Dec 08, 2005|
As an eczema sufferer, I dread the morning before a party. What if my skin acts like a cranky child? What if everything I do to soothe it only irritates it more? It’s not bad enough that Hong Kong’s combination of pollution, air conditioning and stress cause a carousel of skin problems, but now I have to contend with wintry weather too. Dermatologist Dr. Henry Chan explains: “When the weather turns colder and dryer, the dryness in the skin is exacerbated. It could lead to dry patches and flare-ups for eczema suffers.” So much for the season for joy and cheer.
In the case of an eczema flare-up, see a skin specialist. He or she will no doubt recommend, in addition to medication, a few days of relaxation, light eating and avoidance of harmful substances such as alcohol and cigarettes. You can also check into a spa for a facial. The Elemis Oxygen SkinCalm facial at Frederique Spa is specifically designed for sensitive skin. It finishes with a Japanese silk paper mask that matches the skin’s texture to better deliver an oxygen serum, reduce redness and comfort stressed skin. Spa manager Gladys Cheung insists her clients see a dermatologist before undertaking the treatment to stock up on the appropriate medications and ointments.
Routine checks are the best way to prevent flare-ups and breakouts. Besides practicing a skin-friendly lifestyle, you can adjust your beauty routine in small ways, such as using a gentle muslin facecloth instead of a coarse flannel. Avoid over-scrubbing the skin, which can cause irritations leading to a breakout. And don’t forget to clean your skin first before applying moisturizers or ointments. Try the compact, preservative-free Avene Thermal Water spritzer. Avoid using facemasks - products that contain water also contain preservatives to prevent bacteria and fungal growth, which can irritate your eczema. Instead, opt for a powder mask that you mix yourself. Organic Pharmacy’s Flower Petal Mask is entirely handmade and 100 percent preservative-free. Cheung from Frederique recommends Elemis’ Papaya Enzyme Peel, which contains natural fruit enzymes.
If you’re recovering from an eczema breakout, avoid returning to your usual beauty products immediately. The medicated ointments used to treat the breakout leave your skin far too sensitive for most over-the-counter products. Finding the products that work for you is largely a matter of trial or error, but www.talkeczema.com has a great forum for suggestions. Be scrupulous when testing new skin products. Dr. Chan recommends applying the product behind your ear for a week to check your sensitivity to it. The city’s beauty counters don’t often hand out samples, but SaSa Cosmetics sells trial sizes of the more reputable brands. Also, bear in mind that some products may work only for a limited time until the skin’s immunity adapts to it.
If you have very troublesome eczema, try to avoid cosmetics altogether. If you absolutely must wear makeup, reduce the quantities of the cosmetics by mixing a safe moisturizer with a little of MAC’s Green Color Corrector ($120 from Faces in Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui). This will reduce redness. Use blush and eye shadow in powder form, rather than cream, since creams use preservative chemicals (that’s irritants to you). Eye shadow can also be diluted with mineral water and painted on with an eyeliner brush. Not all eye shadows are water soluble, however, so check at the counter and test before you buy.
Dermatologically Tested: the product has been tested on human skin and reached a certain level of safety or effectiveness. However, there are no industry standards on how a product must be tested and the results it needs to achieve
Hypoallergenic: The manufacturer believes the product is less likely to cause an allergic reaction than others. There are no requirements to substantiate the claim.
Unscented: This does not mean the product is fragrance-free. It may contain a fragrance to mask chemical odors.
Fragrance-free: No fragrance has been added to the product.
Natural: Ingredients are extracted directly from plants or animal products, instead of being produced synthetically. This does not necessarily mean they will not irritate your skin.
Frederique Spa, 4/F Wilson House, 19-27 Wyndham St., Central, 2522-3054, www.spaforlife.com.hk.
Harvey Nichols, 15 Queen's Rd. Central, 3695-3388.
L'Occitane, 1/F Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty.