Eczema-Prone Skin Can Still Wear Makeup - Here's How

Eczema is irritating, literally and figuratively! The red, itchy patches that are trademarks of the skin condition are nothing less than frustrating and often painful when flares become particularly intense. MedlinePlus says eczema is a form of skin swelling that's medically referred to as acute dermatitis, or merely dermatitis for short; breakouts are based on factors in which skin experiences inflammation as a reactive response from the body. This facilitates a domino effect by causing the skin's moisture barrier to lose hydration, leading to skin becoming dry and dehydrated, producing sections of irritated skin — which compounds in a cycle back to inflammation-inducing skin dehydration.


A lot of advice surrounding eczema and skincare products — including makeup and cosmetics — revolves around instructions to minimize product use or even forego makeup altogether. And while it's certainly vital to give your skin time off whether or not your skin is eczema-prone, it's also enjoyable to embrace makeup when your skin isn't on a product break. The caveat is that those who experience eczema need to be more mindful of product selection and frequency of use. Wearing ornate makeup and participating in the latest trends might feel impossible when you have eczema, but it isn't just a pipe dream — with some extra precautions, you can use makeup on your eczema-prone skin without worrying about more flare-ups.


Reduce skin inflammation with cool compresses and baths

The American Academy of Dermatology Association reveals that eczema-correlated inflammation results in uncomfortable itching, irritation, and dry, red skin patches — meaning that taking measures to manage inflammation is important for ensuring your makeup routine doesn't further exacerbate your skin. If you know you'll be wearing makeup for extended amounts of time — perhaps for all-day commitments — then beginning your day by soaking in a colloidal oatmeal bath can both help you relax before your long day ahead and reduce the symptoms of eczema before your makeup application. Simultaneously, holding a cold pack or cool compress on your face can further reduce inflammation as you soak in a soothing colloidal oatmeal bath. 


Prior to applying any cosmetics or makeup products, you can also dampen the severity of inflammation by holding a cool compress to your skin even if you don't have time for an oatmeal soak. Ice rollers are fantastic tools to have on hand and can provide significant relief, especially when they're fresh from the freezer (via KHSVID). Additionally, taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications or applying topical anti-inflammatory gels, creams, or ointments can counteract itching or painful dry skin so you can wear your makeup worry-free.

Creating a barrier on your face can prevent irritation

Even if you calm your skin before opening your makeup bag, wearing makeup alone may exacerbate the effects of eczema — so your first shield of defense should essentially be a force field or barrier that you build on your face prior to applying any cosmetic or beauty products. You can apply an eczema force field on your skin with a coat of petroleum jelly — including the brand name Vaseline — or products with silicone such as makeup primers, foundations, and other cosmetics with silicone-based solutions. This barrier of Vaseline or silicone product protects your skin from absorbing the makeup products you apply on your face after the barrier product.


Another way products like Vaseline come in handy with eczema-prone skin is through the process of slugging, which is when you use petroleum jelly as an overnight face mask for restoring moisture and rejuvenating skin — which can even lessen the appearance of eczema flares, reports The Washington Post. But slugging doesn't have to be restricted to right before going to bed. You can build your petroleum jelly shield prior to putting on makeup in the mornings or at any time of day. In addition to providing a barrier between your skin and your makeup, the Vaseline (or similar product) serves as a moisture-protecting solution to combat the dryness that can induce a flare-up.

Focus on helping skin thrive with hydration and moisture

When you have a skin condition that's easily exacerbated by moisture-stripping elements like weather and temperature changes, exposure to vapor-absorbing recycled air (like on planes), and seemingly endless other triggers, it can feel like retaining your skin's moisture barrier is an uphill battle. But one of the best ways to ensure you can wear makeup with eczema-prone skin is to cultivate a daily moisturizing routine, using products that contain moisture-rich ingredients. WebMD reveals there are certain products that can help skin regain hydration and initiate the process of natural moisture repair — look for ingredients such as glycerin hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and lanolin. Routine use of lotions containing vitamin E, aloe, oat elements, and niacinamide can also repair eczema-induced skin damage and protect your skin's moisture barrier, per the National Eczema Association.


Conversely, the moisture barrier serving as your skin's organic protective factor is often vulnerably exposed when eczema flares occur, since dry, flaking skin can lead to cellular damage and skin breakage. With this in mind, there are also common skincare and makeup ingredients anyone with eczema-prone skin should absolutely avoid — so check the product packaging before you grab the latest SkinTok-recommended must-have. WebMD notes that products containing salicylic and glycolic acids are practically guaranteed to further damage irritated skin, as both elements are exfoliants; retinol and retinoids are additional ingredients to stay far away from if you experience eczema.

Be proactive by applying sunscreen daily

Besides merely trying to avoid incurring more inflammation and trying to mitigate eczema-related symptoms by making thoughtful product choices, having a proactive mindset can provide you with skin conditions more favorable for applying makeup. However, this means adhering to consistent, thorough care routines — even if you only want to wear makeup occasionally, caring for your skin so that you can use cosmetics without exacerbating your eczema is a daily affair.


Given that eczema already produces damaged skin due to dehydration of the skin's moisture barrier and regular inflammatory responses from your body's immune system, it's imperative that you try to prevent further damage from occurring, especially if simple, daily actions can keep that damage at bay. Everyday Health underscores that a critical component of protecting skin from worsened eczema-related experiences is applying sunscreen or skincare products with stated SPF values throughout each day — ideally, SPF 30 or greater applied every few hours. Neglecting sun protection in your skincare routine places the overall health of your skin at risk, especially when eczema is present or your skin is susceptible to flares.


In addition, daily lifestyle actions like drinking at least 64 ounces of water per day and eating foods with high water content can also help maintain moisture levels, minimize eczema flares, and provide you with healthy conditions for applying makeup. 

Minimize skin-irritation friction by using fingertips to apply makeup

Of course, there's more to wearing makeup than taking care of your skin, choosing hypoallergenic, clean products, and prepping your canvas with a primer or petroleum jelly barrier. As you begin applying beauty products, a key tip is to eliminate abrasive tools and friction-causing items like beauty blenders, makeup brushes, and eyeshadow applicators from your process. While beauty tools can ease cosmetic application, the scratchy bristles of makeup brushes and frequent dragging from beauty blenders — even the subtle sensations from sticky, foam-based blenders — can irritate existing eczema and heighten the potential for new flares. 


Instead, you'll want to put makeup on using your freshly cleaned fingertips, ensuring proper washing with antibacterial soap prior to touching your face. Applying, adjusting, and smoothing products with your fingers rather than makeup tools is a process known as finger blending, and it's effective in reducing friction on already sensitive, eczema-prone skin, reports KHSVID. You can control the pressure and amount of rubbing on areas of skin with current eczema flares and areas that could develop flares due to harsh friction, so refine your technique to a gentle, light blending of makeup where you're particularly sensitive. 

Take powders, perfumes, and scented solutions out of your routine

You're ready to don your glamorous new look, but when it comes to straightforward makeup elements, there are some genres you'll want to eliminate from your regimen altogether — even if they include eczema-friendly ingredients, reveals Healthline. Foremost, send fragrances directly out the door. Any type of fragrant product — including body sprays, perfumes, and scented lotions, moisturizers, and essential oils — can lead to a flare-up and raise the risk of sun damage, as particular perfumes don't pair well with sunlight. Rather than risk triggering painful eczema-related side effects and skin damage, remove any cosmetics containing fragrances or aromatic aspects from your collection.


Another beauty product genre you should promptly ditch from your eczema-approved cosmetics is any makeup made with a powder base: face and setting powders, compacted eyeshadow, blush, highlighter, contour, and more powdered items. Particularly if you have severe symptoms of eczema, powder-based products can further dry skin and lead to inflammation as soon as your skin absorbs these moisture-sucking products, reports Pierre Fabre Eczema Foundation. Don't undo all your hard work toward staying hydrated and moisturized — find a different formulation for your makeup and give the powders a miss.

Apply premium products with minimalist solutions

As you carefully assess the items currently in your stash of makeup, beauty, and skincare products, take on the role of a stylist or curator: Look for the simplest way to get the best results for your skin. If eczema flares are probable, streamline your products and respective regimens through skin streaming, consulting with your healthcare provider or dermatologist, and making conscious choices about which items you feel comfortable layering on top of sensitive skin. by L'Oreal advises minimizing the number of products in your routines for skincare and beauty artistry, as well as opting for products with short, succinct lists of ingredients that are easy to understand and align with your needs.


Join the skinimalism movement for means of protecting your skin and guaranteeing that you know exactly what you're painting onto your face. Women's Health describes the cultural shift towards skinimalism as a revolutionary revitalization of skincare and beauty approaches — rather than using the average of double-digit product counts per regimen, skinimalism skews toward lowering the number of products used to no more than what can be counted on a single hand, thus aligning with expert-given advice for makeup execution on eczema-prone skin. When in doubt, favor minimalism-inspired makeup.

Give both your skin and yourself a break

Even if you don't have eczema, skincare advice often emphasizes the need to give sensitive skin regular breaks between makeup applications, reports Yahoo. If you wear makeup on a daily basis on top of eczema-prone skin, you'll likely experience increasingly intense flares. This can initiate a vicious cycle of applying more makeup to conceal eczema irritation, further intensifying inflammation and leading to the need for more makeup, and so on. Instead, give your eczema-prone skin adequate time off from cosmetics, even if your bathroom counter is filled with hypoallergenic, non-irritating beauty products. And even while you're on a break from beauty products, continue to monitor the condition of your skin, paying particular attention to areas known to be affected by eczema.


Given that your break is supposed to focus on skin relaxation and recovery from eczema symptoms, emphasize activities and pursuits that don't risk exposure to skin-absorbing irritants. As your skin becomes renewed during breaks between makeup use, remember to gift yourself time to relax, rejuvenate, and refresh. Enjoy hobbies and activities that bring you joy (and ideally don't trigger your skin with sweat or sun exposure). It can also be useful to journal — not only to track how your skin handles your routines but also to acknowledge the qualities you admire about yourself and the strengths you possess, which can help you boost your confidence and comfort.

Don't forget about nails and nail eczema

Should your craving for cosmetics linger as you temporarily set aside your makeup bag, channel your creative focus on your nails during at-home main-pedi sessions — of course, utilizing polish made from clean ingredients to reduce reactions that can lead to eczema flares. On that note, it's best to avoid gel, acrylic, shellac, and dipped designs, as the chemicals in their respective recipes can provoke eczema's emergence around nail beds, per the National Eczema Association. Salon services for nail treatments frequently involve lotions, scrubs, and oils with added fragrances and other irritating ingredients, so if your skin is especially eczema-prone and sensitive to irritants, then it's best to stick with DIY designs during artistic at-home mani-pedi treatments. 


Eczema generally affects skin while leaving hair, nails, and other bodily elements unaffected, but some people do experience forms of dermatitis that can impact the skin around and beneath the nails. If you notice signs of nail eczema, give your nails an extended break from polish and embellishments, then effectively focus on utilizing moisturizing lotions labeled specifically for use on dry skin. Be mindful of excessive hand washing, which can lead to dry skin, creating a ripe environment for eczema to thrive. If you notice any signs of adverse reaction, cease your use of all potential irritants, just as you would for makeup on your face.