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Six Tips To Know Before Using Waterproof Makeup This Summer

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Photo by Shutterstock.
Photo by Shutterstock.

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The sun is out, the weather is nice: it's officially summer. But before you reach for that stay-put foundation or no-smudge mascara, there are some key facts to know about going waterproof. Makeup that lasts through sweat and oil is heavier and contains specific ingredients which could lead to skin problems.

We sought the counsel of beauty experts from our favorite makeup brands to learn what to look for in waterproof makeup, which ingredients to stay away from, and how to remove your products safely.

Try "water resistant" before "waterproof"
When buying makeup for summer, don't automatically assume you have to go straight for a waterproof label. The elements in waterproof products are thicker and water resistant products might get the exact same job done with less weight.

"I'd only use waterproof when needed. I use it if the bride I'm [putting makeup on] is emotional or if you're jumping in a pool," Alexis Comforti, a global makeup artist with Laura Mercier, said. "Water resistant works just as well if you are worried about sweat, or makeup staying on while you walk around. The sealants are lighter and gentler on your skin. People use waterproof for long-lasting and that's fine but there are products that are lighter. You want your skin to breathe more."

Stay away from items with silicones
Waterproof makeup contains special ingredients to block out water, including animal-derived and vegetable-based waxes, solvents and polymers. The beauty industry has come a long way in weeding out products that are truly harmful to your skin, but some beauty companies still use silicones, which experts say might cause skin irritation, breakouts, and even allergic reactions in large quantities.

"I would really opt to not use something if silicone is a primary ingredient; if it takes over an entire product, I'd be apprehensive," Comforti said. "It's a heavy ingredient that will congest your skin and even clog your pores."


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Silicones are commonly found in waterproof foundations and loose powders and are a key ingredient in keeping liquid makeup from melting. Comforti said small amounts of silicones are generally okay but suggested customers stay away from makeup products where silicones are a main ingredient.

Look for polymers like Acrylates Copolymer and Isododecan
A basic ingredient found in most makeup, polymers are film-forming molecules that give beauty products long-wear ability. The molecules' flexible film eventually evaporates to provide long-wear capabilities waterproof makeup needs, explained Clinique's VP of Global Product Development, Scott Miselnicky.

"Polymers are very safe. They dissolve so that when they evaporate, the makeup left on skin or lashes is resistant to water and oil," he explained. "These are considered good ingredients: the flexible films, in a case of mascara, don't allow the makeup to smudge or flake."

Miselnicky recommends checking products for polymers like Acrylates Copolymer and Isododecane, two popular ingredients with waterproof capabilities that still won't harm your skin.

If you are going waterproof, invest in a proper makeup remover
Waterproof makeup requires serious products for its removal. Comforti said it's important to purchase heavy, oil-free cleansers specific for waterproof beauty products because standard makeup removers won't do the job.

"These products are heavier and harder to get off. If you're using the wrong cleanser, ultimately you'll leave mascara remnants," she said. "Waterproof is almost like a stain: it'll clog your pores and your skin won't breathe. I wouldn't wear waterproof unless I know I have the right cleanser."

Relying on regular methods of removal, like using your everyday cleanser, won't do the job and Comforti said improper treatment could also cause skin damage.


Image via Shutterstock

"All that scrubbing at your eyes could cause damage to your lashes and the surrounding areas. It could also dehydrate your skin," she added. "In the summer months when we're lazy with cleansing, you have to remember to invest in products that will remove the sealants in waterproof."

Don't wear waterproof every day
Waterproof mascara might do the job for a pool day, but the formulas don't include conditioning agents that are good for eyes, like meadow foam, seed oil, or argan oil, according to Myiesha Sewell, a pro makeup artist with Sephora. Sewell does not recommend using waterproof mascara every day.

"It's nice to give them a try. There are some days where you might need it [but] you don't need a raincoat every day," she said.

Opt for waterproof spray
If you know your skin won't do well with the heavy ingredients found in waterproof products like foundation, Sewell recommends using a waterproof spray on top of your usual choice of makeup item.

"[Sprays] seal your makeup. [It] creates a sweat-proof, rub-resistant barrier. This is going to let you wear your favorite foundation but still get the long wear you're wanting," Sewell said.
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