Makeup and Headaches, Part Two

A few years ago, I wrote a post about one of the headache triggers I had finally figured out. The culprit was my makeup. As I did more research, I found out that I wasn’t necessarily alone when it came to makeup and headaches going hand in hand, but it’s not something that gets talked about a lot. Still, even a few years later.

Normally, I’d link you to my original post, especially since it had a nifty recipe for making your own mineral foundation. But alas! The Great Data Loss of 2016 occurred, and there is no more link. But I still get a lot of search hits on the topic, so there are still folks affected by this.

makeup and headaches


So, What’s the Connection Between Makeup and Headaches?

Good question. It seems to vary from person to person. But here’s what I can tell you that I learned that worked for ME.

There’s a lot of crap in makeup. (Big secret, I know.) But there is. Unless you react to it, you probably don’t think about it.

The one ingredient that I found in common in forums and blog posts with people who had headaches and migraines when they used makeup, like I did, was bismuth oxychloride.

Bismuth oxychloride is really, really prevalent in makeup. Particularly in mineral makeup, oddly enough. Often people with sensitive skin react to bismuth oxychloride because it’s “poky,” according to Paula. Nobody seems to talk about the fact that it can be a migraine trigger. But Paula’s site *does* mention that “bismuth oxychloride nanoparticles appear to have a negative effect on human skin cells.” [from the link at the beginning of this paragraph.]

I narrowed it down to a cause of my own migraines by hunting down makeup that didn’t have it and putting it on. When I wore makeup that included bismuth oxychloride, I would get a migraine within an hour of putting it on. The headache would usually go away shortly after I would remove the makeup, even if the headache hadn’t responded to other solutions.

When I wore makeup that didn’t include bismuth oxychloride? No migraine. That’s scientific enough for me, honestly.

It’s clearly something that is a factor in my own migraines and headaches, so I have banished it from my makeup bag.

Is That It?

Yanno, it could be. It really could. But then there was that lawsuit involving Johnson & Johnson and talc and the fact that they’ve known for a long time that talc causes cervical cancer and other health problems.

Hmmm. There’s a crapload of talc in makeup.

Paula says that talc is groovy. In fact, a LOT of people say that talc is groovy. But I’m looking to take iffy stuff out of my life and, for me, talc is crazy iffy.

Plus, although it doesn’t seem to irritate lots of people, I have noticed that some eyeshadows are more irritating to me than others. So I recently went in search of talc-free versions, and guess what? No more sensitivity when I wear eyeshadow. How about that?

Again, I’m not saying that this is the same for everyone. It’s what’s worked for me. Your Mileage May Vary Significantly. Or this might help you narrow down some stuff that’s irritating you. Who knows, right?

Here’s another tidbit, though. I’ve heard several smaller manufacturers, who don’t use talc, talk about what they do use (mica) and the fact that in the quantities that they use, the two ingredients are similar in cost. So it’s not money that is keeping manufacturers using talc. If you’re sensitive, just find another brand. It sucks, I know, but it’s worth it.

What Solutions Exist if You Have Issues with Makeup and Headaches?

There are a lot of solutions, actually. The first is the easiest. You don’t have to wear makeup. Radical idea, I know, but hear me out.

Plenty of times I wander around all day without a stitch of makeup on and it doesn’t bother me one whit. Maybe this is due to my *cough* advanced age of soon-to-be 45, but it’s not a huge issue to me anymore. This is my face. It exists.

Another option is to make your own mineral makeup. I did this for a little while. But I’m impatient. And I’ll be honest: If I wanted to make makeup, that’s what I’d be doing with my life. Besides, there was the whole eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara problem to contend with.

The other option is to go with makeup that other people make. That is a little all-encompassing, isn’t it? It’s kind of meant to be, though, because if you have a problem with makeup and headaches, that’s how you need to start looking at your makeup bag. You have to be ruthless about hunting down ingredient lists and sticking to the ingredients and the brands that don’t give you a migraine, no matter what shiny, sparkly, super pretty makeup starts calling to you.

So what am I using now? Because yes, although there are plenty of days that I run around bare-faced, there are plenty of other days that I actually put on makeup for the day. Coming up next I’ll share what I’ve been using, why I like it, and what else I’ve been doing to avoid headaches from my makeup.