We all strive for healthy perfect skin, and the itchy, flakey skin and inflamed red sores due to eczema can be severely uncomfortable and often take a toll on your appearance and confidence. Eczema affects about 10% of Americans and is spread out between eight specific types. Though the symptoms are a pain, luckily eczema is manageable with a little bit of time and attention.
One of the main factors of eczema control is what you put on your body. The products you use on your skin and hair can either make symptoms better or worse, so let’s look into some of the common ingredients in skin care, hair care, and makeup that can be a hero or a villain for your eczema prone skin.
Ingredients to avoid if you have eczema
Eczema is one of the most common skin conditions, and rates are only going up due to the increase in abrasive ingredients that are more commonly being added to skin care and makeup products. One of the first steps to managing eczema symptoms is knowing what ingredients trigger your symptoms, and avoiding them like the plague. When investing in beauty products, read the ingredient label carefully, and take the ones that contain the following ingredients out of your cart.
- Glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and retinol - While these ingredients aid in exfoliation and anti-aging, they are typically too abrasive and drying for those with eczema.
- Fragrance - It may be soothing to your sense of smell to use floral scented face creams, but it has a far from soothing effect on sensitive, eczema-prone skin. Even the slightest masking fragrance can trigger an eczema flare-up. Fragrance free products are a safe bet, and you’ll come to find that most products are available in fragrance free variations. Just make sure they are labeled fragrance free and not just “unscented” as unscented products often still contain masking fragrance, so keep an eye on those ingredients.
- Harsh preservatives - Preservatives are necessary in order to keep products from growing bacteria, which keeps them from going bad and gives them a longer shelf life. However, not all preservatives are created equal. Chemical preservatives like triclosan, formaldehyde, parabens, and a wealth of others with names too long to pronounce are all abrasive for those with sensitive skin. Opt for products that use preservatives derived from natural ingredients like caprylhydroxamic acid, glyceryl caprylate, sodium benzoate, and potassium sorbate.
- Sulfates - The purpose of sulfates is to act as a detergent to clean hair and skin. They are good at removing oil, but they go too far, and completely strip both hair and skin of its natural oils that are vital for health and hydration. The exacerbates eczema symptoms, so if you’re using a face wash (or even a shampoo) that has a super foamy later, check the ingredients label for sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, and switch to gentler sulfate-free options.
Pay attention to the shampoo you use as well so that you don't have to deal with eczema symptoms on your scalp or around your hairline. Try Cleure's sulfate and fragrance free shampoo.
- Alcohol - Alcohol is known to be extremely drying to the skin which is why it’s often used in spot treatments to dry out breakouts. This drying sensation is the opposite of ideal for sensitive skin. That being said not all alcohol is created equal. Fatty alcohols like cetearyl and cetyl alcohol don’t have the same drying effect as ingredients like alcohol denat ethanol, or ethyl alcohol.
- Oxybenzone - Commonly found as an active ingredient in chemical sunscreens, oxybenzone is not only harmful for sensitive skin but also destroys coral reefs. Sun protection is still incredibly important especially when trying to avoid eczema flare ups, so instead of using a chemical sunscreen, use a mineral sunscreen that utilizes titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as the UV blocking ingredients.
Cleure products never use fragrances, sulfates, acids, harsh preservatives or simple alcohols like alcohol denat and ethanol, and our mineral sunscreen options are free of oxybenzone and use natural minerals to block UV rays.
Protect your sensitive skin from the sun with less risk of an eczema flareup using our Mineral Sunscreen
Good ingredients for eczema
On the other hand, several ingredients can help soothe and relieve the dryness, scaliness, redness, and irritation that are the main symptoms of eczema. Your main goal for dealing with eczema is building the skin barrier and locking in moisture and lots of natural ingredients work wonders in moisture retention.
- Silicone derivatives (such as dimethicone) - Dimethicone (as well as methicone) is one of the most common moisturizing ingredients found in moisturizers and creams, and it's for good reason. It creates the slippery texture that helps the product glide on to the skin smoothly, builds a protective barrier for the skin, and fills the gaps between skin cells for skin that’s overall smooth and hydrated.
Try cleansing with Cleure's gentle lotion Cleanser formulated with dimethicone.
- Glycerin - A viscous liquid typically derived from plant oils like palm oil, glycerin is a powerful humectant which means it has the ability to lock moisture into the outer layer of skin, improving its barrier function. Dry skin conditions like eczema are linked to a weakened skin barrier so rebuilding it to hold moisture in is a step in the right direction to diminish the severity of eczema.
- Hyaluronic acid - Another humectant, hyaluronic acid has a similar moisture locking effect to glycerin. Also look out for sodium hyaluronate which is the water soluble salt form of hyaluronic acid that sinks into the skin better.
Cleure's night cream contains not only sodium hyaluronate, but also glycerin, and shea butter for ultimate eczema-fighting hydration.
- Niacinamide - Also called Vitamin B3, Niacinamide has anti-inflammatory properties which helps soothe flakey, itchy skin. It’s to another skin barrier strengthener and it also helps reduce redness, and target signs of aging. So if your skin concerns spread beyond just your eczema, and you also want to combat signs of aging, niacinamide is a key ingredient.
- Shea Butter - This rich, creamy fat extracted from the nut of the shea tree, is rich in vitamins A and E, and essential fatty acids which all aid in keeping skin smooth and hydrated.
- Oatmeal - According to a 2012 study, colloidal oatmeal can protect skin and soothe the itching and irritation from eczema. You can add oatmeal to your bath or opt for soaps and lotions that are formulated with it.
Cleure’s Glycerin Face and Body Bar has the moisturizing and soothing trio of glycerin, oatmeal, and shea butter making it a powerful tool for fighting symptoms of eczema.
It’s important to note that these ingredients will have better effects in higher concentrations. The FDA requires companies to list ingredients in order of amount used so look for products where these ingredients are one of the first ones listed so you can truly benefit from them.
And remember, just because a product doesn't contain the common irritants, and does contain the beneficial ingredients listed, it is not necessarily safe to use because everyone’s skin reacts to ingredients differently. The National Eczema Association recommends performing a patch test on any new product, and avoiding usage if it results in any negative symptoms.
The habits you have surrounding your skin should also be taken into consideration. Don’t spend too much time in the sun, use lukewarm water in the shower and when washing your face, manage your stress levels, and if your eczema symptoms continue regardless of the products you use, talk to a dermatologist about further treatment. Eczema is tricky to navigate, but like with all skin concerns, using natural, clean ingredients is a vital step towards controlling pesky dry, itchy skin.