The World's Gentlest Makeup

Follow six expert tips to prettify, problem-free.

Gentle Makeup

Sometimes your skin acts like a cranky toddler — almost anything sets it off. The wrong eye shadow can give you puffy lids. A new foundation? Itchy bumps. But there's no need to break up with makeup.

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1 Moisture First

If you skipped moisturizer this morning, you might see funny stuff in the mirror before bed. "When your skin barrier is dry and compromised, it can become vulnerable," says Mona Gohara, MD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine.

Look for a lotion that has glycerin or hyaluronic acid to draw moisture to the skin, along with emollient ceramides or shea butter. Extra points if it includes soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients such as aloe, rose, or bisabolol (which comes from chamomile). Need more motivation? When your skin is hydrated, makeup goes on smoothly and looks fresher.

Eau Thermale Avène Mineral Ultra-Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ ($28,, Kiehl's Skin Rescuer ($40,

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2 Read the Small Print

Got sensitive skin? Look for products labeled fragrance-free, says cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski. Even natural scents and essential oils, like lavender and citrus, can irritate. Another culprit may be preservatives, like parabens. They're frequently found in liquid makeup, says Romanowski, so choose a foundation and concealer that are also preservative-free to avoid a flare-up. Or try a mineral powder foundation made from micronized zinc and titanium dioxide. (Bonus: These also provide some sun protection.) Naturally bacteria resistant, mineral-based makeup is typically preservative-free.

Jane Iredale PurePressed Base Mineral Foundation (3 shades shown, $42,, RMS Beauty "Un" Cover-Up in 11 ($36,, BareMinerals BareSkin Complete Coverage Serum Concealer in Tan ($20,

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3 Watch What You Put On Your Eyes

Because the skin here is so thin, it can get irritated easily, says Gohara. If you've had minor disasters in the past, like waking up puffy after wearing new eye makeup, take this advice: Skip pink, orange, and bronze shades for shadows and liners. They contain red dyes that tend to bother sensitive lids, Gohara explains. Play it safe with cool tones like gray or lilac instead. For mascara, look for a fragrance- and preservative-free formula, and apply it mostly on the tips of the lashes, away from your lids.

Clinique Chubby Lash Fattening Mascara in Jumbo Jet ($17,; Aveda Petal Essence Single Eye Color in Lilac Glow, Amethyst Dawn, and Blue Lapis ($15 each,; Vapour Organic Beauty Mesmerize Eyeliner in Viper ($20,

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4 Add Color, Sidestep Sparkle

When picking a blush or bronzer, it's best to steer clear of anything overly glittery. Those glinty bits "can be scratchy on your skin," says Gohara. If you want a little gleam, pick a cream formula. "It creates a cushiony barrier between your skin and the shimmery particles," says celebrity makeup artist Jenny Patinkin, who has very finicky skin herself.

Honest Beauty Luminizing Powder in Dusk Reflection ($25,, Mineral Fusion Rio Blonzer ($30,, IT Cosmetics CC+ Vitality Brightening Crème Blush in Je Ne Sais Quoi ($24,, W3LL People Purist Luminous Mineral Blush in Satin Coral Pink ($23,

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5 Use a Soft Touch

If you've got brushes with synthetic bristles, consider swapping them out for gentler natural alternatives. "Synthetic bristles are more likely to become dry and brittle, and can scratch your skin," says Gohara. For cream-based makeup, try a soft, non-latex sponge — or clean fingertips. And even though it's easy to forget or blow off, wash your applicators once a week with a gentle, non-soap face cleanser.

Japonesque Kumadori Contour & Highlighting Brush ($19,, Beautyblender Original ($20 each,

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6 Cleanse With Care

Overdoing it with harsh cleansers, abrasive brushes, or face scrubs every night can lead to trouble for anyone. Gohara recommends a careful double-cleanse technique to take off makeup and wash your face.

"Using two mild cleansing products minimizes the amount of elbow grease required," she says.

Start with a gentle makeup remover (natural coconut or jojoba oil will do in a pinch) that will effectively take off eye makeup — even mascara — and follow with a creamy, sulfate-free face wash that removes any last traces of dirt or grime but won't strip your skin.

Simple Cleansing Micellar Water ($7,, Yes to Carrots Fragrance Free Daily Cream Facial Cleanser ($8,

This story originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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