My Eczema and Sensitive Skincare Routine

My Eczema Care Routine March 2016

My eczema skincare routine is an holistic routine. That is why you will find that I don’t just apply creams but also consider my psychological wellbeing because lets face it, stress is not good for eczema! Here is my current routine. My advice to you would be to use it as a template only and then shape it to fit your skin needs. We all have different skin so listen to yours. I always aim for soothing and nourishing products. At the bottom I’ve also put a few breakfast ideas.

 

Please comment your thoughts or any questions below! Share what works for you.

 

Shower/ Wake up Routine

 

First thing in the morning I like to shower. If my skin is all flaky and dry as well I find that the only way I can really get rid of the flakes/ clean it properly is to shower. As you’ve probably read all over the internet already, long and hot showers can dry out the skin especially for us eczema sufferers and I do find this to be the case. It feels so nice to have a long, hot shower I know but when I step out of the shower I find that I am so dry and irritated that the long, hot shower is definitely not worth it! So I keep my showers short and the water lukewarm. I know some people find it hard to give long, hot showers up especially in the winter, but I find that eventually you have to put your skin first! It is worth it!

Please note, I avoid water contact with my face and neck (which are prone to eczema) as I wash these after my shower.

Products used in the shower:

Leanor Greyl Shampoo – Balancing (I have greasy roots and drier ends as I have long hair). It leaves my hair a bit drier than I would like for styling but has not caused me any irritation which is a definite plus. Currently searching for different shampoos, conditioner and leave in spray to get some moisture back into my hair but this has not caused adverse effects on my skin.

Balance Me Rose Otto Body Wash – Gentle wash. Really like Balance me as a whole and I have found their Rose range really helpful for my sensitive skin.

I also use an exfoliating sponge or loofah. Now the pressure I use depends on my skin. If my skin is feeling sore and irritated I will be more gentle, if my skin is doing better I will add pressure to ensure I clean the skin AND get rid of flakes. See my evening routine for more ways that I use to clean the skin and avoid infection. I keep these methods for the evening as preference but if you have more time in the morning they could work.

After showering, I pat my skin dry with a towel making sure that I don’t rub it. For me rubbing my skin can be quite harsh as my skin is so sensitive and it can irritate any eczema patches I have, especially on my neck, so I make sure I just pat the skin dry. Do not be tempted to rub to itch either!

2. Face and Neck Routine

So I now wash my face and neck at the sink after my shower. This is something I have been doing since I changed to the “hote cleansing method”. My routine in a nutshell is: cleanse, tone, serum, oil, moisturise. (I vary serum/ oil depending on the state of my skin).

I apply a cleanser directly to a dry face (it may be damp after your shower which is fine) and massage it in circles and ensure I thoroughly massage face and neck. I used to be in such a rush to wash my face, but now I ensure I give myself time, be gentle but ensure I am cleansing well. I used to be so afraid of products, but since finding more gentle cleansers, I feel more confident massaging it into my face knowing it is natural and not harmful. I also find the ones I currently use don’t cause as much irritation as soaps or previous cleansers I have used.

I massage for 1-3 minutes (dependent on my mood!) and then use a clean face cloth to wipe away residue using warm water. I place it over my face first for a bit of a steam effect and then gently swipe the face cream off. Now when I first started I used to scrub it off, DON’T! You don’t need to. If you repeat the process 3 times in gentle swiping motions it really is fine and my face thanks me for not being so harsh! The 4th time I use cold water and dab to my skin.

I then apply a toner. Now with toners it has taken me some trial and error.  I realised this was the product aggravating my skin back in 2014 and so have had to do some digging for a sensitive toner. My Advice to you would be to add one product at a time so you know which ones work and which don’t. Adding them all at once will mean you’re not sure, making the journey to your routine more difficult. If you use one, try and leave it out and see if it makes a difference on your skin. The difference for me in finding a good cleanser has been astonishing in terms of suppleness of my skin and irritation and redness.

I use a serum straight afterwards all over my face and neck. You can choose a serum dependent on what you would like it for. I opt for a calming one as after cleansing my face can feel pretty vulnerable and is highly irritable. A calming serum helps to soothe that and reduce my likelihood of itching and hence allows skin to heal!

I then apply a facial oil. A few drops really do go a long way and a bottle may seem expensive but after purchasing one 30ml bottle in March this year it is still going strong now after over 3 months of use twice daily. Facial oils for me are soothing and the serum and oil give an added moisture boost before apply face cream. It REALLY does give more moisture! I tried without these products and the moisturisers alone just never satisfy my thirsty skin. I really would recommend adding a serum and facial oil to your routine if your skin is thirsty! Add one at a time and see how they help you. If like me you find skin is dry when you just apply moisturiser, try a facial oil! I have the current one I use in the shop. I used to overuse it but two or three large drops is enough as you will apply moisturiser once it’s absorbed.

I give my facial oil a few minutes to absorb and then apply my moisturiser. I then add a healing salve to any parts of my face and neck which are still dry or flakey and need extra care. I try and be sparing with these so I’m not greasy to the finish !

Using a sunscreen can help reduce further damage to the skin, use a good SPF. I currently use my make up as my SPF as I have darker skin and so SPF 15 is okay, but I am currently thinking of investing in a sunscreen which is natural for our skin type as I find normal sun screens make me itch! I have not yet found one though so I cannot recommend!

Now this seems like such a long process but it is worth it! This has changed my skin literally. I used to get really bad eczema and then spots because my skin would get oily too. This face routine has helped big time to balance my skin and keep it from being dry.

Products I use for this are listed below: please note that I alternate my products.I find that if I overuse my products then my skin becomes “accustomed” and the product stops working which I really don’t want from products I love! So I will use a product for a week to month maximum and then alternate one or two products then alternate back (does that make sense?!). This is great as I don’t feel I get tired of products and my skin thanks me for it. It also means I can test new products as I run out of one and mix and match depending on my skin needs.

Cleansers

  • Trilogy Very Gentle Cleansing Cream (gentle to use) – not my favourite as it is really plain and it takes the joy out of cleansing for me but then again it is plain and doesn’t do much which sometimes is better than nothing! Since cleansing is so important I like to indulge in my cleansers. You can read my review here to make your own judgment.
  • Pai Rose and Camellia Cleanser – this is still my favourite cleanser and you can read my review here to see the pros and cons. For me the pros still outweigh the cons though it does hurt me everytime I see the cost! Because I do a deep cleanse of my skin at night, this works well for me in the morning as a gentle cleanse.

I would recommend a balm cleanser if your skin is really sore, really dry and really red. They are so much more gentle in my eyes and have no water hence less irritation for me. You only use water when you wet your face cloth, this means you can soothe your skin with massage and not dread the sting! In general these can be more pricey, but I find that they last me for months. For example, my current 60ml cleanser is more than half full and I’ve had it since February. I use it at nighttime as ritual so they really do go along way. They can be a good place to start if the hot cleansing method is new to you. I’ve also listed Lyons Leaf as its a really affordable one!

An alternative is to make your own! I use balm cleansers I have brought and also made my own so it really is up to you. You can read up on some oils which are good to cleanse with here. One great thing about DIY is you can make an oil to suit your skin. The rule of thumb for dry skin is 25% castor oil, 75% of another oil which is good for eczema.

  • Suti Cleanse (organic) – This was my first ever balm cleanser and I would still recommend. not only that but Suzannah at Suti was so helpful to me when I began my journey and they are such an holisitc, healing brand that is happy to help. You can read my review here
  • Organic Pharmacy Carrot Butter Cleanser – you can read my review here
  • Lyons Leaf Cleansing Balm – Not tested but I have tested their calendula cream which I love so this may be the place to start. You can visit the site here
  • Face Cloths: I brought mine from Wilkinsons (UK based) for 33p each and in pink for added fun! Muslin cloths are okay but I find they are a bit too harsh and the face cloths suit me better! I brought 7 for each day of the week, but as long as you wash to ensure each day you have a fresh one its fine to buy less.

Toner

I’m still playing with toners but I try and aim for soothing ones so that after cleansing, it calms my skin or offers a refreshing feel. These are the ones I have tested with no issues:

  • Skin Bright Toning Mist (Balance Me beauty)website
I prefer sprays and then massage in with clean hands.
Serum
  • Trilogy Very Gentle Calming Serum – read review here. Since my skin is calmer I don’t use serums as much but the one I found really helpful to soothe redness and irritation was this one! If they are some of your concerns try it out.
Facial Oil
  • myroo skin boost serum (current) –simple, no fragrance, I find all oils soothing. This has been helpful for moisture, scarring and soothing without being overly greasy. I am currently using this day and night and I’m not breaking out! I specifically pay more attention to my upper lip which is my worst eczema-prone space, it has helped with my texture. Tip: don’t over do it as remember you will still apply your moisturiser. This costs £30 at retail but because it works so well, you can purchase this in the Shop for £20 along with 4 other products from my routine. Shop here. This has lasted me for months. I ordered this bottle in March and its still over half full.
  • Trilogy Rosehip Plus Antioxidant Oil – Great for moisturisation, less so than the Pai oil, but it is also less greasy which can be handy! Added antioxidants though rather than just rosehip.
  • Pai Rosehip Oil – great for moisturising and reduces scarring and unevenness.
  • The Organic Pharmacy Skin Rescue Oil –Really soothing on aggravated skin! A little goes along way. My go to when skin is playing havoc! Read my review here
Shocked at the prices? Buy some natural, organic rosehip or Argan oil to use. I have used organic argan oil and have really liked the oil. It is an expensive oil but you can use it on your hair too. Rosehip is great for scarring and so great for pigmentation issues.
Face creams
  • REN Hydra-Calm Global Protection Day Cream – Alone without serum or oil, not personally moisturising enough, but with those 2 products REALLY soothing, gentle with no irritation.
  • Proella Organics: new to my routine and my current face cream (will review soon). It has a touch of lemon so its refreshing on application but it does leave a film of moisture so I know its doing what I need.
Body/ Neck
  • Salcura Zeoderm Skin Repair Moisturiser – I apply this to my neck after the moisturiser as my neck is more dry than my face. I also apply this to my arms and legs, over time, this has helped smooth out my elbow eczema. Give it time though! Use in conjunction with DermaSpray if skin is extra dry. Not the nicest scent but works well on irritated skin.
  • I also use a DIY shea butter whipped body butter (I will be putting up an “how to” post soon!). This has helped me to get the benefits of Shea butter and coconut oil whilst having it in cream form! You will know I love coconut oil and this is why this is featured in the Restore and Repair box here. I feel it is an oil you should try as its versatile! But if like me you find it overly greasy in the AM (I use it in the evenings), then keep an eye out for my DIY recipe coming soon. If you are in no rush, then I would say stick to basics and use either organic coconut oil or shea butter. It’s in this month’s Restore and Repair box (coconut oil) so if you want to try a few products from my routine, that would be the cheapest way, Click on Shop)
Stubborn eczema patches
For those nuisance patches (dry not wet!) I alternate between
  • Lyons Leaf Calendula cream
  • Pure Potions Moisturising ointment

I place this on top of moisturisers. I use a thin layer and will usually place this in my bag to top up during the day. Salves are great to make a barrier and soothe. Pure Potions can be purchased in the Restore and Repair box or seperately. It was one of the first salves I used – my advice now years later is do not overuse it! I overused thinking that was the solution but it really isn’t. Be patient, apply a layer two to three times a day and along with your other healing products it should make a difference. I have found that a combination of products i sbetter than overloading on one! Also I find the benefits ‘wear off’ if I overuse so i alternate these weekly for a change.

2. For morning “itchyness”

 

Sometimes, I find that the 20 minutes or so after I have showered my skin is still at the uncomfortable and irritable stage – the stage where one itch could lead to a total itching frenzy! So I find that I prefer to keep myself (and my hands!) busy throughout this period so that I don’t have the time to stop and think about itching! I do any of the following:

  • I make a sort of relaxing ritual out of my routine. Usually, this involves me putting on my ipod and listening to my favourite radio station, spotify playlist or podcast (seriously podcasts can be great!). Choose something you enjoy and helps you to relax. This also gives you some distraction from the itching.
  • Waking up late is distratous as it stresses me out more! Give yourself enough time in the mornings so you don’t itch in a late frenzy. Seriously, mindfully and slowly going through your routine can make all of the difference.
  • Don’t wake up and examine your skin in the mirror! I used to do this and you will know as much as me, this really doesn’t start the day off well instead it puts the eczema cloud above our heads! Either get in the shower straight away or if you can’t help but look in the mirror, make yourself list three things you LOVE about yourself. Seriously some self-love can do a world of good when you feel low. Practise affirmations – some of mine are: you are more than your eczema, I want to be a psychologist and I’m not going to let my eczema get in the way, look how far you have come – your skin could be better but it could be so much worse, I am strong and I can achieve whatever I set my mind to.
  • Try Meditation. For me, meditation has been a great addition to my routine. I use HeadSpace and you can download it for free from your mobile app store. If you find you’re getting aggravated, sit for 10 minutes and meditate, it can make such a difference and leave you feeling more calm. I sometimes do this when I first wake up or straight after my shower before my routine. Basically try it at any stage that you feel stressed, aggravated and are dying to itch, It really helped me to find some peace in the chaos of eczema! I am not a mornign person and so will sit and script all the bad things before I even get out of bed – mindfulness meditation has helped me to just start off the day better. Remember your mood is just as important in your skin healing journey!
  • Write down three of your goals for the day  or things you are looking forward to. Start your day off thinking about the bigger picture which is your life. The goals don’t need to be life changing – they could simply be to spend 30 minutes reading.

 

3. Hair care!

I like to wear my hair down especially when I go out as my facial and neck eczema makes me feel quite self conscious and it basically makes me feel better! Now I know this isn’t always great as it can be a trigger for itching but I know how it can feel having your face and neck on show at times when you just want to curl up and hide so I always think having hair down is better than feeling bad all day! I don’t know whether haircare products make my skin worse, so I try and not use them if I can help it! Straightening stops any hair product brushing my face when my hair is down and irritating my face further as I will only ever use pure argan oil spray which means its okay for the skin too. When I’m home though, I tie my hair back so that it doesn’t touch my face and it can’t get irritated. I’ve also began doing this more in the daytime too now that my skin is calmer. From time to time, I do add product to my hair (especially if I’m going out somewhere nice) and if its a spray like hairspray, I cover my shoulders with a towel so that it doesn’t land on my skin and spray it so that the spray doesn’t touch my face. (it really bugs me at the hairdressers how they always get my face!) This isn’t perfect but it gives me options!

My advice would be trial products. You’ll know if they aggravate! There are natural products out there so do your research if you’re reacting! This is my routine and I hope it can form a starting place for you, but you know your own skin and work to tailor your routine to your own skin. I created the Restore and Repair box so that you can find more products for cheaper because eczema is a game of trial and error so if you want to try more for less, check it out here. Otherwise shops to search for which I have shopped from include: Naturismo and Love Lula in the UK – natural and also organic brands. Makes it easier to purchase a range of brands together but you can always use the brand sites.

4. Make up

– I think this needs a post of its own! Will get around to it:) and I know guys and parents won’t be wanting to read about this but girls we can sure discuss it! Briefly:

When skin is calm – Bare Minerals powder foundation. I know there are ‘better’ natural foundations out there but I just can’t get a good colour for my skin! Really frustrating. If you are olive skinned to fair then check our Jane Iredale. This doesn’t work well for really dry skins more so if eczema is calmer and you don’t want flare ups.

Bare Minerals now also do liquid which has been great for dry days. I would avoid any make up if you have wet eczema – it will wreak havoc! I used to always make the infection worse. See my night routine for ways to combat the skin infection and heal the skin and then consider make up. But don’t forget even if your cheeks are weeping, try and do your eyes. I would try and apply mascara when my cheeks were bad just so I felt I was able to do one thing that was ‘normal’. I put my hands down to anyone that can go make up free, I have found that I find it difficult to. Do wish I could though!

 

My main aim with make up is to use natural products and to take make up off properly in the evenings (see night routine) but I don’t have an established routine and still use ‘old’ non natural lipsticks as they cost alot! I just slowly replace them with natural when they run out.

 

5. Breakfast

I opt for any of the following:

  • Superfood gluten free cereals or plain old Gluten free cereals and almond milk. Almond milk is naturally sweet so is great for plain cereals
  • Omelette cooked with coconut oil, with spinach, onions and any other veg I have! I add some herbs for taste alongside salt and pepper. This keeps me full for longer which means I don’t snack so much during the day
  • Smoothie! My current: Kale, spinach, pineapple . I opt for anything which is green plus fruit for taste. I also add almond milk.
  • To drink if I dont have a smoothie: I’m an avid tea drinker – I may make this my english breakfast tea (I have no sugar), I may choose a cleansing herbal tea instead which is good for healing such as red bush, nettle, dandelion. It really depends on how I feel!

My general rules for eating are to minimise gluten, dairy and sugar! Sugar plays havoc with my skin in terms of itching, so if you are finding that you are itchy and havent looked at your diet then sugar may be the first place to start! I find keeping all three things at bay (not eliminating but keeping them at low doses each day) has been okay!

 

So here is my morning routine. Exhaustive I know but I hope that it helps you to begin to make changes. Try and make small changes and ease into it. Just remember that eczema is about mind, body and skin so ensure you think about all three! That is why I practise positive self-talk and relax, have a skin routine as well as consider my diet. I have found that this works for me and that’s why in the Shop I always think about all three! Eczema is about healing holiistically.

It would be great to hear your thoughts! Happy reading xxx

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