How to Apply Makeup on Eczema, According to Makeup Artists and Derms

How to Apply Makeup on Eczema, According to Makeup Artists and Derms

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Mastering the art of makeup application is already a feat in and of itself. Add in an itchy, chronic skin condition like eczema—characterized by patches red, dry, and flaky patches—and things get a bit trickier. That said, you can absolutely still wear a full face of makeup if you’ve got eczema. 

The key is to use skincare and makeup products that work with your skin versus against it, to use a light and gentle approach with application, and to practice good hygiene. We spoke to dermatologists and makeup artists for their best tips on how to apply makeup with eczema-prone skin. 

01 of 10

Use Products Suitable for Sensitive Skin

If you’ve got eczema, you already know that the tiniest things can cause a flare up. That’s all the more reason to stick to hypoallergenic skincare and makeup products suitable for sensitive skin. 

“Those with eczema should avoid products containing heavy fragrance or drying alcohols as these can be irritating on the skin,” advises board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD. “Additionally those with eczema should be cautious when using certain active ingredients that may be irritating on the skin, such as exfoliating acids, retinoids, and benzoyl peroxide.” 

02 of 10

Moisturize Before Applying Makeup

Eczema causes dry and flaky patches, so applying a moisturizer prior to foundation, blush, and other cosmetics is a must. 

“It may seem obvious, but using a gentle moisturizer or even applying a thicker ointment to certain creases or folds can help makeup go on more evenly and more smoothly in those with eczema-prone skin,” Dr. Garshick explains. She says to look for hyaluronic acid or glycerin which help to draw moisture into the skin.  

Celebrity makeup artist Tomy Rivero agrees, adding that you should allow ample time to prep skin. “You want to layer serums and moisturizers allowing them to really sink in and cushion the skin,” he says. 

03 of 10

Always Apply Makeup Primers

Consider well-formulated makeup primers your secret weapon when applying makeup to eczema prone skin. They work for everyone, of course, but are especially helpful when you’re dealing with this chronic skin condition. 

“Using a primer after your skincare creates a buffer between your color cosmetics and your skin, as some pigments can cause flare-ups,” notes celebrity makeup artist Bryan Cantor. Primers also add another layer of much-needed moisture and can help smooth out rough texture. 

Along with a face primer, also apply an eyelid primer. Dr. Garshick notes that eyelids are a common area to experience eczema flare ups.

04 of 10

Prioritize Good Hygiene

One of the biggest mistakes people with eczema make is foregoing excellent hygiene. “Eczema compromises the skin’s barrier function and microbiome, making it more susceptible to pathogenic bacteria,” notes board-certified dermatologist Dr. Tiina Meder, MD, FAAD. “If using brushes or sponges for makeup application, regular cleaning with a gentle cleanser is crucial.” Also be mindful of product expiration dates. 

05 of 10

Opt for Cream Formulas Versus Powders

When you’re standing in that makeup aisle or perusing products online, veer toward cream formulas versus powder products.

“Foundations that are cream-based tend to be more hydrating and nourishing on the skin. This is opposed to powder formulations, which tend to be more drying, especially for those with eczema-prone skin,” Dr. Garshick notes. Also add those cream blushes, highlighters, and eye shadows to your cart. 

06 of 10

Go Light Versus Heavy

While it’s tempting to use a lot of makeup to cover up eczema patches, this approach often backfires. 

“Using too much product can be more irritating for eczema-prone skin,” Dr. Garshick explains. “Additionally the more makeup that is applied to the skin, typically the harder it will be to remove, which can also be drying on the skin and may worsen the appearance of eczema.” 

Cantor says to instead apply a sheer formula all over to help even out your skin tone, and then apply a matching concealer where extra coverage is needed. 

07 of 10

Use a Gentle Hand

Your sensitive skin prefers a sensitive touch. Dr. Meder says to avoid rubbing foundation aggressively, which can just cause redness and irritation. Instead, use a clean makeup brush or sponge to gently dab on your makeup. Use this same gentle approach when removing makeup, as well. 

08 of 10

Avoid High-Shimmer Products

As pretty as they are, Rivero says that shimmery products aren’t the best choice if you have eczema since they can highlight flaky patches. He recommends avoiding micas, shimmering powders, and products formulated with glitter. Gloss products can help you achieve a similar dewy, light-catching effect.

09 of 10

Reconsider Longwear Products

A product that promises to stay put for hours sounds great, but it’s not always the best option if you have eczema. 

“Avoid makeup with extra staying power, like long-wear and waterproof products, as these can cause flare-ups due to the strong chemicals that are required to fully remove them,” Cantor advises. “They can also cause flare ups due to their tendency to leave residue on the skin if not removed properly.”

10 of 10

Always Do a Patch Test

A patch test is a brilliant move when trying new skincare or makeup products. “Apply a new product to a small test area that isn’t highly visible, like under your ear or the underside of your jaw,” Cantor says. “Reapply the product to the same area for a week to determine if it causes any adverse effects before adding it to your daily routine.” 


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