Korean Beauty and Eczema
Struggling with eczema? Stick around because in today’s listener requested episode, we’re tackling the need to know about this skin condition and how you can incorporate Korean Beauty products into your arsenal to deal with it.
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This was another requested episode from a long-time listener of the show.Having eczema necessitates a few changes to your beauty routine, as well as the vetting process for introducing new products to your skin.
Eczema is a chronic skin condition caused by weak skin, and results in allergens being able to enter the body more easily. If you suffer from eczema, you’ll be all-too-familiar with the dryness, flaky skin and redness that goes hand-in-hand with this often painful skin condition.
If you suffer from eczema, adopt a three-pronged approach to introducingany new products to your skincare routine –
1 First, perform a severe allergy test – this involves using a tiny amount of the new product on the inner corner of your arm for one hour. If you don’t experience any adverse reactions from this, move onto the second test.
2 Try a 48 hour patch test – this involves re-applying a coin-sized amount of the product onto your arm several times a day for a 48 hour period. Watch out for any reactions, but if your skin handles this as well, you can move onto introducing the product to your face.
3 Try using the product on half of your face (only) for a month. If you experience any symptoms, immediately discontinue using it.
As eczema results from a weakened skin barrier, it’s essential to opt for low pH soaps and face washes, body washes and shampoo/conditioner.pH balanced products support the skin’s protective barrier function, and ensure it stays balanced so that it can fight bacteria and infection.
The basic rule: anything you put on your skin that is higher or lower than its natural pH will raise or lower the skin’s pH as well. This is why it’s best to opt for products that are between a pH 5.5 to 7. For more on the importance of pH balanced products, visit the STYLE STORY Blog.
Bubble baths are extremely drying and potentially irritating to people with eczema. Skip them in favour of bath oils, which help coat and protect the skin and prevent dryness.
Soap is alkaline and very drying to skin with eczema. Detergent base soap-substitutes should also be avoided as they tend to irritate skin with eczema. Instead, opt for non-foaming soap substitutes that are fragrance free.
Eczema sufferers are usually well advised to avoid harsh anionic surfactants (such as sulphates and olefin sulfonates), drying alcohols, fragrances and most essential oils. Caution is also recommended with chemical sunscreens.
On the other hand, urea and glycerin are both known to play nicely with eczema-prone skin.
Some of my other favourite ingredients, which you’ll frequently find in K-Beauty products, include:
Aloe vera can help soothe eczema in the same way it soothes and nourishes burnt skin.
Although it’s not for everyone, many eczema sufferers find that Korean beauty products containingsnail mucin can assist with their flare-ups. Be sure to patch test to confirm that snail works for your skin.
There is a difference between products that won’taggravate eczema and help relieve some of the symptoms of it vs products that claim tocure the condition itself.
Because eczema is a recognised medical condition, in many countries (including Australia) there are laws around the types of statements that can be made for products claiming to “cure” eczema. The product must have test data to back up any claims made, and in Australia, these types of products are regulated by the TGA as a medicine (i.e. products with a therapeutic benefit)
In order to make claims about a product curing eczema, the product must be listed with the TGA. Unfortunately, there are many companies out there making claims about their products’ ability to treat eczema (either directly or via photos in their social media marketing) that are actually in breach of the law because the product is not listed on the ARTG.
On the other hand, there are regular cosmetic products that may help with some of the symptoms of eczema (such as dryness etc without actually claiming to “treat” or “heal” the condition itself).
I’m going to focus my recommendations on the latter, because the medical treatments for eczema itself are best left to doctors. Many will require a prescription.
No Korean Beauty products that I know of are listed on the ARTG as cures for eczema, in the same way that no Koreansunscreens are listed for sale.
Given that dry skin is one of the main symptoms of eczema, emollients are one of the best things for it. Changes in skin moisture levels affect the skin’s barrier, which in turn increases water loss, thus allowing the penetration of irritants and allergens which trigger eczema.
Itching is another major symptom of eczema. If you scratch it, this damages your skin and allows for irritants, allergens and bacteria to enter the skin, which trigger eczema.
Emollients soothe and relieve the itch, producing an oily layer over the skin surface which traps water beneath it.
By restoring the skin’s barrier function, emollients can prevent the penetration of irritants, allergens and bacteria thereby reducing or preventing the development of eczema.
Products that can help alleviate the dryness associated with eczema include:
pH Balanced Products include:
If all else fails and you end up with a flare-up, try soaking in an oatmeal bath (with 2-3 cups of finely ground oatmeal). Once you’re out of the tub, use an ice pack to lessen the inflammation and soothe any itchiness. If severe flare-ups persist, prescription medication and antihistamines may be options to talk about with your doctor.
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"There is a difference between products that won’t aggravate eczema and help relieve some of the symptoms of it vs products that claim to cure the condition itself."- Lauren Lee, Founder of STYLE STORY
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