to various health issues due to the known or suspected effects on people’s hormones.
In young teens whose hormones are just developing, these chemicals can offset the body’s balance and could lead to detrimental effects like infertility and even skin cancer.
In the case of cancer, however, it is important to note that research merely shows a possible link. Studies would need a long lifespan of several decades to gain more conclusive evidence.
In addition, teens who use makeup often share it among friends, unknowingly spreading harmful bacteria. This practice can lead to eye infections, cold sores, common sicknesses, staph infections, and even herpes.
The teens usually have little idea about how their friends are actually using their own makeup. As one of the mildest side effects, sharing makeup can worsen acne due to bacteria, already a problem for thousands of teens.
At the same time, makeup itself can breed bacteria over time, causing damage even without makeup-sharing. Makeup provides a fertile breeding ground for bacteria, especially liquids like foundation, mascara, and lip gloss. The users then add their own bacteria from their hands and faces, and the makeup turns into a dangerous culprit for sickness or acne.
Preventing and Reversing Harmful Effects
Thankfully, many of the side effects involved with teens using makeup can be resolved. Rather than caking harmful makeup on their faces every day, parents and teens should limit the amount of makeup worn. They should also focus on proper skin care, helping them have beautiful skin naturally.
When the teens do wear makeup, they should take care to use water-based makeup and apply it with a light touch and clean brushes. In addition, they should avoid makeup with harmful ingredients such as parabens and phthalates. When in doubt about an ingredient, they should do their research before applying it to their skin.
Finally, teens should have a proper skin care routine, finding one best suited for their skin type. For oily skin, teens will need to find a water-based cleanser and light moisturizer.
For dry skin, the teen should focus on skin care to lock in more moisture. With any skin type, the user should find products free from harmful chemicals to support their healthy makeup collection.
Makeup can have damaging effects on its users, especially for teens. Teenagers are already dealing with skin issues from hormones, genes, and the germs around them. Adding makeup to the mixture can lead to eye infections like pink eye, staph infections, acne cosmetica, and even health issues. Instead of using makeup regularly, teens should focus on a healthy skin care routine. After a few months, they will be admiring their beautiful, glowing skin and forget about makeup altogether.
This article first appeared on AskDrManny.com.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.