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Can Make-Up Make My Skin Age Faster?

If you were the girl who, up until that ambiguous age of legal adulthood, had spent so much time and work applying and perfecting her make-up for a more dazzling – and secretly, just a bit older – look, could your wish have been granted… with a sinister aftereffect?

How to determine if long-term make-up use causes premature aging depends largely on how you define the words “aging” and “use”. Will using make-up somehow shave a few extra years off your life? Probably not. Can it make your skin look older than it would if you had never touched that blush brush? Well, anything is possible.

The Bad News

“Aging” can be somewhat explained as the gradual falling-apart and death of cells (but we`re mostly concerned with how it makes us look); so let`s explore this question with a breakdown of some things that make-up can allegedly do to skin.

Clogging pores

This may lead to unsightly and unpleasant acne, which sometimes causes a nasty cycle of applying make-up to cover acne caused by make-up – which, in turn, causes more acne. However, many modern beauty products are “non-comedogenic”, meaning it`s less likely to block your pores. Having this word on the label is practically a requirement for make-ups made for complexion-conscious buyers.

Blocking the sun

Much like a mad scientist, make-up would have to go to some extremes, indeed, to pull this one off. Although sunshine is essential for healthy skin, about 15 minutes a day is a safe dosage for your vitamin D. Getting too much sun is by far worse for your skin than getting too little.

Cancer via Talc

This common cosmetic ingredient has gotten quite its share of controversy lately. Mineral Make-up users warn that talc is a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) linked to uterine and lung tumors. And yes, talc is the same stuff your mother used as diaper powder on your backside however long ago.

The FDA currently hasn`t banned this age-old product. Realistically, you probably won`t develop cancer from talc unless you`re inhaling it or using it in places close enough for particles to migrate to your reproductive organs. But it might be “better safe than sorry”, right?


Bacteria are known to thrive in conventional make-up. However, complications can be avoided by protecting your make-up from contamination and throwing away expired make-up.

The Good News

As a general rule, simply washing your make-up off at the end of the day will keep most of make-up`s potential risks from becoming a problem down the road. As to make-up making your skin “older”, there is no conclusive evidence yet to show that make-up use causes your face to age more prematurely than it would otherwise.

In most cases, it would be safe to guess that if your best friend, the make-up junkie, looks more haggard in the morning than after her daily primping ritual, it may not be because years of cosmetic addiction have stolen her next seven birthdays. Instead, maybe her touch-ups have made you more used to the made-over version of her; so the real best friend looks older or less polished than the out-in-public best friend, by contrast.

Although there are always exceptions – like that grandparent who smoked like a steakhouse until the day he died, at the age of 88. Some people just look young longer without make-up. These exceptions are usually due to other, less visible factors. Maybe Grandpa made a deal with the Devil?

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