Having eczema can make it even more difficult to navigate all of the products at the beauty counter. There are ingredients in skincare products and cosmetics that can aggravate eczema, particularly on the face.
Read this guide to learn not only what ingredients to avoid but also what ingredients can be beneficial for eczema sufferers.
When using a product for the first time, it’s a good idea to patch test on a small area of your skin before applying it generously.
Even hypoallergenic, naturally derived ingredients can potentially trigger an immune response in sensitive individuals.
Labeling laws in the United States and European Union require manufacturers to list the ingredients in their beauty and hygiene products.
If you can’t find an ingredient list on the label or product insert, then check the manufacturer’s website as ingredients are often listed there as well.
AVOID THESE INGREDIENTS:
1) Phthalates – synthetic chemicals man-made to soften plastic, phthalates are used in cosmetics, cleaners and body creams.
Phthalates are strictly regulated in Europe and have been banned in baby products by the European Union but in America there is still little oversight.
Beauty product manufacturers continue to use phthalates as emulsifiers and stabilizers—phthalates are basically utilized as fillers in the beauty industry.
Pthalates have been demonstrated in research to aggravate eczema, possibly because of disruption in immune system function or alternatively, because they are directly inflammatory to the tissue.
2) Parabens – are chemicals used in beauty products, which have been shown to mimic estrogen in the body, activating estrogen receptors.
Studies have found parabens in breast cancer tissue and animal studies have shown disruption in hormone signaling the presence of parabens.
Other names listed on ingredients for parabens are butyl, isobutyl, propyl and isopropyl parabens.
Patients with eczema that is aggravated with hormonal events such as the menstrual cycle, puberty, menopause, pregnancy or the post-partum period should be especially careful to avoid parabens.
3) Methylisothiazolinone And Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MIT)– these preservatives found commonly in beauty products are known to have a neurotoxic effect to animal brain cells.
They are irritants and commonly provoke allergic response in users, including contact dermatitis, a form of eczema.
Manufacturers put MITs in products as preservatives but also because they have anti-microbial properties, inhibiting growth of bacteria and mold.
4) DMDM hydantoin And Bronopol – these preservatives used in cosmetics and body products break down into formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen.
These compounds are antigens that are known to provoke an allergic response in many people.
DMDM hydantoin has been demonstrated to irritate sensitive skin and its predecessor formaldehyde is a neurotoxin, meaning it can damage nerve tissue in the body.
5) Fragrance – this term can refer to the thousands of different synthetic and naturally derived aromatic chemicals that are added to products to give them a characteristic scent.
Fragrances are among the most likely ingredients to cause an allergic response in a person with eczema.
Many artificial fragrances are also hormone disruptors, interfering with the proper signaling of hormones in the body.
1) Cocoa Butter – Emollient and nourishing, cocoa butter is indicated for dry, scaling eczema.
The culinary world is familiar with the use of cocoa butter in chocolate treats and bakery but this vegetable fat extracted from the cocoa bean is also a potent moisturizer and anti-pruritic, decreasing itchiness.
A 2008 publication in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science found the polyphenols in cocoa butter to improve skin elasticity and tone by improving the integrity of glycosaminoglycans and collagens I, III and IV.
2) Honey – Antimicrobial and healing to epithelial tissue, the outermost layer of the skin, honey is nature’s answer to a variety of skin conditions.
It has been shown to benefit diabetic foot ulcers, radiation burns and mucositis (mouth sores).
For eczema, lotions and creams with honey can help prevent secondary infections and promote healing of ulcerated or raw lesions.
Manukaderm is a product of medical grade honey with research backing its efficacy.
3) Cardiospermum Halicacabum – a viney plant native to southeastern United States, Cardiospermum is strongly anti-inflammatory and has been demonstrated as beneficial in eczematous conditions as well as psoriasis and xerosis (dry skin).
Florasone is a 10% Cardiospermum eczema cream that is all-natural and does not contain any artificial fragrances or irritating fillers.
4) Mineral Makeup – cosmetics made from minerals are naturally derived and non-occlusive which allows the skin to breathe and reduces the risk for irritation.
This non-occlusive property, called non-comedogenic by the cosmetics industry, also means that pores are not blocked and the risk for acne breakout is also lessened.
Rejuva Minerals makes purified mineral cosmetics that are screened for trace heavy metals and other contaminants.
Bare Minerals, a popular mineral makeup line, has some products that contain aluminum powder, artificial fragrances and retinyl palmitate; ingredients that have known health risks.
Avoid these ingredients when purchasing mineral makeup.
5) Oats And Oatmeal – the seeds of Avena Sativa, commonly referred by breakfast eaters everywhere as oatmeal, are used topically to soothe inflammation and decrease pruritis (itchiness).
Oatmeal can be applied to the skin in a variety of forms – as oatmeal baths, poultices and compresses.
It is also added to commercially available lotions and creams.
For an oatmeal bath add one tablespoon of oats for every gallon of water.
Trader Joe’s makes great oatmeal and honey soaps safe for eczema sufferers.
Coastal Classic Creations has an oatmeal facial cleanser and mask that can help soothe facial eczema.
1. The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit organization with a website dedicated to giving consumers information about the health risks of beauty and hygiene products.
The website is called Skin Deep. You can search for brand, ingredient, or individual product information.
2. Eczema Free is an ebook with natural, simple steps to help eliminate eczema.
It’s an easy read and based on methods that work quickly and safely to reduce the severity and incidence of eczema.