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It's the conundrum of every eczema sufferer: How do you find products that are gentle on your skin while also addressing other skin issues, particularly when it comes to anti-aging concerns? For those with mild to severe eczema, sometimes it feels like we're left on the sidelines, watching sadly while everyone else gets to use retinol, toner and hardcore serums while we baby our skin and worry over flare ups. Isn't life unfair?
Fortunately, there are ways to treat eczema while also addressing our various skin issues, whether it's wrinkle control, acne, or rosacea. The key is avoiding ingredients that are known irritants and choosing products that are rich in essential vitamins to cure the deficiency that's causing dry, flake-y skin. Below, a skin care regimen that will have you on your way to "normal" skin again.
This is advice you have probably heard before, but well-known gentle cleansers recommended by dermatologists, like CeraVe or Cetaphil, have known irritants that are terrible for eczema, like parabens. Instead, try looking for a non-exfoliating cleanser that's rich in natural ingredients that aren't too harsh, like I Pekar Facial Cleanser ($65 in the shop). The gentle cleanser has raw natural honey and willow and aspen bark, which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. The cleanser leaves skin feeling protected and moisturized instead of that dry, tight feeling every eczema sufferer dreads. Marta swears by it, calling it "one of the best, if not the best cleansers I have used." But if you're looking for a cheaper alternative, simply look for products devoid of harsh sulfates ("sudsy" cleansers are a thing of the past), parabens, acids (glycolic acid, salicylic acid), fragrances, propylene glycol and phthalates.
Most advice to people suffering from eczema is to avoid harsh toners and serums. But instead of skipping straight to step three, we want to tell you that, yes, it's OK to use serums, as long as they're gentle. Trinite Organiques Forgiving Serum ($40 in the shop) is an anti-aging serum with vitamins and essential oils, like Jojoba, Argan and Evening Primrose, that fight against fine lines and wrinkles while leaving skin hydrated. Your Best Face Hydrate B Concentrate ($45 in the shop) is another tough but soothing serum with vitamin B3/niacinamide, a vitamin that's essential to healthy skin and can cause eczema if deficient in it. A lot of soothing/calming serums are gentle enough to use if followed by a strong moisturizer. However, if a "gentle" serum irritates your skin, you should discontinue use right away. Everyone's skin reacts to products differently, so be careful when searching for your perfect serum.
This is the most important step of your regimen. Moisturizer provides a protective barrier to the skin, locking moisture in and keeping it hydrated so that it's less likely to flake. The Exederm line is much-loved by TIA. Awarded the Seal of Acceptance by the National Eczema Association, I think it's safe to say they know a little about products for eczema. Their Intensive Moisturizing Cream ($14.99) can be used as a facial moisturizer or even a whole-body moisturizer, and their Flare Control Cream ($14.99) is a good way to tame mild flare-ups without resulting to topical steroids.
Here's another tricky step. Sunscreen is a vital step in any anti-aging regimen, and people with eczema are often expected to skip it to avoid flare-ups that are caused by the irritants in chemical sunscreens. But you don't have to choose between the two. Instead, look for a sunscreen without harsh ingredients, like oxybenzone, in favor for sunscreens with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Some might say all chemical sunscreens should be avoided, but Amarte Ultra Veil Sunscreen ($45 in the shop) is one that's surprisingly gentle and goes well with makeup. However, if you want to play it safe, Suntegrity 5-in-1 Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen ($45 in the shop) is the way to go. The non-chemical sunscreen works a bit like a BB Cream but has antioxidants and essential oils to keep skin supple and protected with a hint of coverage. TIA reviewer Nina, who has eczema, also swears by Amarte Natural Finish BB Cream ($57 in the shop), a hydrating BB cream with SPF 34 that covers all imperfections without irritating the skin.
Although what you put on your body is important, what's just as important is what you put in it. While some eczema reactions have been linked to food allergies (gluten and dairy being the main culprits), one factor about eczema that has been proven in studies is that most eczema sufferers have been linked to a deficiency in essential fatty acids. A good way to replenish this deficiency is to eat a diet rich in minimally processed fruits and vegetables. A good way to replenish your diet with fatty acids is to consume Hemp seed oil, which can be drizzled on salads or smoothies for a healthier diet. It might sound stupidly simple, but a healthier diet could be the first step to a flare-up free existence.