Living with Eczema

SOMEONE has Eczema and managed Make-up

Erica Cheung, NYU student who has written for Huffington Post shares her make-up, beauty journey.
Erica Cheung, NYU student who has written for Huffington Post shares her make-up, beauty journey.

This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Erica Cheung, who has eczema for three years and shares how she manages her make-up. I first learnt of Erica’s eczema while reading her story on Huffington Post. Erica writes for Huffington Post and a senior at NYU. 

Marcie Mom: Hi Erica, thanks for being the first guest for this new series ‘Someone has Eczema’! This blog has been focusing on expert advice for two years, and now I think it’s time to spotlight on individuals coping with eczema as our readers are already knowledgeable in eczema. How long have you had eczema, and has it affected you more during a certain stage of your life?

Erica: I’ve had eczema for three years since I was a sophomore in college. At first, I wasn’t sure what was happening to me but I couldn’t take hot showers anymore without feeling itchy and I started noticing red patches of skin on my neck. Developing eczema in my early years of college was tough not only because it was uncomfortable and unattractive, it added to the stresses I already had as a hardworking student/intern/part-time employee. I researched online about my condition and although I learned a lot about eczema, I really felt like I was one of a handful of people suffering with this condition. This is why I’m so excited about your series ‘Someone has Eczema’!

Marcie Mom: I see in this post that the Huffington Post loves your beauty wisdom. I’m someone who hasn’t put on makeup more than ten times, and one of them was on my marriage! So, can you share your make-up tips (like when you change your brush and what else? I’m clueless in this!)

Erica: As a style/beauty blogger, I love experimenting with makeup and nail polish (especially on holidays!) which is why I was really bummed when I developed eczema and realized that most of the makeup I was using irritated my skin and eyes. My advice when negotiating makeup and eczema is to find a beauty regimen that suits your skin. It really starts with having happy skin. I make sure to use a moisturizer that uses natural ingredients and is highly moisturizing but also calming. My skin is extremely dry and sensitive. It’s always great to ask your dermatologist what skin products he/she recommends and it’s very important to know what suits your skin type. I always recommend Lush’s products because they’re all natural and handmade, so it is easy to know what exactly you’re putting on your skin.

Once your skin is calm and ready for makeup, the next step is to find a good foundation. Again, I always look for natural makeup lines that use as many non-synthetic materials as possible. Two good makeup lines to look into are Tarte and Bare Essentials. Always let the person at the makeup shop know that you have eczema and that you’re looking for makeup that is nourishing and natural and that also doesn’t clump up and get cakey. Cakey foundation is our enemy.

In terms of eye makeup, I learned the hard way that mascara and black eyeliner are the two most irritating products someone with eczema can use. That is, of course, if you’re using products made from harsh ingredients like coal or synthetic formulas. I use Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes and it works like a charm without irritating my tear ducts (it also makes my lashes look amazing!) I’ve also found that Lush’s Emotional Brilliance makeup line is absolutely fantastic for eyeliner choices because they’re all-natural and can easily be washed off with water.

The only other makeup advice I can give is to make sure to remove makeup at night and use a soothing night moisturizer. In terms of scalp problems, I had a hard time finding products to soothe my scalp. Eventually what helped was taking Evening Primrose Oil and trying my hardest not to scratch. Also, natural shampoos seemed to soothe my scalp way more than other shampoos with chemicals in them (again Lush has an amazing selection). If you have any other questions about specific issues or advice please email me

Marcie Mom: For those with facial eczema, do refer to Dr Lynn Chiam’s advice on various types of rashes on face and rashes around the mouth and lips.

Erica, what is your skin care routine for your face? Do you moisturize and do you apply any topical treatment creams on any part of your face?

Erica: I briefly mention this above. I use skin care treatments with all natural ingredients. I wash my face in the morning with water and twice a week I use a light exfoliator from Burt’s Bees. I then use a moisturizer called Celestial for sensitive skin from Lush. I only apply topical treatment creams when I flare up. If I am flaring up, I try not to put anything on my face and apply treatment creams until the flare passes (I also take a antihistamine and drink green tea). I don’t use toners because they tend to dry my skin up too much.

Marcie Mom: One final question – on the dreaded day of eczema flare, and should you fall on a day that you think you ought to have makeup on, what do you do?

Erica: I would take a strong antihistamine (I take Allegra) and then wash my face with no exfoliator at all. I would then apply my trusty moisturizer (its very important to find a moisturizer that you love that soothes your face no matter what) and go with a more natural look. Choose a bold lip (pinks, reds, oranges) and apply neutral eye shadow colors (which contain less synthetic ingredients to begin with). Curl your eyelashes but apply no mascara and go with a light eyebrow pencil. The bold brow and lip with draw attention away from the rest of your face and the eye shadow with give you an elegant but natural look. I would finish off by applying topical creams when needed and waiting for the flare to pass to apply foundation and mascara.

Marcie Mom: Thanks Erica for being my first guest and sharing your personal journey, with makeup and eczema – your sharing confirms I’m right to start this series, I’d never be able to advice anyone on make-up! (Maybe I ought to try make-up someday too, sounds fun!)

Your sharing will help others!