“How an affordable moisturiser got rid of my under-eye eczema”

Posted by for Beauty

After numerous GP appointments and spending a small fortune on treatments that didn’t work, Stylist contributor Jacqueline Kilikita finally found a remedy for her eczema in a tub of £16 cream.

Those with eczema know all too well how irritating it is to live with.

First there’s the itching followed by the tightness, redness, chapping and the awful burning sensation. What makes it even worse? When it crops up on one of the most sensitive and fragile areas of skin – under the eyes. Suddenly, the above symptoms are joined by hayfever-esque puffiness and a team of deep lines that make you look like you haven’t had a good sleep in years. Unfortunately, I’m in that camp.

Typically, eczema isn’t something that we address much in the beauty industry. Unlike acne or rosacea, there aren’t many readily available products or treatments that target the issue, so I did the only thing I’d ever really known and made an appointment with my GP.

My first prescription was Diprobase, a super-thick emollient cream that deposits a layer of oil on the surface of the skin to prevent water loss and make skin feel less dry. But as someone who is also prone to acne, slathering it on nightly only broke me out in spots.

It also contains paraffin oils, which not only smell pretty suffocating but are also flammable, and that really put me off. After a month or so of putting up with the condition, I went back to my GP and came away with Dermol, yet another (paraffin-laden) emollient lotion, which only made my skin greasy, sticky and just generally uncomfortable.

Not happy with my doctor’s help, I finally booked an appointment with a dermatologist, who prescribed me a cream I’d never tried before: Elidel 1%, which contains the active ingredient pimecrolimus to treat the inflammation, redness and itching that are the result of eczema. Getting my hands on it was no mean feat, though. My nearest pharmacies had trouble calling it in, and when it did arrive, it cost me over £25 for a 30g tube. 

Still hopeful, I applied it every night before bed, and while it helped stop the parched patches from cropping up, it took time and patience and often made the skin around my eyes feel like it was aflame. Content with the fact that my eczema was nowhere near as bad as it had been, I decided to take a break from it, but like every time before that, it came back with a vengeance.

It wasn’t until I discovered CeraVe – an American skincare range that made it’s way to the UK a couple of years ago – that I found a better solution than all of the above combined. The product in question? The Moisturising Cream, £16. As a beauty journalist, I get sent a lot of products with pretty labels and bold claims, but CeraVe is different in the sense that it isn’t at all ostentatious or shouty. The packaging is minimal and the ingredients list is even more humble. The proof is in the pudding – and my skin – as to how effective it is.

On a whim, I tapped the lightweight cream onto the sore, red and flaky skin under my eyes before bed and, for the first time in what felt like forever, I woke up without the awful, uncomfortable dryness – pretty much a miracle considering how many products I’ve tried in the past. I’ve been applying it under my eyes, and to my lips, hands and anywhere else where I’m prone to excessive dryness ever since, and I can’t quite believe the transformation in my skin. It is now smooth, soft, plump, hydrated and, finally, comfortable.

What makes this moisturiser different?

The dermatologist-developed formula is filled to bursting with ingredients that eczema and dermatitis-prone skin needs. “Traditional moisturisers are comprised of ingredients such as humectants — which attract water to the skin — and emollients — the oily layer which sits on top of the skin to stop water escaping,” explains Tom Allison of CeraVe USA. “These can be effective, but they don’t directly address the compromised skin barrier which may have caused dry or irritated skin in the first place. To do that, you need to add ceramides which will help to restore the skin barrier function.”

In short, ceramides are oils that our bodies produce naturally – think of them as little invisible cell builders that keep your skin intact. Due to things like the environment and a weakened skin barrier, they tend to take a bit of a dip - cue dryness, itchiness and redness often associated with atopic dermatitis and eczema. 

The second staple ingredient is hyaluronic acid (HA). Another component produced naturally in our cells, experts champion HA for its ability to hydrate and plump tight skin peppered with lines. Together, ceramides and HA reinforce fragile skin and deliver moisture to thirsty cells instantly and cumulatively throughout the day. The cream is void of paraffins, parabens and oils and is also non-comedogenic, so it didn’t block my pores like everything else I tried.

Another brilliant thing about CeraVe is the price point. Products start at just £5.50 and the Moisturising Cream (a huge 454g of it) won’t break the bank at £16. Thanks to Boots, it’s also readily available on the high-street, which means you don’t have to drop £250 on a private dermatologist appointment or make countless visits to your GP. Instead, healthy skin is attainable in your lunch break. If I wasn’t already sold…

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Images: Eduardo Dutra / Unsplash / Instagram

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