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Foundation for Eczema: Members Share What Makeup They Use

Medically reviewed by Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D.
Written by Sarah Winfrey
Posted on May 11, 2023

Looking for the perfect foundation to help cover eczema flare-ups can be a daunting task. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Skin conditions like eczema and atopic dermatitis can make your face look dry and flaky. If you want to cover eczema symptoms with makeup, you may find that the products you use only make your skin worse!

Many members of MyEczemaTeam have shared their frustrations, as well as tips, with other members. Here’s what they say has worked for them — and might work for you, too.

Eczema on the Face: Symptoms and Triggers

Eczema is a condition in which the protective barrier of the skin is damaged or weakened. As a result, this barrier does not work the way it should, so you end up with dry skin, flakes, thickened skin, and itchiness. The appearance of eczema may vary based on skin tone. It can look red on people with pale skin and may appear purple or brown on people with darker skin.

Eczema can occur all over the body, including on the face. No matter where it shows up, it’s important to identify what triggers eczema for you. That way, you can avoid things that make it worse or cause flare-ups. People with atopic dermatitis have more sensitive skin and some find that makeup, including foundation, makes their eczema worse.

One MyPsoriasisTeam member asked about foundation online. She said, “I did see some makeup information, but I’m wondering if there’s any other links to makeup for women, like foundation, because there are a lot of chemicals in makeup.”

Is It Risky To Wear Foundation With Eczema?

The biggest risk that comes with wearing foundation on skin with eczema is that it will make eczema worse and irritate the skin. Foundation could cause increased irritation and lead to more drastic color changes in the skin. It could also make you more uncomfortable and itchy, or even trigger an outbreak on skin that’s otherwise clear.

Applying Foundation With Eczema

Because each person’s skin is unique, there are no hard-and-fast rules for applying foundation to skin with eczema. However, if you are treating your skin with prescription ointment or cream, you should apply that first, then put your foundation on top. If you’re concerned about the appearance of your face and you know your foundation is safe, you can put it on a bit thicker, as long as you put it on after anything medicated.

If you want to make your foundation last, one of our members recommends applying it with a tool designed for the job. She says, “Don’t let the price of the ‘IT’ cosmetics scare you. It goes a long way if you use a facial sponge or brush to apply.” Be sure to clean your foundation applicator regularly to help keep your skin its healthiest.

How To Select a Foundation for Skin With Eczema

When choosing a foundation, it may take trial and error, just like when figuring out what other eczema triggers might be. If you try a foundation for a while and it causes worse rashes or flares, that one won’t work for you even if it works for other people. You may want to look up the ingredients found in products that irritate your skin to see if you can find any in common. That way, you’ll know what to avoid in the future.

Talk to your doctor or dermatologist when you have eczema-related questions. They may be able to recommend a foundation or provide you with advice on how to manage eczema and its symptoms on your skin. They can assess your individual skin type and eczema symptoms to provide tailored guidance on how to best care for your skin and prevent further irritation.

Look for products that display the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance. Although these products are not guaranteed safe for your skin, they are certified as free from certain ingredients that are known to irritate the skin and trigger eczema and other skin conditions in some people. They should also be hypoallergenic, which means they’re less likely to cause allergic reactions. Products labeled as being for sensitive skin or nondrying are designed for people with eczema. The list is a good place to start, as products with the seal will be more likely to be safe for you.

Many people like to use a foundation that includes sun protection with an SPF (sun protection factor). These makeup products act as color-correcting sunscreen. If you choose one of these, once again, make sure the ingredients don’t irritate you. Make sure to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that offers protection against both ultraviolet A and B rays (UVA and UVB). Look for a sunscreen that contains mineral ingredients like titanium oxide for added protection.

Popular Foundations for Eczema

Some MyEczemaTeam members have recommended foundation products that work for them. These foundations usually come in different forms, like sheer, matte, or formulated for your skin type. Many of these companies offer other makeup products too, like concealer, bronzer, cleanser, eyeshadow, and eyeliner.

One member wrote, “I use Mac. It’s more expensive than your everyday foundation, but I’ve never had any problems and have been using it for a few years!” Another member added, “I use Yves Saint Laurent. It’s the only one I’ve found to date that doesn’t irritate my skin.”

Another reported, “I’m using Dior Star. It’s expensive, but so worth it. It doesn’t dry my skin out, doesn’t cling to any excess skin, and covers any patchiness.”

The cost of the products that members recommend is a frequent theme. Many MyEczemaTeam members believe that more expensive facial products might work better for skin with eczema because they have better ingredients. As one member says, “I use the expensive brands, not the cheap brands at Walmart. The cheaper makeup makes me break out, especially on my lips.” However, some more expensive brands may contain ingredients that can irritate the skin.

No one product is guaranteed to work for every person with eczema, but it may be worth considering upscale brands when selecting a foundation. If you want to try a more expensive foundation before buying, consider visiting a cosmetics store that offers testers. You can apply one or more products, keep track of what you applied where, and watch how your skin reacts over the next few hours.

Ingredients To Look For

There are a few ingredients you may want to look for when you’re trying to find a foundation for eczema-prone skin. You may not be able to find one product with all of these ingredients, but they’re all known to help with eczema. These ingredients are more important than the cost:

  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Ubiquinone (coenzyme Q10)
  • Glycerin and other moisturizing ingredients

Hyaluronic Acid

This acid may improve the barrier between your skin and the rest of the world. It’s included in a variety of skin care products, including some foundations. It can also keep your skin hydrated.

Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10)

This substance interferes with the inflammatory response in the body that may cause eczema. It seems to reduce inflammation in the body. Coenzyme Q10 has begun to be included in many foundation products. It also has antioxidant properties, which can help protect against skin damage.

Glycerin and Other Moisturizing Ingredients

There are many products you can use to moisturize skin with eczema. These include glycerin, vitamin E, niacinamide, shea butter, and more. Once again, it may take some experimentation to figure out which ones work best for you and which products, if any, trigger your eczema.

Ingredients To Avoid

There are even more ingredients to avoid because they’re known to trigger reactions in some people with eczema. You can find a more complete list provided by the National Eczema Association. Here are a few of the most common ingredients to avoid:

  • Perfume or fragrance
  • Propylene glycol
  • Lanolin
  • Retinoids
  • Essential oils
  • Urea
  • Preservatives

Perfume or Fragrance

Scents top the list of ingredients to avoid because they can cause skin sensitivity. Most foundations are fragrance-free, but some do contain fragrance, and you should avoid those products.

Propylene Glycol

This emulsifier keeps your foundation creamy. An emulsifier is a substance used in skin care products to mix two substances, such as oil and water, that don’t easily mix together. Propylene glycol is also a major irritant for some people.

Lanolin

Lanolin, which comes from sheep wool, can be a good moisturizer. However, individuals with eczema should be aware that it can also cause allergic reactions. Lanolin sensitivity can occur because the oil contains sterols and alcohols, which may cause an allergic reaction in some people.

Retinoids

Retinoids are substances related to vitamin A. These are not often recommended for sensitive skin, but because they help with acne and fine lines, many people with eczema will try them at some point. Retinoids can cause irritation and eczema flares, so using a little bit with moisturizer on top is helpful.

Essential Oils

Natural oils are often used as a natural way to add fragrance to something. While many of them have documented beneficial properties, essential oils can also cause irritation. Unless you know for sure that an oil is pure and that you do not react to it, avoid foundations with essential oils as ingredients.

Urea

Urea is found naturally in the body and also in some foods and plants. Although it is often included as a moisturizer, urea can damage the layers of the skin most affected by eczema. Urea helps exfoliate the top layers of the skin, so it can be helpful when the skin is very thick and dry. Unless you are using a special formulation from a health care provider, you can find other moisturizers that your skin may be less likely to react to.

Preservatives

Preservatives extend the shelf life of your foundation and keep it from going bad, but they can also irritate your skin. Some preservatives may cause allergic reactions, skin sensitivity, and other adverse reactions.

Foundations that are formulated to be gentle on sensitive skin may be a good choice for individuals with eczema. It is important to choose foundations that are specifically formulated for sensitive skin and do not contain fragrances, preservatives, and harsh chemicals. It’s also a good idea to patch test any new products before putting them on your face to ensure that they do not cause any problems.

The Bottom Line

Foundation can be helpful for people with eczema to even out their skin tone, but remember that it’s not a requirement. Everyone’s skin is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s perfectly fine to choose not to wear foundation, especially if wearing makeup makes your eczema symptoms worse. The most important thing is to prioritize skin health and find a skin care routine that works best for you.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyEczemaTeam is the social network for people with eczema and their loved ones. On MyEczemaTeam, more than 47,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with eczema.

Are you looking for makeup that won’t make your eczema worse? Have you found a foundation that works well for your eczema? Share your questions or tips in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

Posted on May 11, 2023
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Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D. is a dermatologist at the Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Sarah Winfrey is a writer at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here.

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