- 5 Reasons the Skin on Your Face Might Be Peeling
- 10 things to do if your skin is peeling
- Turn the heat down in your shower
- Get a humidifier
- Apply a thick moisturizer (right away)
- Skip soap in nonessential places
- Lower the heat in your home
- Avoid exfoliation
- Lay off the acne treatments
- Stick to non-irritating makeup
- Put some gloves on
- See a dermatologist
- How I Cleared Up My Eczema: Alicia’s Story
- What can you do to take care of your skin at home to manage eczema?
- Your Eczema Skin Care Routine
- Suffer From Eczema? Here’s How To Approach Your Skincare Routine
- What actually is eczema?
- What causes eczema?
- What ingredients can irritate eczema?
- What should a good skincare routine look like for eczema-prone skin?
- What are the best creams for eczema?
- How Hyaluronic Acid Benefits Skin
- Hyaluronic Acid’s Anti-Aging Benefits
- Hyaluronic Acid and Sodium Hyaluronate
- How to Use Hyaluronic Acid in Your Skin Care Routine (When and Where to Use It)
- Hyaluronic Acid Oral Supplements
- Who Is Hyaluronic Acid Best For?
- Are There Any Drawbacks Of Hyaluronic Acid?
- What Other Ingredients Does Hyaluronic Acid Work Best With?
- Where And How Should I Use Hyaluronic Acid?
- How do use hyaluronic acid?
- What are the best hyaluronic acid serums?
5 Reasons the Skin on Your Face Might Be Peeling
When you think of uncomfortable and unsightly peeling skin on your face, it’s usually the result of a few too many hours in the sun. But sunburn isn’t the only reason the skin on your face may peel. “It can be the result of several different factors ranging from damage to the skin to inflammatory processes,” says Jody Levine, M.D., assistant clinical instructor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Read on to discover some of the most common culprits of peeling skin so you can smooth it over and prevent future flakiness.
The number one reason the skin on your face may peel is sunburn. The reason: “Ultraviolet rays from the sun actually kill off skin cells,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. “When this happens, the dead cells are sloughed off (in the form of peeling) so that new, baby skin cells can replace them.” The best way to avoid sunburn? You guessed it—slather on sunscreen every day. Look for one with at least SPF 30, which blocks 97 percent of UVB rays, the shortwave rays that cause sunburn and redness.
Burns can also be the result of chemical peels, in which a dermatologist uses chemicals to literally peel away layers of skin. “The damaged skin will peel and flake, and in more severe cases, may blister before peeling,” says Levine. The result is usually smoother, brighter skin. Talk to your doctor to find out if this treatment is right for you.
Certain medications, such as retinoid products to treat acne and wrinkles, can cause peeling skin. “You might notice flaking around the nose and mouth area,” says Levine. “If this happens, ask your doctor if you should decrease your application schedule to every other day or every two days until your skin becomes more tolerant to the medication.” When applying retinoid creams or gels, be sure to avoid sensitive areas around the nose and eyes.
Other topical medications like benzoyl peroxide (which fights acne-causing bacteria), sulfa (a type of antibiotic) and salicylic acid may lead to dry skin and cause peeling and flaking, especially if skin is sensitive, says Levine. If you have easily agitated skin, skip products that contain these ingredients and go for gentle cleansers and lightweight, oil-free moisturizers instead.
3. Dry Skin
When the skin is dry, skin cells do not stick together as smoothly and they start to flake or peel off, says Zeichner. While cold temperatures are often the cause of dry skin, there are other factors that could cause a flaky, peeling complexion. “Living in an area with low humidity and using harsh soaps can also cause moisture loss that leads to dry skin,” says Levine.
To avoid dry, peeling skin, it’s important to keep your face properly hydrated. Look for moisturizers targeted to your skin type—oily, dry, normal, or combination. “It’s also crucial to use gentle cleansers that don’t strip your skin of its natural oils, which keep moisture levels stable thus minimizing peeling and flaking,” says Levine. And drinking lots of water can also help ensure proper skin hydration.
4. Skin conditions
Certain skin conditions like seborrheic dermatitis and eczema may cause the skin on the face to peel, says Levine. Both are chronic inflammatory skin conditions that don’t have a known cure. However, the symptoms can be controlled through proper moisturization. “Keeping your face hydrated will help minimize peeling and flaking,” says Levine.
It’s also important to avoid washing your face with hot water, which can irritate the skin. Instead, use lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser that is free of fragrances and harsh chemicals to help maintain your skin’s natural moisture barrier. After cleansing, gently pat your face dry with a towel (rather than rubbing harshly) and apply a moisturizer targeted to your skin type.
“Peeling on the face may also be the result of an allergic reaction to ingredients in cosmetics, skin-care products, hair products, or nail polish,” says Levine. For example, an allergic reaction to nail polish may cause the skin around your eyes to peel. Although you could react to any number of ingredients in a product, the most common triggers are preservatives such as parabens, says Levine.
Allergic reactions are often accompanied by other symptoms, such as redness and itching. To determine which ingredients are to blame, consult with a board certified dermatologist or allergist who can properly test for potential allergies. “If it’s determined that your peeling skin is in fact caused by an allergic reaction, you will need to be very diligent about reading ingredient labels to avoid contact with these irritants,” says Levine.
- Levine, Jody, M.D. Personal correspondence.
- Zeichner, Joshua, M.D. Personal correspondence.
10 things to do if your skin is peeling
- There are many reasons why your skin may be peeling, but the most common cause is dehydrated skin.
- By making a few changes in your daily routine, you can drastically help your peeling skin.
- If your peeling skin is caused by something other than lack of moisture, you should consult a board-certified dermatologist.
Dealing with peeling skin? You’re not alone. In fact, Papri Sarkar, a dermatologist in Massachusetts, told INSIDER that it’s a pretty common issue during the winter months. “The decreased humidity, colder temperatures, and frigid breezes can really do a number on your skin,” she said. If your skin is peeling from being too dry, Sarkar noted that it means your skin barrier is damaged or diminished.
But Sarkar added that there are other, less common things that can cause peeling skin. Bacterial or fungal infections (usually on your feet) can cause your skin to peel. Sarkar also pointed out that sunburn can also cause peeling, so it’s important to wear sunscreen when you hit the slopes. Of course, Sarkar adds that there are a lot of other less common causes of peeling skin, like genetic diseases and other rare medical problems. For those, she recommends seeing a board-certified dermatologist.
The good news is that there are several different ways to treat peeling skin — especially if it’s because of dry skin. Below Sarkar gives INSIDER 10 tips to deal with it.
Turn the heat down in your shower
Our skin is designed to be a tight fortress against outside onslaughts, Sarkar explained. She compared the upper layer of our skin to a brick wall: The skin cells (keratinocytes) are the bricks, and the mortar (the space between the bricks) is made of oil or lipids. “Hot water wreaks havoc on the lipids in our skin, leaving cracks and openings in our defenses against the outer world,” Sarkar said. “In addition, this hardy brick and mortar structure is there to keep the good stuff, like moisture, in. With gaps in our defenses we lose precious resources like hydration more quickly.”
Get a humidifier
A humidifier will give your face much needed moisture. Yury Stroykin /
Since your skin loses water more quickly in the winter months, Sarkar recommended adding moisture back into your environment. How do you do that? With a humidifier.
“Ideally, I recommend at least having one in your bedroom when you’re sleeping,” Sarkar said. If that’s not an option, Sarkar said you can fill a bathtub with water in your living space and let it evaporate into the air. “It’s not as effective, but it’s better than nothing in a pinch,” she said.
Apply a thick moisturizer (right away)
Turns out, moisturizer doesn’t add much moisture to your skin. “Instead, it’s pretty good at keeping the moisture that’s already in your skin there,” Sarkar said. “That’s why it’s imperative that when you go to the trouble of applying a moisturizer, you apply it on damp skin.” Sarkar suggested putting on a thick moisturizer after a shower without toweling dry completely.
If you don’t have time to shower but still want to get the most of your moisturizer, Sarkar recommended using your sink. “Put a thin layer of water on your arm, then moisturizer, and then continue with the rest of your body.”
Skip soap in nonessential places
If you’re dealing with dry, peeling skin, it’s best to skip the suds all over your body, as the soap can dry out your skin even more, Sarkar said. “Unless you’re mud wrestling, you can just soap up your armpits and private area,” she said. “Getting water on the rest of you is key so you can apply thick moisturizer on afterward, but you don’t need to soap your calves every day unless they seem dirty.”
Lower the heat in your home
With the temperatures outside dropping, you may be inclined to crank up the heat in your home. But Sarkar said the hot air can also irritate your peeling skin. “Keeping your heat high will generally dry out the air and cause decreased humidity in your environment, which worsens dry skin.”
Too much exfoliation is never a good idea. Volodymyr Nik/
If your skin is peeling, your first instinct may be to exfoliate so you can get smooth skin. But Sarkar said that exfoliating peeling skin might not be the best choice. “If your skin barrier is already beaten up, I don’t recommend exfoliating,” she said. “In fact, over-exfoliating can cause peeling skin as well. It’s unfortunately one of the most common causes of an inflamed and damaged skin barrier that I see in the clinic.”
Lay off the acne treatments
Breaking out? You may want to pile on all of the acne medications, but Sarkar said that will only make your skin peel even more. “Patients with acne think they can nuclear blast the pimples away with strong exfoliators and actives, but it tends to backfire and cause more damage and inflammation in the short term,” she said. “Slow and steady is generally always best with skincare in general.”
Stick to non-irritating makeup
Just because your skin is peeling doesn’t mean you have to avoid makeup, Sarkar said. But she noted that it’s best to avoid makeup that has certain ingredients in it. “I ask patients to stay away from makeup with retinol or salicylic acid or other, irritating, active ingredients,” she said.
If you’re struggling with getting your makeup to go on smoothly while your skin is peeling, Sarkar suggested using a gentle ointment at night to repair your skin barrier overnight. “Alternatively, you can apply a primer, a thin layer or oil or ointment on your face before applying the makeup and keep it in place with a setting powder,” she said.
Put some gloves on
Is the skin on your hands peeling off? Sarkar has a quick fix. “On the hands, peeling skin can be managed by soaking the skin and then applying cream and then putting on gloves,” she said. “If there’s a large degree of inflammation, dermatologists also add a topical anti-inflammatory cream.”
See a dermatologist
Your dermatologist might be able to determine why your skin is peeling. iStock
If you’re dealing with peeling skin and it’s not because of dry skin, it’s best to see a board-certified dermatologist. As Sarkar mentioned before things like fungal infections, genetic diseases, or other issues can cause your skin to peel and should be treated by a professional.
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
How I Cleared Up My Eczema: Alicia’s Story
Eczema is a lifelong struggle. To all of you out there with all variations of atopic dermatitis or chronic acne (to name but a few chronic skin issues), I feel you. It’s frustrating when your skin simply won’t cooperate when you’re giving it so much attention and care.
I can never rid myself of eczema; there’s no real cure for it. However, I’ve learned to manage my flare-ups, from the small ones to the big, persistent ones. Smaller episodes clear up pretty easily with the right care, but there are times that the flare-up is particularly raging and simply won’t go away.
This past fall, I had what I call “angry skin.” I had been testing all kinds of products, and some of the formulas were a bit drying. On top of that, I wasn’t sleeping much. I know better than to scratch my skin relentlessly (once I do, the scarring lasts way longer), so I kept my nails short and tried to think about anything other than the intense itchiness. However, this was the kind of flare-up where it didn’t matter if I never touched a finger to my skin — the swelling was there, the bumps were there, and the rash was there with all its angry redness.
To get this flare-up under control, the first thing I did was take a diluted bleach bath. This is something that you can read about on the American Academy of Dermatology and the National Eczema Association as well! Basically, the bleach can help kill the bacteria that causes the itchiness, and it’s safe because the bleach is so diluted. I used about 1/3 cup of household bleach that has 5-8% sodium hypochlorite in a full tub of lukewarm water — to put that in context, a standard US tub fills up with about 40 gallons of water. That’s 1/3 cup of bleach in 40 gallons of water. I then soaked in this very diluted lukewarm bleach bath (neck down only, never submerging my face) for about 10 minutes. After draining, I rinsed off with clean lukewarm water, then towel-dried, not so my skin was completely dry but just on this side of damp.
I used a baby lotion, Mustela, slathering it liberally everywhere. On the super dry and itchy spots, I applied an extra layer of the KBeauty Rescue Balm, which is this incredibly hydrating do-it-all balm that really helps provide this feeling of relief as it just seems to coax skin into calming down and cooperating. It really is my rescue-product for all sorts of issues — chapped lips, hang nails and rough cuticles, cracked heels, you name it.
For my face, I made a DIY face pack using rolled oats and water and nothing else. I made a thick paste and smeared it onto cleansed skin, leaving it on for 10-15 minutes for the oats to work their soothing, comforting magic.
After I washed off that face pack and patted the excess water off my face, leaving my skin damp, I first applied the Wild Dew Treatment Essence because, when my skin is dehydrated, it can get even more finicky, and the Wild Dew Treatment Essence sinks so quickly into skin and really helps to quench deep skin thirst immediately. I followed that with a generous 4-5 pumps of the Glass Skin Refining Serum, which really helps calm and soothe my skin — the Glass Skin Refining Serum contains healing and nourishing ingredients like madecassoside and the peach extract. Of course, the hyaluronic acid and niacinamide in the serum also help hydrate and brighten skin (and I love that too!), but, when my skin is acting up, it’s those soothing benefits that provide an almost instant relief for me. Finally, I squeezed a dime-sized amount of the KBeauty Rescue Balm onto my hands and pat-pat-patted it into my skin.
What to Avoid
1. Glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and retinol. These products tend to dry out or irritate skin, which is a problem for people with eczema. The condition is partly caused by a weak skin barrier, which lets irritating chemicals get into skin more easily, and lets more water evaporate. So it’s best to avoid products that make that problem worse.
2. Preservatives like methylparaben or butylparaben. They help keep cosmetics and skin care products from going bad or growing bacteria, but they can also lead to inflammation. Try using products with natural preservatives like neem oil or grapefruit seed extract when you can — they’re less irritating.
3. Fragrances. No matter how soft and subtle a scent may be, ingredients that give fragrance to makeup and lotion can trigger eczema flare-ups. Your safest bet? Pick cosmetics that are made for sensitive skin (it will say so on the package). Look for those that say “fragrance-free” rather than “unscented” on the label. Natural or organic products are also usually free of perfumes, but read their labels to make sure.
What can you do to take care of your skin at home to manage eczema?
Try these tips:
- Bathe only in warm water. Hot water dries out skin.
- Wash with a gentle cleanser instead of soap. Don’t use body scrubbers or washcloths, which can be irritating. Pat dry with a soft towel instead of rubbing, and be sure to leave your skin damp. Apply moisturizers daily. Do it right after you bathe or wash your hands. Choose fragrance-free moisturizers that won’t irritate you. Try using a thicker skin cream or ointment that has more oil at night, and wear cotton gloves or socks to lock in moisture. Gloves can also keep you from scratching in your sleep.
- Avoid too much bathing and hand washing. It will dry out your skin. Steer clear of alcohol-based hand cleaners, too.
- Limit your contact with skin irritants. Household cleaners, laundry detergents, perfumed soaps, bubble baths, cosmetics, and many other things can make eczema worse. Learn what irritates your skin so you can avoid it.
- Choose cotton clothes that fit comfortably. Wool and synthetic fibers can irritate skin. Be sure to wash new clothes before you wear them for the first time. Use fragrance-free laundry soap, and rinse your laundry thoroughly.
- Avoid getting overheated. When you’re hot and sweaty, it can trigger itching and scratching. After a workout, rinse off right away in a warm shower.
- Know your triggers. Many people with eczema react to allergens such as pollen, dust mites, animal dander, and mold. Ease stress. It can be hard to find time to relax, but lowering your stress level will help you avoid symptom flare-ups.
Your Eczema Skin Care Routine
The most common form of eczema is the itchy, rashy skin condition called atopic dermatitis. Unlike contact dermatitis, which can be blamed on a specific irritant or allergen, atopic eczema has no defined cause. It appears to be indirectly related to allergies because it’s common in people who have respiratory allergy symptoms such as asthma.
This skin condition needs to be managed with the right eczema treatment from the time it first appears, which, for 90 percent of those who have it, is in the first five years of life.
If you aren’t among the lucky 40 percent who outgrow it in adulthood, you’ll want to follow an eczema skin care plan that helps prevent flare-ups and soothes them when they do occur.
Control the Itch of Eczema
Keeping itching under control is job No. 1 of any eczema treatment. “The first symptom of an eczema outbreak may be an itch, which a patient scratches,” explains dermatologist Jessica Wu, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the
University of Southern California and Everyday Health skin and beauty expert. “The scratching stimulates nerve endings in the skin and causes inflammation in the area, which turns into a visible rash and triggers further itching. Controlling the itch is key to controlling eczema outbreaks.”
An important reason to keep the itching under control is that subsequent scratching can cause excessive damage. It’s a challenge to prevent eczema rashes from becoming infected, says Dr. Wu. “Bacteria can enter the skin through scratches and other open areas. I’ve seen increasing numbers of patients with eczema that becomes infected with Staph and other bacteria.”
The Challenge of Adult Eczema
One frustration about adult eczema is that it’s usually front and center, on the face and neck. “The skin on the face is thinner than elsewhere on the body, so it’s more sensitive,” Wu explains. Facial eczema can be triggered by cosmetics or skin care products and it’s frequently found on the eyelids, where it can cause red, flaky, swollen upper and even lower eyelids. It can also develop around the mouth. “It’s obviously more visible to others when it occurs on the face, so it’s important to treat it sooner rather than later.”
However, the face is not the only area that can be affected. “Eczema patches on the body can become thick and discolored, especially after weeks to months of scratching, and they can develop scabs. The discoloration can persist even months after the itching goes away,” says Wu.
And, because eczema makes your skin more fragile, you might be more vulnerable to other types of dermatitis. Hands are particularly at risk for eczema because they are exposed to many allergic and irritant triggers; the more hand-washing you do, the weaker your protective skin barrier can become.
Proper Skin Care for Eczema
Soothing is the operative word when putting together an eczema skin care routine. “Look for products that are specifically made for sensitive skin,” says Wu. “These are usually free of fragrance and other ingredients known to aggravate eczema, including lanolin.” Also avoid retinol, vitamin C, alpha hyrdoxy or salicylic acids, as these can aggravate eczema. One beneficial ingredient to look for is hyaluronic acid, which holds moisture against your skin without being irritating.
Try this step-by-step regimen to soothe eczema.
In the morning:
- Start with a gentle cleanser if your skin is oily. If you have dry or normal skin, just splash your face with water.
- Use your eczema treatment products, which may include a moisturizer and topical relief cream.
- Apply daily sunscreen.
In the evening:
- Wash with cleanser or plain water.
- Apply any treatment product, such as a topical corticosteroid cream or other prescription cream.
- Follow with moisturizer.
Why You Must Moisturize
Moisturizer plays a vital role in eczema skin care. An emollient-rich moisturizer can sometimes be effective alone; but when used in conjunction with a corticosteroid cream, the moisturizer makes the cream even more effective and may reduce the amount of time you need to use the steroid.
Between eczema episodes, moisturizer can stave off dry skin and help protect skin’s top layer against the elements. Creams and lotions that contain an ingredient called ceramide have shown particularly good results in some research studies involving atopic dermatitis patients. Always apply moisturizer right after cleansing to help seal in moisture, and use moisturizer up to four times a day as needed.
Too Much Is Not a Good Thing
Wu warns that there is a limit to how many times you can apply over-the-counter cortisone products to relieve itching. Don’t use these products more than twice a day, and no more than two weeks in a row without taking a break. Cortisone creams can cause thinning of the skin if used long-term.
Also, you may be frustrated by the scaly flakes of eczema, but resist picking at them. “It’s best to moisturize rather than try to remove them,” says Wu. Scrubbing or peeling off the flakes is likely to irritate the skin and cause more itching. “Plus, you may end up removing new skin that’s attached to the scaly flakes, causing bleeding and creating an opening that may allow bacteria to enter.”
Remember that eczema symptoms may change as you age. Check in regularly with your dermatologist who can help keep your eczema skin care routine individualized for your changing needs, introduce you to newer treatment products, and help you sort through cleansers and moisturizers to find the best ones for you.
Suffer From Eczema? Here’s How To Approach Your Skincare Routine
The dry, itchy patches on skin; the redness; and the unpredictability – having eczema is a tough gig. However, as difficult as this skin beast may be to manage, understanding where its weaknesses lie and addressing them with the right cocktail of intelligent skincare can help ease and calm ravaged skin. As National Eczema Week draws to a close, Vogue breaks down the ideal skincare routine for eczema sufferers.
What actually is eczema?
Defined by distinct patches of rough, dry skin that is often red and scaly, eczema is a non-contagious skin condition that is sometimes referred to as atopic dermatitis. Often its most distressing symptom is a gnawing itch that accompanies these patches, which can appear all over the body. “When eczema is very active, it may also become moist, crusted or weepy,” says dermatologist Dr Justine Kluk. “The skin can also eventually become thicker and darker in areas that are repeatedly scratched.” Atopic eczema is the most common form of the skin condition, though others include contact dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis.
What causes eczema?
There is no official ‘cause’ of eczema, but scientists suspect that it is a byproduct of the immune system’s reaction to external aggressors. Genetics has its role too. “Eczema tends to run in families so if one or both parents are sufferers, it’s more likely that their children will develop it too,” says Kluk. While one in five children suffer with the condition, stats show that by their teenage years, a huge 60 per cent of early sufferers become clear-skinned. “Exposure to allergens and infection with certain bacteria can lead to flare-ups, and there is some evidence to suggest that stress can lower the threshold for a flare-up too,” says Kluk. Extremely hot or cold weather, illness, dust and pets can also trigger a resurgence.
What ingredients can irritate eczema?
Bad eczema episodes can be triggered by anything too aggressive or full of chemicals; soaps, detergents, foaming agents and fragrances can all exacerbate it. “It’s also best to avoid any active skincare ingredients on areas affected by eczema,” says Kluk. “That includes retinol and alpha hydroxy acids.”
What should a good skincare routine look like for eczema-prone skin?
“Eczema is characterised by skin barrier dysfunction,” says Kluk, highlighting the crux of what a clever eczema skincare routine should set out to do: reinforce and take care of that skin barrier.
First thing’s first: emollient therapy. “This means cleansing twice daily with a soap substitute and frequently – and liberally – applying moisturiser,” says Kluk who suggests applying an emollient up to three times each day. In general, the dryer skin is, the greasier your emollient should be. “Moisturising helps restore the integrity of the skin barrier so it should be a fundamental part of an eczema sufferer’s skincare routine, even when flare-ups have been put to rest.”
Kluk’s top tip is to monitor the general quality of skin. If it is dry in some places and oily in others, look to using a lighter moisturiser gel or fluid cream on the areas where skin is oilier and a richer cream or ointment on areas where skin is drier. As for SPF – you can’t get away that easily – it’s still important to use where possible, but as most eczema sufferers will know, it can be difficult to tolerate. Kluk recommends testing a few different formulas on a small area first to ensure they don’t sting or further irritate skin. “Look for mineral or physical sunscreens, and those labelled suitable for sensitive skin.”
What are the best creams for eczema?
The Best Cleansers For Eczema
As Kluk recommends, look for soap substitutes. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is a dermatologist favourite Dermol can be bought over the counter and used as both a moisturiser and cleanser; and Kora Organics Gentle Cleanser brings a little glamour to proceedings. For body, look to Aveeno’s Moisturising Body Wash.
The Best Moisturisers For Eczema
With hyaluronic acid and barrier rebuilding ceramides, CeraVe’s Moisturising Cream is an excellent option; Uriage’s Xémose Universal Emollient Cream helps replenish lipids while Avène’s Xera Calm Cream helps alleviate the hellish itch.
The Best SPF For Eczema
La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Ultra Comfort Cream SPF50 has been designed specifically for sensitive skin.
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January 25, 2018 – 12:41 GMT Victoria Hutton Eczema causes and treatment: how a dermatologist healed my skin. Discover possible causes, treatment and skincare routine to cure eczema
This is an excerpt from my rock bottom of 2017: “I no longer recognise myself – physically or (worse) as the person I used to be: happy, confident, always glass-half-full.” And this is how a stranger put me back together. I was four months into the worst eczema flare up I’d ever known when I met Justine Hextall, a dermatologist with over ten years’ experience. By this point, I’d almost gotten used to having people’s eyes on my skin – strangers staring at me on the tube, well-meaning colleagues asking if I’d been burned – as I sunk further within myself. Almost.
What had started as small and angry, peculiarly-defined patches of red on my wrists had spread to my arms and across my back, up my neck and, finally, over my face. GPs hadn’t been able to help me – in fact, in several appointments, I’d watched them Google which steroids to give me next – and a walk-in centre sent me away without even looking at my skin, having prescribed me antibiotics and drowsy pills that I didn’t want to take.
Victoria consulted dermatologist Justine Hextall after suffering a severe eczema flare up
RELATED: 7 dermatologist tips for managing eczema
Looking back at the weeks that followed, I wish I hadn’t spent so much time misdiagnosing myself and coming up with new action plans based on my own medical knowledge (which is zero, FYI). I just desperately wanted to believe the wellness industry and its promise that these things are all treatable with smoothies and self-care. In reality, I’d never been less relaxed or more restricted with what I could eat/wear/do. It was also quickly draining my bank account – turns out that buying 100% silk or cotton of everything is expensive…
Formerly confident, I no longer wanted to stand close enough to people to have a conversation for fear that they’d be disgusted by my flaking face. My mood was getting lower and I had few remaining vices; sweating off my frustration in the gym made the redness flare, and even aimless scrolling on social media bombarded me with images of perfect skin. I felt equal parts a victim of my own body and guilty for even complaining; I knew far, far worse things are faced by people every day, but this was my every day and it showed no sign of relenting. I was desperate.
The eczema on Victoria’s hands before and after treatment
So when Justine diagnosed me within 30-seconds of meeting me, I blubbed. This wasn’t about stress, or diet, or the changing of the seasons – it was a very specific type of skin infection triggering a flare which, she assured me, with a bit of time, was all entirely treatable. Eczema progress ebbs and flows as the skin heals and adapts, so I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but she doesn’t make promises she can’t keep. After a month, not only had the infection and the eczema gone away, but I’d gotten my glow back from two game-changing skincare brands on her recommendation.
Now, for the first time ever, people are grilling me for my skincare secrets: I start every day by treating my face to a cleanse and tone with the La Roche Posay Toleriane trio, and nourishing my skin with Avene shower oil and body cream. Never really the pampering type, I’ve been converted by the five-minute magic of the Avene face mask, and I won’t go to sleep without first applying the La Roche Posay night cream.
MORE: Treating baby eczema – tips from the experts
From this most literal of battles in finding comfort in your own skin, I learned the importance of seeing someone who knows what they’re talking about – forgoing Google and miracle recovery stories for an expert opinion – and, even better, someone who understands you. Justine could tell this was a physical ailment and so much more. By taking away the guesswork and the guilt, she left me with one job: to follow simple instructions. And so, just five weeks after our first meeting – having been on-hand throughout – I sent Justine a makeup-free selfie of a me that I actually recognised: happy.
Justine’s treatment has transformed Victoria’s skin
Justine says: “When I first consulted with you, firstly I was struck by the longevity of your skin eruption despite using topical steroids for weeks. Secondly your distress was palpable and the impact on your day to day life was significant – I really wanted to help you! You were able to show me several pictures of your evolving skin rash and I noticed how well demarcated the annular skin lesions were. Your facial rash looked very inflamed but again there was a definite edge and sharp cut off. Although you had the classic distribution of eczema and a long history of this skin diagnosis, I didn’t want to assume anything.”
She added: “Two facts were striking: When you were in a hot climate the rash became much more pronounced. Secondly, on direct questioning you admitted that when the steroid was applied the centre cleared but the outside edge, if anything became for pronounced. I knew that applying steroid cream to a fungal or yeast infection could produce this reaction.
Watch for Justine Hextall’s advice on the causes and treatment for eczema
RELATED: See the latest skincare features here
“I decided to treat you with anti-fungal cream at first to see the response and then add in a combination of anti-fungal cream and steroid to reduce the inflammation as there was clearly also an underlying eczema that had flared. I had to walk a careful line between treating infection and also reducing the skin inflammation.
“Immediately the skin became less red and, as the inflammation and swelling settled the skin became dry and peeling as you might see after a sunburn. To this end I made sure I recommended the gentlest cleanser and hydrating moisturiser to start to repair the skin barrier. I recommended the Toleriane range by La Roche Posay as it is specifically formulated for sensitive skin. Watching your skin improve and with that seeing how buoyed you were was fantastic. I feel you now a have an excellent skin regime that is keeping your skin calm and hydrated – and crucially protecting your skin barrier- hence your fantastic healthy glow!”
Whilst it is common for eczema to appear on babies, it can develop at any point in a person’s life. with eczema prone skin there is often structural changes to the skin barrier , as such individuals are less likely to have and maintain properly hydrated skin and may also be more prone to contact irritants and infection.
Whilst for many it may be a long-term skin condition to manage, for others it may arise as a one-off reaction to particular chemicals or fragrances.
Different types of eczema
There are different types of eczema , for example atopic eczema that is common in childhood and often associated with hay fever and asthma. Irritant eczema can arise for example in those that are frequently washing hands e.g. hairdressers , new mothers etc. If an allergic product is put onto skin this can cause what is referred to as contact eczema. Common allergens include perfumes, nickel, hair dye and preservatives.
Steroid creams – how long can you use them for?
Steroid creams are a common treatment for eczema, with different strengths prescribed depending on the thickness of the skin in the area you are treating (the fine areas on your face, for example, will be prescribed a lower percentage of steroid). They are typically prescribed to be used over a few days / weeks rather than for prolonged period. It is common to start with a stronger steroid for a short period to rapidly reduce the inflammation followed by a weaker steroid to reduce the risk of a rebound flair.
Justine’s recommendation is to ensure that you complete the time period prescribed to you, applying the creams even if the symptoms disappear during this time – this is known as treating beyond the point of “clinical clearance”. By treating it in this way there is less risk of a rebound flair. Prolonged use of steroids can result in thinning of the skin and in some cases stretch marks can develop. If you are prescribed additional steroid cream use by your doctor or dermatologist, it is usually recommended that your skin is afforded a break between treatments. If you are unsure, check with your doctor and do not use for prolonged periods without expert advice.
Diet changes: foods to avoid if you have eczema
Justine’s advice is to pursue a healthy, balanced diet – filled with fresh fruits and vegetables and foods that are rich in antioxidants to keep your skin healthy. If you suspect that certain ingredients (such as caffeine, alcohol, dairy, or acidic foods like tomatoes) are irritating your skin, start by keeping a food diary over a two-week period and noting any reactions. You can then eliminate those foods for a short period to see if there is an improvement.
Lifestyle changes: what you can do to ease eczema symptoms
Create barriers to irritants – like wearing rubber gloves to avoid direct contact with washing up liquid or cleaning products. If you have eczema on your eyelids, applying a layer of moisturiser before showering or washing your hair can help stop irritating products from making direct contact with inflamed skin. Cotton sheets and clothing is often more comfortable on the skin and allows it to breathe, whereas other manmade fibres can trap in heat and moisture (the perfect conditions in for an irritation or infection to develop).
How Hyaluronic Acid Benefits Skin
Hyaluronic Acid’s Anti-Aging Benefits
Hyaluronic acid’s moisture-binding characteristic is exceptionally important when it comes to skin aging. When we’re young, our skin can hold onto water and retain a balanced amount of moisture, but it loses this ability as we age. The result is a visible loss of firmness, pliability, and a diminished appearance of plumpness and suppleness (hello, wrinkles). Simply put, hyaluronic acid has powerful anti-aging properties.
Unprotected sun exposure and environmental assault weaken skin’s surface and cause premature aging. Hopefully you already know that daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen and avoiding harsh skin care ingredients is a must for combating these things, but you might not know that hyaluronic acid’s antioxidant and skin-replenishing properties go a long way toward mitigating those issues, too (especially when used as part of a complete anti-aging skin care routine that also includes other research-backed ingredients). Now that’s what we call a multitasking anti-aging ingredient!
Hyaluronic Acid and Sodium Hyaluronate
In addition to hyaluronic acid, you may have seen the similarly named sodium hyaluronate on a skin care product’s ingredient list. Not surprisingly, these two ingredients are related: sodium hyaluronate is a salt that’s derived from hyaluronic acid. Sodium hyaluronate is helpful in the same way that hyaluronic acid for skin is, but with one extra advantage— skin absorbs it more easily than it does hyaluronic acid.
Does that mean that sodium hyaluronate is better than hyaluronic acid? No! In fact, the Paula’s Choice philosophy is that it’s great if products such as hyaluronic acid moisturizers and creams contain both forms of the ingredient, so your skin can reap the benefits on multiple levels. There are some products on the market that contain both ingredients, but because hyaluronic acid is more expensive, sodium hyaluronate shows up more often in skin care products.
Note: Some companies use what’s called “low molecular weight” hyaluronic acid, which has a smaller molecule than regular hyaluronic acid. Molecules of “regular” hyaluronic acid are larger, which explains why they remain on skin’s surface. Making hyaluronic acid smaller means it can reach a bit farther into skin’s uppermost layers for visibly enhanced results.
How to Use Hyaluronic Acid in Your Skin Care Routine (When and Where to Use It)
Now that you know how hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate can benefit skin, you might be wondering how we’ve chosen to incorporate these research-backed ingredients into our products. Paula’s Choice Skincare often includes both forms of these hero humectants in moisturizer, serum, toner, and face mask formulations, so you have a variety of ways to add hyaluronic acid to your skin care routine.
Hyaluronic acid is incredibly gentle and phenomenally helpful for all skin types, even the most sensitive, redness-prone skin. In fact, its positive influence on skin’s surface is due in part to its natural calming benefit, which means it is also suitable for breakout-prone skin. Each of the following fragrance-free formulas contain redness-reducing, hydrating, and antioxidant ingredients that make skin smooth and soft, and they’re gentle enough even for those with eczema-prone and rosacea-prone skin.
With a silky, lightweight texture that’s perfect for all skin types, our Hyaluronic Acid Booster is indispensable for its hydrating, line-smoothing formula, supported by ceramides to reinforce skin’s natural barrier. Apply directly to skin after cleansing, toning, and exfoliating, or mix into your favorite serum or moisturizer.
Those with dry to very dry skin will find our RESIST Intensive Repair Cream’s rich, retinol-spiked formula is ideal for a daily (and/or nightly) dose of wrinkle-softening hydration from sodium hyaluronate, ceramides, and peptides.
If achieving radiant, glowing skin overnight is one of your skin care goals, you’ll appreciate our RADIANCE Renewal Mask’s lush gel texture and innovative formula of skin-plumping sodium hyaluronate plus brightening antioxidants niacinamide and vitamin c, and well-researched hydrating ingredients.
If you struggle with blemishes and are on the hunt for the best moisturizer for acne-prone skin, look no further than our CLEAR Oil-Free Moisturizer. Its sheer lotion texture features sodium hyaluronate, ceramides, and blueberry extract to provide hydration and soothe redness.
Our DEFENSE Nightly Reconditioning Moisturizer prevents premature aging with a refreshing, all-skin-types formula loaded with antioxidants, superfoods, and sodium hyaluronate that strengthens skin’s defenses overnight.
Pair any of the above with our RESIST Brightening Essence which uses natural plant-based extracts to banish dull skin and improve uneven skin tone while supplying skin with hyaluronic acid’s many benefits.
Hyaluronic Acid Oral Supplements
What about hyaluronic acid supplements? Does oral intake deliver visible results? A growing body of research says yes! It turns out oral intake of hyaluronic acid can make it to the skin, where it helps the lower layers influence what happens and becomes visible on skin’s surface. Amounts of 120-150 milligrams per day have been shown to increase skin’s hydration, aid in the transport of nutrients in skin, visibly improve elasticity, and complement the plumping, wrinkle-smoothing results topical hyaluronic acid provides.
Interesting fact: As we age, our skin’s natural content of hyaluronic acid drops dramatically. People between the ages of 19 and 47 have twice as much hyaluronic acid in their skin as those in their 50s and 60s. As we age into our 70s, that amount drops even further, making hyaluronic acid supplements even more important, as they help replace what skin loses with the passage of time (and of course, cumulative sun damage hastens this and other skin-aging processes).
Learn more about boosters.
References for This Information:
International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, December 2018, pages 1,682-1,695
Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology, August 2017, pages 311-315
The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, March 2014, pages 27-29
Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, October 2012, pages 20–23; and March 2009, pages 38–43
Dermato-endocrinology, July 2012, pages 253–258
Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, September 2011, pages 990–1000
International Journal of Toxicology, July–August 2009, pages 5–67
Who Is Hyaluronic Acid Best For?
One of the best things about hyaluronic acid is that it can benefit all skin types. It’s obviously great for dry and mature skin due to its hydrating and anti-aging properties, but it can also help oily complexions. Oily and combination skin types still need hydration, and the lightweight formulation of hyaluronic acid is perfect as it feels weightless on the skin, whilst still providing the much-needed moisture.
Hyaluronic acid is also for sensitive and blemish-prone skin as it helps to calm skin, whilst protecting it with its antioxidant properties. It can also be used safely during pregnancy.
Are There Any Drawbacks Of Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic acid is found naturally in the body, so there are no proven side effects to applying it topically. However, because hyaluronic acid’s natural purpose is not for hydration, the molecules are often too big for skin absorption. Some brands claim hydration benefits through hyaluronic acid but actually, the product is just sitting on the skin drawing out moisture for temporary benefits.
With The Ordinary and The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, they use three forms of hyaluronic acid in varying molecular weights to ensure it is absorbed providing full hydration, and not just temporary effects.
What Other Ingredients Does Hyaluronic Acid Work Best With?
Alpha hydroxyl acids provoke skin cell turnover to help exfoliate skin for a brighter and more even skin tone. However, these acids can be drying on the skin, so including hyaluronic acid is a great way to enjoy the benefits of AHA’s without dehydrating the skin. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA is a good example of this.
Hyaluronic acid also works well alongside other anti-aging ingredients such as vitamin C. The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% contains vitamin C in its purest form which brightens and aids collagen production. This pairing together encourages and protects collagen, whilst hydrating and brightening aging skin.
Where And How Should I Use Hyaluronic Acid?
Like with any new skincare product, you should start slow with hyaluronic acid, applying it once per day to see how your skin takes to it. If you find your skin is really benefiting from the additional hydration, you should apply it once in the morning and once in the evening. The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 is water-based so should be applied before heavy oils and creams, all over the face.
Many products from The Ordinary contain hyaluronic acid to keep the skin rehydrated. You can browse the entire range on Adore Beauty to build your perfect skincare routine.
It also “plumps and adds volume to your skin cells to make your skin more radiant and smooth,” says Jessica Weiser, M.D., a dermatologist at New York Dermatology Group. H.A. is also a popular ingredient for facial fillers. “We use hyaluronic acid fillers to replace volume, create lift, and make the contours of the face more youthful,” says Weiser.
How do use hyaluronic acid?
Humectants like hyaluronic acid typically have a watery texture and absorb quickly (think liquidy serums), whereas emollients (i.e., creams and oils) are thicker and stay more on your skin’s surface, don’t absorb as quickly, and work to lock everything in. Hyaluronic acid is often combined with other runny humectants (like glycerin and urea) and water. The water part is important: “It gets bound by the hyaluronic acid and then delivered to your skin,” says Schultz. “This is one of the ways hyaluronic functions as the greatest moisturizing ingredient ever.”
But here’s the thing to remember with humectants: It’s important to combine or layer them with more emollient textures, as the thicker products will work to maintain the moisture the humectant provides. “They seal in moisture that is already there so it doesn’t evaporate,” says Schultz. A good rule of thumb: You’ll want to top off an H.A. serum with an oil or a cream to make the results last. Most creams, on the other hand, already have both humectants and emollients (we like BeautyRX Soothing Moisture Cream), so they’re okay to apply alone. (Or, if your skin is super oily, a serum may be enough.) I personally always use both—serums because they have more powerful levels of active ingredients, and then a cream as a veil of protection. Vargas also points out that regular exfoliation is key for getting the most out of your products. Hyaluronic acid absorbs so much better if you don’t have a layer of dead skin cells sitting on the surface.
What are the best hyaluronic acid serums?
Good Q. Here are all the top-recommended products that deliver H.A., and which will work best for your skin type or concern.