Woman with acne spots pimple on face

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NEW YORK — Nearly two in five (39%) Americans have skipped social events due to skin flare-ups. A survey of 2,000 adults who wear makeup reveals a whopping six in 10 (60%) have declined invites to a night out with friends because of a visible skin blemish on their face.

Other commitments people have missed include a birthday party (56%), job interview (53%), dinner party (53%) and date night (43%). More than seven in 10 (72%) of those polled say they have sensitive skin. Of those respondents, 82 percent note skin sensitivity significantly affects their confidence.

The top barriers to feeling confident? Irritation (20%) and itching (19%).

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Almay, the survey also finds what factors may be contributing to people’s increased skin sensitivity. One of these factors may be seasonal — 45 percent say their skin tends to feel more sensitive to environmental or other triggers in the winter than in other seasons.

Infographic on sensitive skin
(Credit: SWNS)

When their skin flare-ups, 37 percent hide behind a large scarf or hat, but only 36 percent regularly wash these items in the wintertime. What skin issues do people experience in the winter? Itching (49%), redness (46%), irritation (44%) and acne (36%).

While some practice good skincare habits in the colder months, including moisturizing their face (48%), using a humidifier (43%) and applying sunscreen (43%), they also do things that may irritate their skin further. Among the practices that may exacerbate skin sensitivities are wearing wool-based clothing (39%), covering their face with a scarf or mask (29%) and wearing synthetic clothing (19%).

Surprisingly, nearly six in 10 (57%) people wear more makeup in the winter than in other seasons, with many doing so to feel their best (72%) or as part of their self-expression (61%). At the same time, though, six in 10 (60%) of these respondents use makeup to cover up reactions due to skin sensitivities such as redness or acne.

Interestingly, only 18 percent visit a dermatologist when a flare-up occurs.

“Our research indicates some winter habits people have may be contributing to their skin sensitivity symptoms. For example, wearing synthetic clothing to protect the head, neck and face may not be as breathable as natural fabrics, potentially making you sweat more and causing a skin reaction,” says a spokesperson for Almay, in a statement. “Moisturizing regularly and opting for fabrics such as cotton and those made from wood pulp can help those with sensitive skin issues, in addition to using makeup that’s made for sensitive skin.”

Makeup may be a part of people’s routines year-round, but 37 percent say wearing it in the winter irritates their skin, with eyeshadow (25%) and foundation (24%) causing the most irritation. The parts of their face with the most sensitive skin in the winter months are their lips (22%) and chin (20%).

“There are proactive steps people can take to take care of their skin sensitivities without sacrificing their makeup routine in the colder months,” the spokesperson adds. “Look for hypoallergenic makeup that has been tested by a dermatologist and/or ophthalmologist to ensure it’s suitable for your skin and less likely to trigger reactions.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 U.S. adults who wear makeup was commissioned by Almay between Nov. 7 and Nov. 8, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

About Patrisha Antonaros

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