cassandra bankson wearing dermablend makeup

Reveal don’t conceal is the paradoxical message from cover up maker Dermablend in its latest ad campaign. Jumping on the real women bandwagon, the Dermablend ads are emotional testimonials featuring an unknown woman and a minor YouTube celebrity. The message is that Dermablend's concealing products aren’t camouflaging them but allowing them to be who they really are.

AdWeek gushed about how empowering the Dermablend ads are. The two women remove their concealing makeup and talk candidly about their skin conditions. Cheri Lindsay has vitiligo, which causes depigmentation of the skin, and Cassandra Bankson has severe acne. And, indeed, they are extremely moving. They are also beautiful and inspirational. For all that it is counterintuitive and ironic, Dermablend’s campaign is great. I wish I could say the same for their products.

Created in 1981 by an American dermatologist, Dermablend tends to be recommended by doctors for heavy-duty coverage for birthmarks, bruising, post-surgical redness and pigmentation disorders. They certainly have long-lasting (up to 16 hours) coverage, and the buildable formulas enable smooth blending.

Sadly, the formulas incite a breakout just by looking at them. For a company making products for women with serious skin conditions, it is surprising — nay, shocking — to see so many controversial ingredients in them.

Take Dermablend Cover Creme ($37), for example. The main ingredient is mineral oil, an inexpensive petrochemical byproduct made from petroleum. Mineral oil forms an impenetrable film over skin that traps in toxins and hinders normal skin respiration. Not only does it create a heavy feeling, but it can also plug up pores and lead to breakouts. Then, there’s talc. A National Toxicology Program report found that cosmetic grade talc, even without any asbestos-like fibers, caused tumors in animals, and a group of senators have tried to have it banned. And there’s isopropyl palmitate, a synthetic emollient that can cause skin irritation.

Dermablend Smooth Indulgence Foundation ($32) has several iffy ingredients as well, including phenoxyethanol, a potential neurotoxin, controversial parabens, silicones and aluminum hydroxide.

When it comes to ingredients that are bad for your skin, Dermablend really has it covered.