Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. I love getting dressed up, decorating my house and watching the kids in my neighbourhood totally freak out. But there is a dark side to Halloween, especially for those of us that suffer with acne. Between costume make-up, candy and partying, it is no wonder that many dermatologists are busier than normal in the two weeks that follow Halloween. I want to minimize the pain of Halloween for you and share some solid strategies to help you enjoy Halloween without paying the price for weeks afterwards. In other words, how to avoid getting acne this Halloween.
Make-up is a big part of Halloween. It allows us to transform and fully get into dressing up. But costume make-up is really tough on the skin and can contribute to acne in a big way. Most costume make-up is low quality and formulated to be on the shelf for a long time. Some of the ingredients include isopropyl myristate, which can directly cause acne, petroleum by-products, talc, dyes (especially red and blue), parabens and phalates. These ingredients can clog the pores, cause allergic reactions and cause long-term health problems.
Those with acne are especially affected by the ingredients in costume make-up. Often their moisture barrier has been compromised by using harsh skincare products and topical medications, which means those with acne are more likely to experience break-outs and allergic reactions.
- Avoid costume shop makeup. Instead, check out a make-up retailer such as Sephora. They have a much broader range of cosmetics and better quality ingredients – you can find some really great Halloween makeup that’s not filled with junk.
- Apply a primer before putting on Halloween makeup. I use Jane Iredale’s Smooth Affair Primer. It contains dimethicone which is a type of silicone. This is not something that I recommend every single day, but if you are going to be applying a face full of makeup, dimethicone provides a barrier between your skin and harsh make-up ingredients.
- Focus on applying make-up on the eyes and the lips instead of the skin.
- Don’t keep your make-up on too long. Definitely do not sleep with your makeup on. No matter how fun or how late your night is, be sure to wash the makeup off at the end of the night.
- The best way to wash your makeup off is with oils, especially if you are using an oil-based make-up. My facial cleansing method really works here. Use a microfiber cloth, apply the jojoba oil or the argan oil to the cloth, wipe the make-up off as much as you can, then rinse the cloth. Use a clean part of the cloth and wipe off any residual makeup. Repeat a few times.
- The day after Halloween, apply a gentle exfoliating treatment. I like using a beta-hydroxy acid, such as salicylic acid, because it is fat-soluable and able to penetrate into the pore and break up acne-causing lipids. Then apply a raw honey mask for at least 15 minutes. If you feel break-outs coming on, add a few drops of tea tree oil to the honey mask.
The bottom line is that consuming sugar creates blood sugar and insulin spikes in the body. This leads directly to acne. The best bet is to avoid sugar and alcohol completely. But realistically, nobody is as insane as I am, so I want to share some strategies that will help you keep your break-outs under control while you still have a crazy-good time.
- Most importantly, have three solid meals on the day of your Halloween celebration. All three meals should include a protein and tons of fruits and vegetables. Go way heavier on the veggies vs. the fruits.
- Limit the amount of treats that you devour. Don’t go crazy. Do it for the taste and the tradition – and keep your skin in mind.
- Do not eat your treats on an empty stomach. When you eat sugar on an empty stomach, your blood sugar and insulin levels will sky rocket and increase your chances of breaking out. Instead, eat your treats after a solid meal.
- And avoid dairy-based treats. Dairy aggravates acne.
How do you manage acne and alcohol? The best bet is to pass on alcohol, because it is very high in sugar and it can aggravate the liver. But if abstinence is not an option, I am happy to share some tips to help you keep your acne under control while having a great time.
- Do not drink cocktails, mixed drinks or beer. Many cocktails and mixed drinks include fruit juices, sugar and dairy. They are high in sugar and will spike your blood sugar and insulin levels, which can lead directly to acne.
- Drink clear liquors, such as vodka, and do not mix with pop or fruit juice. Instead, think vodka and soda with lime. This is the most acne-friendly drink out there.
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Eating a solid meal before drinking means that the protein and fats will help to ground your insulin and blood sugar levels, protecting you from inflammation and acne.
- Drink one big glass of water in between each alcoholic drink. Many people with acne have livers that are not great at detoxification, and the water will help flush the toxins through the body.
- If you wake up with a hangover the next morning, do not take Tylenol / acetominophen. Tylenol is very hard on the liver, and this can aggravate acne.
But most importantly, have an amazing Halloween! Be safe, have fun, and follow my tips to help you prevent a Halloween-induced break-out. xo