Makeup for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Makeup for red flaky skin

Got skin drama? The first choice many of us turn to is makeup, right? Unfortunately, when you’ve got seborrheic dermatitis (major redness, oily skin and crazy-dramatic flakes), makeup sometimes makes it worse. With 20 years of seborrheic dermatitis AND makeup wearing experience, I’ve got a few tips. I can’t promise miracles, but try these suggestions for making the most of a scaly situation. (Contains affiliate links)

1. Flakes Be Gone: Makeup on top of flaky skin just does not work. Then you’ll just be wearing flakeup (get it?!).  Honestly, no makeup is better than weird beige-colored face dandruff. Gentle exfoliation can help prepare the skin. Now, if you over-irritate the skin it will end up red and oily. But try a konjac sponge, Clarisonic or a product with a very, very gentle scrubby quality. You can carefully pick off the worst of the worst flakes but don’t make things worse!

2. Pat Pat Pat: For all your moisturizers, serums and foundations . . . use a patting quality rather than a rubbing quality. The rubbing can create more flakes. Those little foam wedges work great for this, though they do soak up some product. Use a clean one every day please! Bacteria is like fuel for seborrheic dermatitis.

3. Prime Time: You need something to create a smooth layer over the skin, before the foundation. Try Maybeline Baby Face (about $4.50). I love it! Only use a tiny amount and smooth it on AFTER your moisturizer is dry, then wait until primer is dry before applying makeup. The Smashbox Photo Finish Primer is even more amazing, but costs a bit more ($16).

4. Go Green: Since green is opposite red on the color wheel, it helps tone down redness. So as weird as it seems, rubbing on green creams won’t make you look like an alien, but actually might make you look more human. A great affordable option ($10) is L’Oreal Paris Studio Secrets Anti-redness Color Correcting Primer, which is perfect for an all-over reduction of pink skin. But for a serious fight against glaring red patches, try something like Dermablend’s Redness Concealer. It’s amazing! If you ever find that a green product is just a little TOO green, try mixing it with your moisturizer, primer or foundation for a custom redness-reducing product.

5. Powder with Caution: Only use powder if you are having a flake-free day. It can make your skin look dry and dull. The exception to this rule would be mineral powders such as Bare Minerals, which are used in place of a foundation and can actually look pretty great on seborrheic dermatitis. I used Bare Minerals for YEARS and found that it not only looked good on my skin, but improved my skin’s condition!

6. Try, Try Again: It’s all about trial and error, my friends! I’ve tried dozens of foundations and I’m still looking for something that works. Right now I am loving ELF Foundation Serum.

What is your best makeup tip for seborrheic dermatitis?! Please share in the comments. Most of all, dig deep into your emotional reserves and exude beauty and confidence from within. Honestly, nobody is staring at your flaky nose if you’ve got a big smile, sparkly eye shadow, a dirty joke, a clever anecdote or an act of kindness. Sorry for the cheesiness, but I truly believe that while makeup is fun and can give you a nice boost of spirit, you can be beautiful without a trip to Sephora.

17 thoughts on “Makeup for Seborrheic Dermatitis

  1. Thanks Emily for your awesome tips. I was recently diagnosed with SD after 2 years of wondering what was going on with my face and thinking I was suffering of dry skin..


  2. Thank you for this! Struggling to find the right primer but found that the Urban Decay Naked foundation is really kind to my skin. Will head off and look for the ones you recommended! Hope you’re still doing this blog 🙂


    1. Yes I recommend Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil it just their mineral powder foundation. It’s perfect for SD. Just go very very light if you are currently flaking.


  3. I just stumbled across this lovely piece and it made me smile. I suffer from SD and have done for years. I have had a few months of good skin and now suffering a flare up. (Hence the google search for that impossible cure) I needed to read this to remind me I’m not the only one. It does feel like it when I look around me and I’m the only one with a crusty face! Keep smiling!


  4. Thanks for your awesome tips. I have suffered with dermatitis for year. I have already gave up make up. But i find your post and i think i give it a try


  5. One of the things I have found is that the areas with seb derm tend to “melt” away makeup after only a couple hours. I tried soooo many makeups and primers and got the same melted results every time. Then I found setting spray.

    Use a setting spray over makeup and then a super fine mineral finishing powder. I was skeptical the first time I sprayed my face because I basically soaked the foundation but it dried quickly and I gave a quick light powder with finishing powder and for the first time in years my makeup stayed even in my worst seb derm spots. I used Urban Decay All Nighter spray.


  6. Hi 🙂 thanks for the posts I too suffer from s.d.
    I have found that moisturizers from clean
    N clear ( Johnson n Johnson) have worked really well for me . I need oil free to not encourage symptoms and I also discovered my skin hates silica which is in most oil free products . I use clinic mild bar soap for cleansing and am
    In a flare right now – I tried something new wasn’t for me. So back to the calming process . This has been a challenge – currently looking for a new foundation . Any suggestions welcomed – without silica . Thanks


  7. After some research to help get rid of the flakes and dryness I wash my face with a pea size amount of dandruff shampoo twice a week. It works amazing and creates a smooth canvas for foundation. It sounds weird but I promise it works just like it works on your scalp because your face has tiny hairs too!


    1. Yes! I’ve first heard this from a dermatologist who says she uses Nizarol on her face twice a week. When I use my dandruff shampoo in my scalp, I’ll let some drift into my forehead. But I don’t do my whole face unless things are really bad. The sulfates are just too drying for me. Good suggestion for others to try though!! And glad it works for you!


  8. Hi all,
    Oh my how amazing to finally come across a post where everyone has the same symptoms.

    So guys I’ve been to so many skin dermatologists in London and most have just said to use elidel or daktakot which does work but it’s obv not good to use on a regular basis.
    Most also said to use cetaphil cleanser which I found to be the best amongst others such as la roche .

    But the other day I just came across the cetaphil gentle exfoliating cleanser which can be used every day and smooths your face out, now this with a Konjac sponge works wonders.
    I have just come across Konjac sponges and ladies I assure you, your skin will love it. It’s so gentle on skin, and this combo is must buy.


  9. Tart bb tinted treatment primer! I use it as a foundation and set it with very light powder like a mineral veil. I’m a hairstylist and after 8 hours of cutting, styling, and blow drying hair I still look like I just put it on! Tart it a clean line. It works great for me!


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