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If you have eczema, you may already know that some cosmetics irritate your skin, but that’s no reason to give up on makeup.

Certain ingredients are gentle on sensitive skin -- especially the skin on your face and neck. Others may trigger a flare-up. The trick is to know the difference. 

What to Look for When You Have Eczema

1. Shea butter, glycerin, and lanolin. You may have dozens of lotions stashed under your bathroom sink, but none seem to dull the ongoing itch or smoothen your skin. Dermatologists that WebMD consulted suggest that you swap them out for creams that contain shea butter, glycerin, or lanolin. These moisturizing ingredients improve the appearance of your skin while also repairing it. Look for skin care products that list one of these first, second, or third on the ingredients list.

2. Hyaluronic acid.  While there’s no cure for eczema, you can reduce flaky, dry skin by using products infused with hyaluronic acid. This substance is found naturally in your body; it helps draw moisture from the air to your skin. Smooth on cream with hyaluronic acid to give your skin an extra boost of moisture.

3. Niacinamide. If red patches show through no matter how many layers of makeup you pile on, try a serum or cream that contains niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3). This ingredient can reduce redness from eczema by strengthening the skin’s barrier. Apply niacinamide cream first, before you put on cosmetics.

What to Avoid When You Have Eczema

1. Glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and retinol. Eczema is partly caused by a weak skin barrier, which lets irritants penetrate your skin more easily, and allows water to evaporate more easily. So it’s best to avoid products that either dry out skin or irritate it. Some of the worst – for people with eczema – are glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and retinol.

2. Preservatives. Preservatives like methylparaben or butylparaben help keep cosmetics and skin care products from going bad or growing bacteria. But they can also lead to inflammation, so avoid them if you have sensitive skin or eczema.  Try using products with natural preservatives like neem oil or grapefruit seed extract when possible -- they are less irritating.

3. Fragrance. 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 makeup and skin care products that are specifically formulated for sensitive skin (it will say so on the package). Look for products that don’t contain fragrances. The label should say “fragrance-free” rather than “unscented.”  Natural or organic products are also usually free of fragrances, but read labels to make sure.