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Say Goodbye to Oxidized Makeup While Traveling: Tips and Tricks for Long-Lasting Beauty on the Go

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    Say Goodbye to Oxidized Makeup While Traveling: Tips and Tricks for Long-Lasting Beauty on the Go

    Imagine you’ve just gotten back to your hotel room after a beautiful day in the sun. As you look in the mirror, your jaw drops. The travel foundation and concealer you threw on this morning have somehow turned your face orange. You’ve officially been bitten by the oxidized makeup monster. But – What causes makeup to oxidize? What does it mean when makeup oxidizes? And can you prevent makeup from oxidizing?

    If you’ve asked yourself one or more of these questions before then you’re in the right place! We’ve compiled a need-to-know guide explaining what makeup oxidation is, how it affects your makeup, and even some helpful tips to prevent oxidation from happening to your rarely-used travel makeup. Here’s the scoop:

    What Causes Makeup to Oxidize?

    Makeup oxidation is a common problem that many people face, especially when traveling around the globe. It happens when the pigments in your makeup react with the air and oil on your skin, causing your makeup to change color and appear darker or orange-ish in tone.

    More factors that can cause makeup oxidation are:

    • Moisture: After a long day in the summer sun, your skin’s damp from sweating and other factors (like beach and/or pool time). In turn, this moisture can end up being transferred to your makeup and start a chemical reaction; AKA makeup oxidation.
    • Sunlight: Exposure to UV rays can break down the pigments in your makeup and cause it to oxidize faster, which means allowing your makeup to bask in the sun’s rays isn’t a good idea.
    • Ingredients: Certain ingredients in your makeup, such as iron oxides (chemical compounds composed of iron and oxygen), can react with the air and moisture around you to cause makeup oxidation. Additionally, some products may contain preservatives or chemicals that can speed up the oxidation process. (PS. Subtl Beauty only uses good-for-you ingredients!) 

    What Does It Mean When Makeup Oxidizes and What Does Oxidized Makeup Look Like? 

    When you apply oxidized makeup, it can give an uneven, patchy appearance to your complexion, making your skin appear less smooth (not to mention: orange!). Oxidation can happen with any type of makeup, including foundation, concealer, and blush.

    It's important to note that oxidation doesn't necessarily mean that your makeup is expired or no longer safe to use, though. Oxidized makeup just indicates that the pigment has changed due to the interaction between the product and your skin/outside environment. 

    If you’ve never experienced the woes of makeup oxidation (lucky for you), here’s what oxidized makeup looks like on the skin:

    Pictured: Fresh vs. Oxidized Makeup   |   Source: Reddit

    How Long Does It Take for Makeup to Oxidize?

    When it comes to how long it takes for your makeup to oxidize, the time can vary depending on multiple factors. For some, makeup can start to oxidize within minutes of applying it, while for others, it may take several hours or even longer.

    One of the main factors that may affect how quickly your makeup oxidizes is the type of product you’re using. Cream blushes, for example, can be more prone to oxidation than powder products because liquid and cream products have a higher moisture content.

    A Little Bit About Your Skin’s PH and Its Effect on the Time It Takes for Makeup to Oxidize

    Be real with us – do you know your skin’s pH? If you’re looking at me with suspicion plastered all over your face because you didn’t know your skin has a pH, let me explain: The pH is a numeric scale that indicates how acidic or alkaline something is – including your skin. 

    On the pH scale, 7 is neutral, below 7 is acidic, and above 7 is alkaline. But what does that have to do with your skin? “The pH of your skin is normal at 4.7,” says Anthony Youn, MD. “The thought is that if you alter that pH, you’re altering how healthy the skin is.”

    Pictured: The Skin pH Scale   |   Source: Healthline

    This is important because the pH level of your skin can affect how long it takes for your makeup to oxidize. If your skin is more acidic, makeup oxidation may happen quickly as the acid in your skin can interact with the makeup pigments. 

    To get your skin’s exact pH level, you’d have to consult your healthcare practitioner or dermatologist, but you can estimate your skin’s pH level by answering these eight questions:

    1) How does your skin feel after cleansing?

    a) Soft and smooth
    b) Tight and dry
    c) Slightly oily or not thoroughly clean

    2) How often do you moisturize your face?

    a) Every morning and evening
    b) Once a day
    c) Never

    3) Has your skin become sensitive to products you regularly use, including makeup and creams?

    a) No, it feels normal
    b) Once in a while
    c) It seems like my skin reacts to everything I put on it lately

    4) How often does your skin have dry, flaky, rough patches?

    a) Never
    b) Sometimes
    c) Usually

    5) Do you notice that your skin looks duller and has more lines in the morning?

    a) No
    b) Yes
    c) It’s a very rare occurrence

    6) Is your skin excessively oily and prone to breakouts (whereas it wasn’t in the past)?

    a) No
    b) Occasionally
    c) Yes

    7) Does your skin often look red and feel irritated?

    a) No
    b) It stings after applying products
    c) Yes

    8) Does your skin look plump, moist, and dewy?

    a) Almost always
    b) Rarely
    c) It’s plump, but more greasy than dewy

    Answer Key:

    • If you answered mostly B’s, your skin’s pH may be too high, which means that you could have alkaline (basic) skin. Having an alkaline pH means that your skin may be suffering from harmful bacteria, UV rays, and ingredients. To lower your skin’s pH, try pH-balancing or pH-neutral skincare products.
    • If you answered mostly A’s, your skin’s pH might be just right. This means that your skin could be at its most healthy as you’ve been doing skincare and makeup the right way (like with products that have ultra-clean ingredients like Subtl Beauty’s).  
    • If you answered mostly C’s, your skin’s pH may be too acidic, which can cause your makeup to oxidize pretty darn fast. Try incorporating more fruits, whole grains, and leafy vegetables into your diet to support your skin’s pH.

    How to Prevent Makeup Oxidation While Traveling

    Makeup oxidation – a lot of times – is caused by your environment or simple skin missteps, like not washing your hands before applying makeup or leaving your travel beauty case outside in the sun for too long. But with the right tips, tricks, and products, you can prevent makeup oxidation while traveling with ease. Here’s how:

    Apply Your Makeup With a Brush, Not Your Fingers

    Did you know your hands have oils and other contaminants on them that can cause your makeup to oxidize if they mix? Due to this, Zeichner says, “It’s important to use a brush and never your fingers or hands. Doing so will not only result in a smoother and more flawless application but, will also preserve the integrity of your makeup while preventing makeup oxidation.”

    SUBTL BEAUTY PROTIP: The Subtl Beauty Stack Brush BFF is an adjustable, multi-use brush that’s perfect for precision use and all-over face application. In addition to being a multi-functional savior, the Stack Brush BFF also comes with a lid so it won’t be rolling around your travel bag getting all gross. And guess what? It’s free with every purchase!

    Always Clean Your Face Before Applying Makeup

    Pictured: The Benefits of Using a Facial Cleanser   |   Source: Cloud Front

    Clean skin is healthy skin, and healthy skin is radiant skin (which is what we all want out of our complexion, right?). While it may seem tempting to quickly throw on some makeup without washing your face, your travels can wait a few minutes for some skin TLC. Be sure to always cleanse your face each morning, no matter where you are to avoid makeup oxidation. 

    SUBTL BEAUTY PROTIP: In need of a good-quality, clean concealer for your travels? The Subtl Beauty Hydrating Cream Concealer is a buildable medium-coverage formula that’s dewy, hydrating, and will keep your skin looking ultra-refreshed all day long, no matter your destination.

    Use a Translucent Powder

    As a busy traveler, mornings are probably the only time you’re able to apply your makeup, so you have to make sure it stays put all day long. “Translucent powders are colorless and used to brighten, reduce shine, absorb oil, and extend the time of your makeup,” says celebrity makeup artist Robert Sesnek. “Because of its brightening properties, the best areas on the face to apply a translucent powder are underneath the eyes, around the nose, and on the center of the chin. “

    SUBTL BEAUTY PROTIP: Need a lightweight translucent powder to help tackle your next vacation with? The Subtl Beauty Translucent Pressed Powder helps absorb excess oil to lower your risk of makeup oxidation. It also protects your skin from the harmful effects of blue light and locks your makeup in place for all-day-long wear. 

    Don't Let Your Travel Makeup Go to Waste: How Subtl Beauty Can Be Used Every Day for Effortless Beauty

    If you’re like the majority of travelers, you have makeup set aside that’s only used when you’re adventuring. But, since your travel makeup products aren’t applied often, they can expire, causing them to change color and oxidize. Thankfully, Subtl Beauty has you covered with the perfect travel beauty kit that can be used every day

    Our Subtl Beauty Stacks can replace your entire travel beauty case carry-on, making traveling in style easier than ever. The small but mighty Subtl Beauty Stack comes with 3.5g of formula in each layer (enough for three months of daily use!), along with a lid and makeup applicator. Each Subtle Beauty Stack is fully customizable and features only high-quality ingredients. 

    Want to build a stack and enjoy the portability of Subtl Beauty? Take the quiz here to find the products perfect for you and your skin. Need a quick beauty fix before traveling? You can grab one of these premade stacks. Either way, happy traveling, and remember: the Subtl Beauty Stack always has your back.

    See ya never, oxidized makeup!


    1. https://mydermconsult.com/blog/tips-for-balancing-your-skins-ph/
    2. https://www.byrdie.com/foundation-oxidize-4783286
    3. https://chem.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Analytical_Chemistry/Supplemental_Modules_(Analytical_Chemistry)/Electrochemistry/Redox_Chemistry/Definitions_of_Oxidation_and_Reduction
    4. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/oxidation
    5. https://www.britannica.com/science/oxidation-reduction-reaction
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