Q. My teenage daughter has eczema (atopic dermatitis) that now seems under control. She’s asking about wearing makeup. What do you think would be safe for her to try?
Dr. Skotnicki: I always like the analogy of atopic eczema and asthma. If you have asthma, you don’t smoke since the smoke may cause a flare-up of your asthma. You’re not “allergic” to the smoke, the issue is that it will irritate your airways.
The same is true for atopic eczema.
If you have atopic eczema and you use the wrong products, they will cause your eczema to flare because they act as irritants. With atopic eczema, it is common for people like your daughter to find their skin irritate by the ingredients of makeup and toiletries.
Fragrance is the biggest offender, and this includes natural or botanical scents. Other ingredients that give makeup shimmer or shine, such as mica, as well as sunscreen are irritants. Your daughter would be smart to avoid makeup with shine or shimmer.
Be mindful as well that any product that has water in it will need to be preserved. Some of the preservatives are irritants as well as allergens.
Mineral-based makeup are often safer choices – because they have no water, and therefore are not preserved, and they usually have no fragrance added. But I still would avoid mineral makeups with shimmer.
It is best to add one new makeup product per week, as it can take four to seven days for an irritant flare of eczema. Fragrance – and botanical-free makeups (e.g. Clinique) are good bets as are some mineral-based brands.
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