OUR SKIN: HOW I HELPED MY ECZEMA
Skin conditions aren't always just visible on the surface; many of us feel frustrated and deflated on the inside when experiencing a flare up, too. So, let's give a warm welcome to Our Skin Series, where members of our Tropic team who have truly been there (and got the proverbial T-shirt) talk to me about their relationship with their skin, and what has helped it stay happy and healthy over the years!
From eczema as a tiny tot to teenaged acne and scaliness in our senior years, our skin is constantly shifting and reshaping, much like our relationship with it. Where a single spot at school may warrant wild heights of humiliation, as we mature we often gain a greater understanding of our skin as a signal of what’s going on underneath, affording us a more respectful relationship with our body’s best protection.
However, it’s not always plain sailing, and some of us have no choice but to pay a little more attention to what’s going on up top. Skin conditions can work against the waves of our skin’s changing tides, creating a current of stress and frustration for those experiencing them. So, we thought we’d talk to a few members of HQ about their experiences with dermal conditions who are keen to help others in the same boat.
DANIELLA LUISA, DIGITAL CAMPAIGNS AND CONTENT MANAGER
Please can you tell me a little about your skin condition?
I've had eczema since I was a baby. Honestly, I don’t remember a time where I didn’t want to itch a part of my body! My ‘sweet spots’ include my scalp, eyes, neck, elbows, back of my knees and (due to Covid-19), like many, I’ve been rigorously washing my hands and applying hand sanitiser, so they’re not in the best shape. On top of that, I have very sensitive skin – I was the child that didn’t have her sun cream rubbed in at the beach and had it layered like thick white paint.
What did you previously use on your skin to alleviate your symptoms?
My first memory of skincare is of well known emollient creams, even while writing this I can smell the claggy scent and envisage the thick texture! I’ve used baby oil, prescription products, topical creams, endless baby products, even some questionable old wives’ remedies that my Italian grandmother swears by! I can thank her for my sensitive skin, a true gift.
Despite never sleeping with my makeup on (even after a drink or two), trying to eliminate certain foods and avoiding warm showers, I came to realise that I needed to understand my triggers, avoid wherever possible and create a soothing routine when a flare up occurred. Over the last ten years or so, I’ve managed to create a routine where only my eyes and scalp tend to flare up, and latterly hands.
How did your skin condition make you feel?
Self-conscious all year round! In the summer months I’d worry about my elbows and neck, as when I’m warm they tend to get irritated, and if I start to itch I could itch forever! Additionally, I’m in a small group of people who actually get irritated by the sea – usually the sea is a great soother for eczema-prone skin, but not me! It makes me itch more so, I’m always quite nervous at the beach.
In the winter, my little eyes are subjected to heating which dries my eyelids and under eyes. Most of the time I can’t wear concealer so my under eye bags are visible for the world to see!
What products eventually worked for you?
Now that I have a better understanding of my triggers, which include stress, alcohol, lack of sleep and crying (it sounds strange I know but over the last five years I’ve discovered that even my tears irritate my eyes) my flare ups have reduced quite significantly!
Whenever I do experience a flare up I tend to use a hair mask and oil to soothe my scalp twice a week, avoiding heated tools and tight hairstyles. I try to use cold water when washing my hands, as warm water can wreak havoc on my skin. I also use a very sensitive hand cream and do my best not to itch! Sometimes I’ll also go to bed with a layer of Tamanu Balm on my fingers to soothe those spots of dryness.
In terms of skincare, I use Unscented Smoothing Cleanser in the evenings, and if I’m wearing makeup I’ll mix in some Little Roary baby oil for a deeper cleanse, using a Bamboo Face Cloth to gently remove.. During flare up periods I’ll use Deep Hydration soothing cooling mask and even apply a light layer when going to sleep to help elevate the dryness. After that I combine a few drops of Elixir age-defying omega oil with Skin Dream age-defying firming cream concentrate and sometimes I’ll use Tamanu Balm if needed. Due to my sensitive skin, I try to avoid eye care products and use a balm where possible. In truth, I’m too scared to try eye cream after having an allergic reaction to a cult eye product a few years ago.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is feeling self-conscious of their eczema now, what would it be?
That you’re not alone! Most people suffer from a skin condition in some form and so they’re not looking at you. It’s important to be kind to yourself and your skin. Also, the more you worry about your condition, the more prominent it will seem! A positive mindset goes a long way!
Be patient. It takes time to create the ideal routine for your skin, so when you find your hero products, keep it simple and focus on ingredients which soothe dry skin with anti-inflammatory properties, like Tamanu and Rosehip Oil.
Lastly, try to understand your triggers, avoid them when possible and when you can't, try to have relievers in place to help you. And don’t forget to drink water to keep your skin hydrated!
Please note that all information provided in this article comes from one individual tackling their personal skin ups and downs. Any results from products used or lifestyle changes are unique to their own skin's reactions and might not work for everyone. If you are experiencing a skin condition, please speak to a doctor or dermatologist before using any product on your skin.