Makeup and Eczema: Do They Mix?

Makeup and Eczema

Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that affects 10-20% of the population.  Thanks to a damaged skin barrier, those with eczema have extra sensitive skin that can negatively respond to generally harmless substances such as soaps, pollen, pet fur — and make-up. 

In this post, we’ll explore whether makeup and eczema mix, as well as some tips for wearing makeup on irritated, itchy skin.

Please keep in mind that although these tips and information have worked for several sufferers, we are in no way medical professionals. If you’re experiencing severe symptoms or have a topical infection, it is always best to seek medical advice immediately.

Can Makeup Cause Eczema?

Makeup itself cannot “cause” eczema, but it can certainly contribute to irritating your skin.  While it may be tempting to conceal eczema flare-ups with makeup, there are many beauty products that can actually further irritate your skin due to the harsh chemicals and toxins they contain. Some products can even cause a burning or stinging sensation because of their harmful ingredients.

ILW Recommends: What Triggers Eczema?

On the other hand, there are some makeup products that are gentle on the skin and actually helpful for eczema on your face and neck.  The tricky part is knowing the difference. 

What to Avoid in Makeup

Fragrances: Unfortunately, fragrances are almost always artificial (unless they are essential oils), making them common eczema irritants.  To avoid unnecessary eczema flare-ups, look for products that say “fragrance free” or “made for sensitive skin.”  All-natural or organic products that are free from perfumes are best. Also, be sure to carefully read product labels.  

Glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and retinol: These ingredients have a tendency to further dry out skin which is the last thing those with eczema want. Due to a damaged skin barrier that has trouble retaining moisture, those with eczema already have chronically dry skin.  This weak skin barrier also makes the skin more sensitive to irritants and allergens. 

Preservatives: While preservatives such as methylparaben or butylparaben can help keep makeup from growing bacteria, they also cause inflammation.   Natural preservatives such as grapefruit seed extract, is a better alternative.  

For additional synthetic ingredients to avoid in all beauty products, make sure to check out our blog post: Don’t Trust These 13 Skincare Ingredients with Eczema

Ingredients to Look For in Makeup

Hyaluronic acid: In contrast to the drying ingredients listed above, hyaluronic acid has the opposite effect.  It helps draw moisture from the air to your skin, giving your skin an extra boost of much needed hydration.  

Shea butter, glycerin, and lanolin: If you want a glowing, healthy glow, look for these moisturizing ingredients. Shea butter, in particular, is great for repairing your skin and giving it a natural shine. 

Niacinamide: Eczema flare-ups can cause patches of red, irritated skin that no amount of makeup can cover up.  That’s where niacinamide comes in useful. Also called vitamin B3, it helps reduce redness by strengthening your skin’s natural barrier.  Apply niacinamide cream before putting on makeup. 

Eczema and Makeup Tips

  • Always wash your makeup brushes! Otherwise, they become a breeding ground for bacteria.  A build-up of old makeup within bristles can also clog your pores and cause irritation.
  • Use your fingers instead!  In continuation of the previous tip, using your fingers as opposed to a brush might be a better alternative, especially if you can’t commit to regularly washing your brushes. Just make sure to thoroughly wash your hands before.
  • Use a gentle makeup remover to wash your face every night. This is important for removing any oil and dirt.  Look for a facial cleaner that is free from fragrances, preservatives, soaps, and formaldehyde. Hint: We’ve heard this Calendula Facial Cream is great at removing makeup while keeping skin moisturized and nourished.

Share your best makeup and eczema tips in the comments!


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