What skincare ingredients in foundation work

Skincare and foundation hybrids are the innovative makeup must-have we all need, but do the hardworking ingredients we’re used to really do anything when they’re in the form of a cosmetic? Beauty editor Kelsey Ferencak questions Dermatologist Dr Annika Smith to find out.

Makeup that fuses with skincare isn’t necessarily new, but as more and more foundations land across my desk loaded with complexion-enhancing ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and peptides it made me question how effective they really are.

Like Clinique’s new Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation SPF 20, $65 at Clinique launching February 14, which uses serum technology to correct, hydrate and smooth skin. Or Chantecaille Future Skin, $125 at Mecca formulated with seaweed, aloe, chamomile, green tea and rice bran for a myriad of skin-boosting benefits. There’s even old faithful It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream SPF 50, $63 at Sephora developed with plastic surgeons and infused with collagen, peptides and antioxidants it claims to brighten, hydrate and refine complexions.

But can they really protect against environmental aggressors, prevent breakouts and plump skin? I enlisted the help of Sydney Dermatologist Dr Annika Smith to find out.

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According to Dr Smith, we shouldn’t rely on foundation alone to treat any skin concerns. “Combination makeup/skincare products may be convenient and time saving however, it is dubious as to whether the quantity of active ingredients and penetration of these ingredients are sufficient to be of therapeutic benefit,” she says. “While actives in makeup may serve as an adjunct to skincare, I don’t think one can rely on these alone for treating a specific skin issue or problem.”

Which is fair. Sure, it may help to boost your routine – and why not opt for a formulation with good ingredients, after all it is sitting on your skin all day, but opting for a foundation with hopes for it to turn your complexion around is a bit of a stretch.

Dr Smith believes there’s no one-size-fits-all formula, so when choosing you foundation take into consideration your individual skin issues and skin type.

If you’re prone to acne and breakouts Dr Smith recommends seeing a dermatologist for the greatest chance of control and minimisation. “Ensure all skin formulations are labelled as oil free and non-comedogenic,” she adds. “Acne treatment and specific actives in topicals depend on the acne subtype and severity. Salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and nicotinamide (the latter for it’s anti-inflammatory and sebum lowering properties) are some ingredients in topical products that may assist with acne prone skin.”

For those with rosacea, niacinamide could help. “Again see your GP or dermatologist to establish a treatment regime that is appropriate for your skin,” says Dr Smith. “Nicotinamide which is the water soluble, active form of vitamin B3 serves many roles in the skin, one of which is anti-inflammatory and improving skin barrier function in rosacea patients.”

If your skin is dehydrated you may benefit the most from innovative foundations as many contain hydrating ingredients. “The addition of hyaluronic acid (a moisture magnet for the skin) and ceramides (lipid substances that help skin cell cohesion) are ingredients that together can help amplify hydration in the skin and reinforce skin barrier function (which serves to lock moisture in),” explains Dr Smith.

“[When it comes to oily skin], oil-free, non-comedogenic and lightweight formulations are best. Hyaluronic acid is compatible with most skin types and may assist with hydration without complicating an oily skin type, and topical nicotinamide may help reduce facial sebum production (based on clinical trial results),” she says.

Depending on your skin type and concerns you’re likely better off investing in a good quality skincare routine over a foundation. “Keep your skincare routine simple, avoid over complicating it with too many actives and layers, which can irritate the skin and contribute to skin barrier dysfunction,” explains Dr Smith. “The most vital ingredient in your skincare regime is sunscreen (SPF 50+, broad spectrum protection). It is the best anti-aging ingredient, arguably without this you are wasting your time on the rest.”

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