Have you tried all sorts of creams and found that all they did was irritate your skin further and made your seb derm flare up even more?
It’s not your fault for getting so confused. Now a days, every brand has a line for sensitive skin. People on Reddit and Quora are spruiking what worked miracles for them.
But you try all these things and they never work for you.
In this article, I’ll unpack a skin care routine for seborrheic dermatitis. Not by telling you what product to buy, but by teaching you the principles of what to choose so you get a personalized routine going.
Let’s do it:
Seb Derm Skincare Golden Rules
Golden Rule 1
Thou shall only use products that does not irritate thy skin
Golden Rule 2
Thou shall use products that reduces Malassezia growth
Golden Rule 3
Keep it simple Sally (KISS) (the last S actually stood for stupid but I didn’t really want to call you that)
Obviously skincare is a little bit more complicated than 3 little rules. You also need to choose products that are suitable for your skin type, for the environment that you live in, etc. But if you remember these three rules, you will not go wrong with your seb derm.
Cleansers might not stay on your skin for long but they can sure do a lot of stripping. A harsh cleanser can remove your natural skin oils (sebum) and even scrub away the top layer of your skin (your skin barrier is of utmost importance to keep seb derm at bay).
My favorites are:
Moogoo Natural Milk Wash
Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser
These two brands are affordable and does the job. Before you buy any new ones, look at the ones you have at home. If you don’t think they are part of the problem, keep using them. You don’t need expensive cleansers, just gentle ones that don’t rub your skin the wrong way when they take away the grime.
You can use a gentle chemical exfoliant like salicylic acid (read about salicylic acid and seb derm) once a week or so but don’t use exfoliants daily. No matter how much you exfoliate the scales, it will come back because you’re starting the seb derm flare cyle all over again.
A serum is optional in any skincare routine but I’m such a huge fan of serums because they pack so much punch. I’ve found hyaluronic acid, niacimide and bakuchiol serums (not all at once) a wonderful addition to my skincare regimen. These serums focus on repair and replenish, always good when your skin is inflammed.
The ones I’ve used and liked are:
The Ordinary Niacimide 10% and Zinc 1%
Gaia Bakuchiol Serum
You know how retinol always dries your skin out and make it crawl? Bakuchiol is the gentle, natural alternative to retinol for those of us with seb derm and aging skin. Hallelujah!
I like to joke that the only people who would have antifungal cream in their skincare routine are seb derm sufferers but it’s woefully true. No one else needs to put antifungal cream on their face, except people with fungal acne. Who also tends to have seb derm.
Your antifungal cream is the holy grail and a must-have for everyone with seb derm. During a flare, apply antifungal cream twice a day for 2 weeks. Then, use it as needed whenever you can feel a flare starting.
Hands down my favorite antifungal cream is clotrimazole because it’s over-the-counter and it works:
If you want a comparison of all the antifungal creams available, like ketoconazole, miconazole, etc. check out What is the best antifungal cream for seborrheic dermatitis?
Your choice of moisturizer is where a lot of people get tripped up. Many moisturizers contain ingredients that can irritate the skin, encourage Malassezia growth and is either too light or too heavy for you, causing oily skin.
Unfortunately, you’ll need to do this by trial and error. There is no one magic moisturizer that suits all skin. Some principles to live by when you’re choosing your moisturizer include:
- choose moisturizers with natural ingredients, devoid of parabens, synthetic preservatives and the like.
- if it contains skin-loving ingredients like ceramides, niacimide and hyaluronic acid, even better.
- choose ones that don’t contain large amounts of oils that fuel Malassezia growth (the list here)
Chances are you already have a load of moisturizers at home. Look at their ingredient list and pull out the ones you think are ‘safe’ to use. Try them out and really notice how your skin feels after an application. If a moisturizer makes your skin crawl, itch, or burn, give it away. If it leaves your skin oily and heavy, that’s a no-go too.
Keep in mind that you may need to use different moisturizers depending on the seb derm phase you’re in. For example, I use Moogoo Scalp Cream (it’s amazing for the face I swear) when my face is red and inflammed because it’s the only one that doesn’t sting. Once the flare is over, I often use a ‘repair and replenish’ moisturizer for maintenance.
You can also mix in a few drops of essential oil to your moisturizer for more skin love. I have a whole list of essential oils that can help seb derm, either my reducing Malassezia or by calming the inflammation.
A broad spectrum sun-screen is super important, not just for seb derm sufferers but for everyone. I’m not going to go through all the benefits of sunscreen. You’ve heard it enough.
One thing I will say though. I bet you’ve heard that the sun is good for seb derm. It’s true, but not for reasons you may think. I learnt this the hard way by going out into the sun without sunscreen during a flare with the hopes that the sun will kill all the Malassezia on my face. It obviously didn’t work and made my face burn even more because I had a bad sunburn on top of a bad flare.
Calming Makeup Remover
Whether or not you wear makeup during a flare is up to you. I did, then I didn’t. Read Makeup for seborrheic dermatitis if you’re interested.
If you do wear makeup, make sure you use a gentle makeup remover. My favorites are:
The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser
Desert Essence Cucumber & Aloe Micellar Water
Powerful Overnight Masks
I love face masks but end up never using them because I’m so busy during the day. When I discovered overnight masks, my life changed! What an awesome way to help your skin repair while you sleep! To be clear, just because you have seb derm doesn’t mean you need to use masks. BUT THEY ARE SO GOOD!
My all time faves:
NIOD Voicemail Masque
Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask
These are my current favorites but I have a few. I’m sure you have your faves too. Let me know in the comments so we can all try them too!
Skincare is important in preventing seb derm but there are other factors you need to address. Check out this article next: How To Prevent Seborrheic Dermatitis
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