Beauty Science: Oxidation

As I mentioned in my Beauty Busting post on Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation, I have a lot of difficulty finding foundation because I find that many different formulas oxidate on my skin.  What is oxidation?


Oxidation is when your makeup (usually foundation), turns colour when it dries.  Foundation will generally oxidize a little, but I am referring to when makeup changes by several shades when it dries; usually turning an ugly orange colour.  Like the name suggests, the makeup is reacting to the oxygen in the air.  The oxygen bonds with emollients (fats or oils in the makeup that keep skin moist) in the makeup.  The process causes the emollients to go rancid and produce off colours and off smells.

The problem is that not all foundation oxidize the same.  A person’s body chemistry play a large role.  Our bodies have different levels of PH and produce oils and all these factors interact with our makeup and change its properties.  Therefore, a makeup that oxidizes on me might not oxidize on you.

What can you do?

Some people recommend to get a foundation two shades lighter.  The thought is that if the foundation dries darker, the dried colour will match your skin tone.  I do not recommend this approach.  First of all, if you are very pale (like me), this is likely not an option.  Second, the foundation might still become an orange colour that might not suit your undertone.  Finally, if you are going to give a company your hard earned money, don’t pay for something that doesn’t work.

A second approach is to create a barrier between your skin and the product.  It unlikely that cosmetics companies will release a product that oxidizes badly to normal exposure.  It is far more likely that your skin chemistry is reacting to the foundation, which changes how it reacts to the natural oxygen in the environment.  Thus, if you apply a layer of moisturizer or primer to your skin before you apply the foundation, the foundation should be sitting on the moisturizer/primer, not directly on your skin, which could lessen the chance of a chemical reaction between the foundation and your skin.  Personally, this trick does not work very well for me.

The final option, which, let’s face it, isn’t a solution, is to test a product before it comes home with you.  I add some product from a tester to my skin to test it in-store.  This option kind of sucks for people like me that would rather shop online than go to a store, but it works.  So, I guess in sum, what can you do?  Not much.

Finding the culprit…

I am not sure if this will work, but you might be able to track which chemicals your skin reacts with.  The interactions between the ingredients might be too complicated to be able to isolate ingredients to watch for, but i am going to try it for my skin to see if i can find anything.  Because everyone is different, you would have to do this for yourself, but i will show you what i am trying.  Below are the ingredients for Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation, which I know oxidizes on me.  The ingredients listed in black are ingredients that are also in True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous Makeup, which does not oxidize on me.  Theoretically then, the items in purple, which are not in True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous Makeup, are the ingredients that I might be reacting with.

Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation Ingredient Breakdown:
Dimethicone – Silicone emollient for slip
Isododecane – Hydrocarbon which makes product spreadable, gives a feeling of weightlessness, and prevents moisture loss from skin
Nylon-12 – Thickening agent
Acrylates/Polytrimethylsiloxymethacrylate Copolymer – Holding agent (long-wear active ingredient)
Silica – Mineral for thickness, absorption.
Butylene Glycol – Multiple uses including slip and “penetration enhancement”.
PEG-10 Dimethicone – Polyethylene glycol compound used as a binding agent.
Isohexadecane – A dry-finish ingredient for oily skin
Isononyl Isononanoate – Skin conditioning agent extracted from lavender oil and cocoa oil
Pentylene Glycol – Slip agent
Synthetic Fluorphlogopite – Filler, used to increase the volume of the product
Bis-PEG/PPG-14/14 Dimethicone – Restore suppleness to dry skin
Magnesium Sulfate – A.K.A. Epsom salt.  Filler, used to increase the volume of the product
Phenoxyethanol – Oily ingredient used as a preservative
Caprylyl Glycol – Skin conditioning agent that also acts as a preservative
Acrylates Copolymer – General term.  Could serve multiple purposes including adhesive, stabilizer, emulsive, etc.
Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate – Little information available on this ingredient.  Derived from coconut oil.
Disteardimonium Hectorite – Clay compound used as a dispersing agent
Calcium Gluconate – Anti-inflammatory acts as an anti-irritant
Perlite – Volcanic Glass. Creates a matt effect
Magnesium Gluconate – Anti-bacteria for anti-acne properties
Tocopherol – A.K.A. Vitamin E.  Serves as an antioxidant
Aluminum Hydroxide – Opacifying agent
May Contain: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides – A.K.A. Pigment
True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous Makeup Ingredients:
Octinoxate (7%). Other: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Isotridecyl Isononanoate, PEG 9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Dimethicone/Polyglycerin-3 Crosspolymer, Sodium Chloride, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Chlorphenesin, Disodium EDTA, Acrylates Copolymer, Propylparaben, Ethylhexyl Hydroxystearate, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Aluminum Hydroxide, PEG- 9, Ethylparaben, Dipropylene Glycol, Isobutylparaben, Butylparaben
May Contain: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Bismuth Oxychloride

What I learned from this process:

This was kind of fun because i learnt a lot by going through the ingredient list.  I got a better appreciation for the quality of products in cosmetics and their role.  But ultimately, I am not sure that this would work.  After i compared these two foundations, I compared the purple items to the ingredients of two other products that I know oxidize on me.  One of the two did not contain any of the ingredients from my purple list.  I think the best you could do, is create a list of which product that you do not react to.  You will not be able to find the smoking gun, but it might still help you to be more informed when purchasing a product that you cannot test in-store.

Websites that list cosmetic ingredients and purposes:

Interesting Reads:

If you notice any errors in this post, please contact me so I can correct the error.


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