Double-Duty Makeup: Cosmetics That Multitask

Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on March 04, 2013
From the WebMD Archives

You expect beautiful color and smooth coverage from your makeup. It's art and camouflage. What if some cosmetics could also create fuller lips or longer lashes than Mother Nature gave you? Or fix skin problems as they cover imperfections?

Here's a look at the promises, perks, and fizzles you may find at the makeup counter.

Lip Plumpers

The same substance doctors use to smooth and hide frown lines or crow's feet can give you pouty lips a la Angelina Jolie. For wrinkle control, doctors can inject hyaluronic acid. For fuller lips at home, it comes in a lip balm or gloss.

Cinnamon and capsaicin from hot peppers are also common in plumpers, says Clarissa Luna, a New York-based celebrity makeup artist. These ingredients irritate your lips, which increases blood flow, making them look fuller.

"It does temporarily swell the lip area," says New York-based celebrity makeup artist David Maderich. "It tends to tingle when you put it on, but the effect only lasts 45 minutes."

Should you keep one in your purse and reapply often?

Lip plumpers are fine to use occasionally, but don't use one as your go-to product. Ni'Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist with Englewood Lab, says they work by inflaming your skin. "I wouldn't advise using them all day, every day."

Keratin Mascara

If you wear mascara for longer-looking eyelashes, (and who doesn't?) you may be intrigued by wands with keratin, a conditioning protein. Some makers suggest that this ingredient can help you grow longer lashes and more of them, over time. Could you have Zooey Deschanel's luxurious lashes in a few months? The science doesn't back up this idea, yet.

"Keratin simply forms a film on the lashes, [making them] appear thicker and fuller," Wilson says. "The effect only lasts as long as the mascara is on the lashes."

Makeup artist Maderich does see a couple pluses from using keratin mascara, "You might have softer, more beautiful eyelashes that are less prone to break," he says.

And like other mascaras, it adds high drama to your look right away.

BB and CC Creams: 5 Products in 1?

How much time could you save in the morning if your foundation was packed with sunscreen, moisturizer, pimple ointments, wrinkle cream, and more? Plenty!

That's why blemish balm (BB) and color control (CC) creams are hot and getting hotter. Chemists don't know yet whether they truly improve your skin. So trying one for a few weeks is the best test.

BB and CC creams are more sheer and natural than ordinary foundations. Different formulas for these multi-tasking products actually are very similar. So you can't go wrong if you pick one because you like its fragrance or texture.

What's the difference between BB and CC? "Color control creams are supposed to be lighter in feel, have more of a focus on correcting discoloration, and be more nourishing. But to be perfectly honest, there isn't much of a difference," Wilson says.

Don't expect a BB or CC cream to have the best sunscreen or pimple protection on the market. If you have a specific issue, buy a product designed to help your problem.

Sunscreen May Need to Go Solo

Makeup with an SPF rating is better than nothing, but it won't offer real sun protection by itself.

"To achieve the SPF on the bottle, you need a teaspoonful for the face," says dermatologist Elizabeth K. Hale, MD, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology. "It would look unnatural, like a caked-on layer."

Instead, put a base coat of regular sunscreen under your foundation every morning. Choose a broad-spectrum sunblock with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Mineral Makeup for Shimmer and More

Many women love the look of mineral foundations. They're made up of tiny particles that reflect light, which gives you a bright, healthy glow. These powders usually include a classic sun-blocker like zinc oxide or titanium oxide. They reflect away the sun's rays, providing additional sun protection.

"As the UV rays hit the particles [of makeup], they are scattered," Wilson says. "The likelihood of them penetrating into the skin is greatly reduced."

For full sun protection, apply a base coat of sunscreen beneath mineral makeup.

Show Sources


American Academy of Dermatology.

Clarissa Luna, makeup artist of the year, 2011.

David Maderich, celebrity makeup artist, New York.

Elizabeth K. Hale, MD, American Academy of Dermatology, Skin Cancer Foundation, Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York.

Ni'Kita Wilson, cosmetic chemist, vice president of product development for Englewood Lab.

Allergan/Latisse: "Real Lash Growth."

© 2013 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info