The Best Makeup for Eczema
Facial eczema is perhaps people with eczema’s worst fear. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it’s also difficult to hide. “When you have a rash on your face, it can impact your quality of life, self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, and even performance at school and work,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
What’s more, facial eczema is often more difficult to manage than outbreaks on other body parts, says dermatologist Ellen Marmur M.D., an associate clinical professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai hospital in New York City. “The skin on the face suffers the most exposure to daily skincare routines, makeup, sweat, temperature extremes, perfumes, and other environmental chemicals so facial eczema is sometimes the most common area to flare up,” she says.
In case you need a quick refresher: Eczema refers to several different types of skin swelling for which there is treatment but no cure. It’s not contagious, and symptoms tend to come and go. “Eczema may be caused by a genetic weakness of the skin or external factors like weather, irritating skincare products, or skin allergies,” says Dr. Zeichner, M.D. “Patients typically develop red, itchy, flaky patches, most commonly found inside the elbows and behind the knees, though it can appear anywhere on the body.”
But all is not lost, especially if your eczema shows up on your face. With carefully chosen products, you can tone down the flare-ups without worrying about making them worse. We asked board-certified dermatologists to recommend their favorites for moody skin.
A Hardworking Primer
Go for a primer that does double duty: conceals redness and works as a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which is less irritating than a chemical sunscreen, recommends Rita Linkner, M.D., of Spring Street Dermatology in New York City.
Try: Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer ($54, sephora.com) “It’s also oil-free, which is a plus,” she says.
A Gentle But Effective Concealer
A pure-pigment product will conceal imperfections but not cause inflammation or irritation that may come from other ingredients, says Dendy Engelman, M.D., of Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in New York City.
Try: Dermablend Quick Fix Concealer ($26, ulta.com) “It’s specifically formulated for those with underlying dermatologic conditions like vitiligo, birthmarks, and scars,” she says.
A Lightweight Tinted Moisturizer
Dr. Zeichner advises staying away from heavy foundations that may be difficult to remove. “Makeup removal can be extremely harsh on the skin and even provoke an eczema flare,” he notes. Tinted moisturizers give coverage without cake-iness.
Try: Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer ($46, lauramercier.com). Dr. Marmur recommends this non-comedogenic and dermatologist- and allergy-tested formula that works on all skin types, even sensitive ones.
A Hydrating Liquid Foundation
Dr. Marmur advises using products that hydrate since those with matte finishes can make your skin look dry.
Try: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($64, sephora.com). She likes this industry favorite, which provides buildable coverage that’s still lightweight and radiant.
A Powder Foundation That Protects
Dr. Linkner likes a mineral-based powder formula for people with eczema. “It creates a barrier from environmental stressors,” she says.
Try: Colorescience Pressed Powder Foundation ($55, colorescience.com). Dr. Linkner says that it will not irritate skin or clog pores.
A Tinted Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
When you need coverage plus protection, try a tinted mineral sunscreen that’s specially formulated for sensitive or redness-prone skin, suggests Howard Sobel, M.D., founder of Sobel Skin.
Try: Avene High Protection Tinted Compact SPF 50 ($36, aveneusa.com). The cream-to-powder formula features a high SPF and a photostable antioxidant.
An Oil-Infused Eye, Lip, and Cheek Palette
It’s not easy to find an oil-infused powder palette, but Dr. Zeichner notes that makeup containing coconut oil is a good choice because it's rich in linoleic acid, which helps hydrate the skin and can be used even by people who have oily skin or acne.
Try: Josie Maran Vibrancy Argan Oil Fresh Face Paint Palette ($42, qvc.com). This creamy eye, lip, and cheek palette contains coconut oil, argan oil, and fruit extracts for a full face look in a perfectly portable package.
A Color-Correcting Multi-Use Stick
Just because you have eczema doesn’t mean you have to miss out on makeup convenience! Look for products that are paraben-free and contain hyaluronic acid, along with vitamins C and E, suggests Dhaval Bhanusali, M.D., of Hudson Dermatology and Laser Surgery in New York City.
Try: Live Tinted Hue Stick ($24, livetinted.com). Dr. Bhanusali likes this eye, lip, and cheek multi-stick because it doubles as a color corrector in addition to a lip-and-cheek tint.
An Anti-Inflammatory Lip-and-Cheek Tint
Dr. Zeichner recommends products with arnica, which is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. It contains compounds that aid skin health, is used in many ointments and lotions for healing eczema, and helps soothe itching and irritation.
Try: Tata Harper Volumizing Lip & Cheek Tint ($39, sephora.com), which has a concentrated blend of arnica, borage, alfalfa, elderberry, meadowsweet, and calendula, a blend that provides moisture without irritation. (Arnica and alfalfa help with inflammation. Borage contains gamma-linenic acid, which promotes healthy skin. Tannins and viburnic acid in elderberries provide soothing properties. Both calendula and meadowsweet help with wound healing. The Very Popular hue is a warm rose that’s somewhere between a bronzer and a blush, or a blonzer.
A Moisturizing Lip Gloss
Eczema can affect even the lips. The condition is also called lip dermatitis or eczematous cheilitis, and leads to redness, drying, and scaling. You’ll want an occlusive product that contains purified petrolatum, Zeichner says.
Try: Kopari Coconut Lip Glossy in Birthday Suit ($13, sephora.com). Thanks to the coconut oil, this beige-tinged gloss smells like dessert and imparts a glassy shine.