It’s never easy when a flare-up occurs – you think your skin is behaving itself and then you wake up to a face that’s flushed, irritated and itchy. In these circumstances, it might be tempting to turn to your make-up products to disguise the problem, however, this definitely isn’t a long-term solution if you want to soothe your flare-up and it could potentially make it worse. That’s why today I’m here to give my top tips on how you can get the better of your eczema and prevent a flare-up!
1 – Don’t stress
Okay, so if you’re suffering from a flare-up, you’re not exactly going to be feeling the best, especially if you have a social event on the horizon or work commitments that might involve a little public speaking. However, working yourself into a panic over your flare-up isn’t going to help the problem – in fact it might just make it worse!
As I mentioned yesterday when discussing the effects of poor sleep, stress can trigger the release of inflammatory chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline, which will not only irritate your skin but could also potentially make it drier!
So, take a deep breath and try to keep things in perspective. Your flare-up, while an irritating problem, is really not worth the toll that a stress reaction will exact.
2 – Dead Sea salt
When it comes to dry, eczema-prone skin I wouldn’t usually recommend a bath as hot water can be a major irritant. However, a lukewarm bath with Dead Sea salts may have some benefits. One study found that minerals in Dead Sea salt were able to improve skin barrier function and reduce inflammation in atopic dry skin.
Just take care to avoid conventional bubble baths solutions or essential oils – these ingredients, while adding a pleasant fragrance, won’t do your flare-up any favours and may end up aggravating your skin. Always remember to moisture after you’ve enjoyed your soak!
3 – Wash everything!
Smartphones are everywhere and we treat them as lifelines, feeling uneasy whenever they’re out of reach for too long. Unfortunately, this attitude has its drawbacks, with some estimating that your mobile is up to 10 times dirtier than your toilet seat – yuck!
All of these germs are then transferred to your fingertips whenever you text or scroll and thereafter to your face. I’m sure you can imagine the results of this encounter – all of those nasty bugs and bacteria now inhabit your skin, weakening your epidermis and encouraging an inflammatory response from your immune system.
However, it isn’t just your smartphone or tablet that you should be worried about – your make-up bag could also be hiding a few nasty secrets too! It’s absolutely critical that you clean your make-up brushes and sponges regularly to avoid the spread of germs. Most stores will offer wipes exclusively for this purpose – make good use of them!
4- Including your bed linen!
The picture doesn’t get much prettier when you consider your bed linen and pillowcases. Hopefully, you’re already changing your bedding regularly and if you are, you’re probably already aware of how your sheets and duvets can turn into a breeding ground for bacteria. When you sleep at night, you sweat and shed skin cells which then get absorbed by your bed linen and pillowcases, like a sponge soaking up water.
Over time the dead skin cells can build up, especially on your pillowcases! It’s thought that unclean pillowcases are a leading cause of blackheads and flare-ups. Experts recommend changing your pillowcases every 2-3 days to prevent this accumulation of sweat, oil and dead skin cells from affecting your skin whereas your bed linen should be washed every couple of weeks!
5 – Wear your hair up while you sleep
Okay, let’s put your skin aside for a moment and have a chat about your hair. Most of you probably don’t leave the house with your hair as it was when you rolled out of bed that morning.
What you do with your hair in the morning will depend on your own preference – perhaps you tie it up and set it with some hairspray to get rid of those flyaway strands; maybe you spray with gel and let it curl; or you might even apply some oil to prevent it from drying out as you straighten it.
Regardless, a lot of product goes on your hair and, unlike your make-up, unless you have a shower before bedtime, it’s not getting washed off. When you go to bed and sleep with your hair sprawled all over you pillow, all of those products are getting transferred to your skin.
This is not ideal for a number of reasons; what’s designed to go on your hair, isn’t always recommended for your skin. Not to mention the chemicals in products such as hairspray, mousse and gel can be quite harsh and abrasive, clogging your pores and potentially triggering an inflammatory reaction.
6 – Know your expiration dates
Did you know that your make-up and skincare products have an expiration date? Some suppliers, like LUSH are kind enough to provide them for you on the packaging but many aren’t so generous which means that many of us seem to take it for granted that our moisturiser will last forever.
However, this isn’t exactly true. You may have overlooked it but the PAO (Period After Opening) symbol indicates whens you should be throwing your product out, as you can see below.
If you can’t find this symbol, it might be worth taking a look at the ingredients in your products as some will definitely go out of date sooner than others. Products that are water-based, such as Micellar water or toners are the ones to watch out for – water can encourage the growth of bacteria so I would normally give them around 6 months before showing them the bin.
The same rule applies to foundations, although these products normally have more preservatives in them so they usually last for up to a year, however, if they are oil based, they can sometimes last longer. Mascaras and liquid eyeliners in particular are ones to watch out for as they can easily become contaminated with bacteria and should definitely not be used for longer than 6 months!