As the new year approaches, so does the annual annoyance of dry skin flare-ups in the cold weather. If you’re like me and also suffer from eczema, the winter months can be a trying time for keeping your skin hydrated and itch-free. Of course, if you do suffer from chronic skin conditions like eczema, the first and best thing to do is to seek medical advice from your doctor. Whilst I’ve found prescribed medicinal creams great for helping control flare-ups, they’re not necessarily the most sustainable solution for everyday skincare; there are plenty of natural, plant-based and at-home remedies that, once you find the right thing for your skin, can help relieve everyday dry skin just as well.
Battling with skincare is something that almost every person goes through at some point in their life. I remember how insecure I felt when I faced my first major eczema outbreak on my face when I was 17. If I could go back in time and say anything to my adolescent self now, it would be to embrace it. Embrace it’s normalness – because skin conditions are normal. Everyone’s skin is different; one person’s skincare will be very different from the next. The best advice I can give you is to explore what works for your skin, but don’t let it define you. You are more than your skin type!
For those of you who do suffer from dryness and/or eczema, I know from personal experience that it can be a major daily inconvenience and annoyance, so here are some tips and tricks that I’ve picked up over the years that have helped keep my skin moisturised and less irritable.
1. Aloe Vera
This is the number one tip I would give to anyone suffering from eczema or dry skin. For me, aloe vera cream has been an absolute lifesaver. Natural, cooling, and non-greasy, moisturising my face and body with 100% natural aloe vera cream daily keeps my skin hydrated and reduces flakiness. The plant-based ingredient has wound-healing properties, which is great for eczema (which works by attacking your skin’s protective layers, making it more susceptible to irritation). Free from manufactured chemicals and scents, aloe vera’s natural properties mean it has little chance of inflaming sensitive skin. The best part is that aloe vera creams are often easily available in most drug stores, and can be bought for under £10 on Amazon:
If you’re allergic to aloe vera, a great alternative I have found is the ‘Elave Sensitive Intensive Cream.’ Dermatologically tested to protect the skin’s natural barrier, it is a great non-medicated option for daily use on dry or eczema-ridden skin:
2. Water is your friend
This goes without saying, but countless studies have linked healthy and clear skin with heavy water intake. I found that after increasing my daily water consumption, my skin had less flare-ups than normal. But it isn’t just about drinking water – simply washing your face with water has also proven really helpful for my skin. Dryness and eczema are symptoms of sensitive skin, so washing your face with scrubs, face washes or soaps are a big no. Even when face washes are purposed for sensitive skin users, I found that my skin reacted least when just cleansing it with warm water. If you need to exfoliate, try to avoid using sugar or salt scrubs and just use a plain exfoliating glove with hot water.
3. Avoid scented products at all costs
The absolute worst thing for irritable or sensitive skin is to apply a scented product to it. When buying moisturisers, lotions, body washes or any other form of self-care skin products, make sure you look at the ingredients and avoid purchasing ones that are heavily scented. Lookout instead for packaging that says ‘scent-free’, ‘dermatologically approved’ or ‘non-artificial’. In my experience, the best brands for these are Cerave, Cetaphil, Nivea, Elave and E45.
4. Want to wear makeup? Stick to a pre and post-application routine
In my experience, unless you are having an extreme flare-up of red, itchy or flaky skin, wearing makeup is still manageable on dry skin if you follow the right pre and post-application routines for you. It is helpful, though, to make sure you give your skin enough time to breathe without makeup on. If you find that your skin becomes itchy after a few hours with makeup on, try taking a few days off in order to give your skin a chance to rejuvenate and reproduce its natural oils.
In terms of makeup application advice, products like foundation will often stick and catch to dry skin, leaving makeup looking patchy. The best way to fight this is to make sure your face is deeply moisturised before starting your makeup. I like to use aloe vera cream, followed by The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 serum. It sounds complicated, but the serum is actually a really cheap and effective oil for the deep hydration of the skin. It is important that you play around with base makeups to find which one works for you; sometimes even BB creams can prove the most effective base product for people with dry skin. But as long as you prep your skin thoroughly, most foundations shouldn’t irritate you.
Lastly and perhaps the most important, try and establish a gentle makeup up removal routine. This means using non-scented, dermatologically approved products that will place less pressure on the skin. I find that using micellar water on soft cotton pads, rather than make up wipes, is a far less harsh method of makeup removal. Make sure to get into a routine of washing your face and moisturising each time you take off your makeup – hydrated skin = happy skin!