Makeup Ingredients to Avoid If You Have Dry Skin

Makeup Ingredients to Avoid If You Have Dry Skin

If you have dry skin, putting on makeup can be a dread-inducing experience. Between flaking, irritation, and uneven application, you almost feel like you end up looking worse - and it can exacerbate your symptoms if you’re already dealing with these concerns.

Unfortunately, many popular makeup ingredients can make things even worse. Here are the ingredients to avoid if you have dry or dehydrated skin.

Ingredients to Avoid With Dry Skin


Many products contain some sort of alcohol since it can help ingredients penetrate the skin. But it’s a very drying irritant - and a common trigger of eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.

You’ll see alcohols most frequently in lotions, gels, and makeup products that have “quick-drying” or “matte” benefits. And it’s not always straightforward to spot; it can be found under many names, including SD Alcohol, Denatured Alcohol, or Isopropyl Alcohol.

To avoid this no-no culprit, look for products that don’t list alcohol until far down on the ingredient list. It’s less likely to cause major irritation if it’s found in the lowest concentrations.


fragrance irritates dry skin

Here’s the thing: the term “fragrance” is often used to refer to a wide range of harmful chemicals and cosmetics companies don’t classify because federal law doesn’t require brands to list chemicals on their fragrance mix labels(which is why it’s on our list of no-no skincare ingredients). Unfortunately, though, you can find both synthetic and natural fragrances in most products on the market.

Specifically, it can be found in most personal care products, including sunscreen, shampoo, soap, body wash, deodorant, body lotion, makeup, facial cream, skin toner, serums, exfoliating scrubs, and perfume. The biggest perpetrators to look for here?

  • Acetaldehyde
  • Benzophenone
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  • Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  • Benzyl Salicylate
  • Benzyl Benzoate
  • Butoxyethanol
  • Butylphenyl methylpropional
  • Chloromethane
  • Dichloromethane
  • Diethyl phthalate
  • Essential oil mixture
  • Eugenyl methyl ether
  • Formaldehyde
  • Methanol
  • Oxybenzone
  • Propylparaben
  • Titanium dioxide

This can be hugely damaging for all  skin types, but particularly so for dry or dehydrated skin. Many fragrances, specifically, contain hormone disruptors and skin allergens. In fact, they are among the top 5 allergens in the world.


Everyone knows that parabens are “bad” - but few people really know why.

First off, what are they? Parabens are preservatives and synthetic ingredients that are added to products to lengthen their shelf life.

There are several studies that show that parabens mimic estrogen and that they’ve been linked to breast cancer, skin cancer, and decreased sperm count. According to the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products, longer chain parabens can also disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive and developmental disorders.

This makes them bad news for pretty much anyone. That said, they can be especially irritating for those with dry skin because this population is already prone to irritation and allergy.

Consider clean, paraben-free products instead (which will be labeled as such) and avoid any products that have ingredients with the suffix “-paraben” on their label.

Glycolic and Salicylic Acid

exfoliation dry skin irritation

Glycolic acid and salicylic acid are effective chemical exfoliants that are used to reduce skin congestion and clear clogged pores. That said, any  chemical exfoliation can be harsh on dry, dehydrated skin, and use should be limited if you suffer from these conditions.


PEGs are the tiny plastic beads that are commonly used in face scrubs, lip scrubs, and exfoliating washes. While the chemical can be gentler on the skin than natural exfoliators like walnut shells, it’s often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a probable human carcinogen that can easily penetrate the skin. On top of that, it’s also known to cause skin irritation and even pollute waterways.

The point? Stay away.

Benzoyl Peroxide

This ingredient is super common for treating acne and skin congestion. For people with dry skin, especially, it can cause major negative reactions like peeling, itching, irritation, and redness.

What Should You Use Instead?

For dry skin types and dehydrated skin, dermatologists recommend that you use ingredients that will plump and protect your skin. This includes humectants (which attract water to the skin) like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, along with emollients (which soften the skin) like botanical oils. You can use our Bright Side Cream Cleanser for dry skin as well. If you have dry skin on the body, use a product like our Coco Cocoa Creme Body Butter that doesn't contain any skin drying chemicals as well.

Here’s to dewy, hydrated skin for all.