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Does skin need to breathe? — Beauty myths busted

We’ve all heard that expression, usually when an older relative is telling us to wear less makeup. “Skin needs to breathe.” But is there any truth behind the saying, or is it just an old wives’ tale?

How would skin breathe anyway?

woman with skin covered up

First off, no, your skin doesn’t breathe. Not in the sense of taking in air and using it to fuel your cells. Your skin gets its oxygen from your bloodstream via your lungs, the same as every other part of your body. The top layer of your skin is dead, so it can’t do much of anything.

Some oxygen is absorbed through your skin, but it’s a tiny amount. That absorption happens by osmosis, because your skin can absorb oxygen molecules through its natural oils. It's a process occurs whether or not you’re wearing makeup, so don’t sweat it if you can’t bear the thought of leaving the house without your face on.

So why shouldn’t we wear makeup 24/7? Well aside from the obvious smearing that would take place overnight, there are a few good reasons why you should give your skin the occasional break.

Makeup contains allergens

makeup damaged dry skin

Many people suffer from contact allergies, and most of them are caused by prolonged exposure. Fragrances, parabens, silicone, and latex are all commonly found in makeup and can cause allergic reactions. The longer you wear the product, and the more exposure to the allergen your skin has, the more likely it is an allergy will develop. Taking a break can prevent or delay the onset of contact allergies and help avoid rashes and breakouts.

Makeup can clog pores

Think about how many layers of product go into your usual makeup routine. Moisturizer, primer, foundation, concealer, blush, setting spray — oh my! Even light applications soon begin to build up, and that can cause problems for your skin.

Pores need to remain open in order to release oils and sweat throughout the day. If they get clogged with makeup you’ll soon know about it, because a breakout isn’t far behind. You can avoid this by looking for makeup products that are non-comedogenic (don’t block pores), and double cleanse each night to make sure you remove all traces of your makeup.

Makeup can trap dead skin cells 

You know how the top layer of your skin is already dead? Those cells are in the final stage of the cellular turnover cycle, where the bonds holding them break down and they are shed, revealing the soft new skin underneath. When you wear makeup on a regular basis, you’re applying products that hold the top layer of your skin in place. That can lead to a buildup of old cells at the surface of your skin, leaving it looking tired and dull.

Exfoliating properly is the best way to support desquamation, the process of skin shedding, and undo the effects of wearing makeup. Use a gentle exfoliator to help lift old, dead cells and leave your skin looking clearer and brighter.

How to keep your skin looking healthy

woman with healthy looking skin

Too much makeup won’t suffocate your skin, but you should stay on top of your skincare routine in order to counteract any negative effects it might cause. Taking the occasional break to limit any exposure to allergens — or better yet, avoiding using makeup products that contain them in the first place — is also a good idea. And of course, you shouldn’t sleep in your makeup!

The real secret to healthy skin lies at a cellular level, and you can support it by making sure it gets all the nutrients it needs. Your skin doesn’t need the air to breathe, but it does need a variety of vitamins and minerals from your bloodstream. That means eating a varied, balanced diet is much more important to your skin’s cellular health than going a day without makeup. A dietary supplement such as Qyral Sustain Cellular Health Supplement can also help keep your skin looking its best around the clock.

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