Two weeks ago I sat down and wrote a spring cleaning checklist. Each day I tried to cross off one or two of those tasks, like organizing my junk drawer or scrubbing down my fridge. And I’m feeling so great that I want to take the “spring cleaning” spirit to every area of my life – including my skin.
Confession? I have hardly been washing my face lately. With a new baby, a wild preschooler and a new season of House of Cards . . . I have shamefully climbed into bed in a zombie-like state . . . with zombie-like skin to go along. I can’t believe I’m admitting that I go to bed with makeup (and dirt, grime, pollution, oil) clogging my pores. But it’s true. I’ve been slacking and my skin has been suffering for it.
Here is my skincare spring cleaning checklist:
1. Declutter the skincare: I really don’t need a medicine cabinet bursting with creams and cure-alls. I got rid of everything I didn’t like or didn’t use, along with anything more than a year old. Bonus points for me: I also tackled my makeup!
2. Like, LITERALLY clean the dkincare: If my skincare bottles and facial tools are covered in germs and makeup dust, how much good is it to get my hands covered with that stuff and then go rubbing my face?! Yuck. Warm soapy water and some clean towels made everything look fresh and clean. Oh yeah, and the same goes for makeup, makeup brushes, etc. I also cleaned the storage zones for my toiletries, just because I was feeling a tad overachiever at the moment.
3. Analyze and make a wish list: After decluttering and cleaning, I analyzed what was missing in my skincare products, like an eye cream, a new mud mask and a big stock of nose pore strips, which I’m always running out of. I made a wish list and have slowly started looking for the right products to fill those skincare needs.
4. Set up for success: I created a face-washing station. I filled a cute basket with some headbands, hair ties, bobby pins and clean white washcloths to dry off with. And of course my favorite cleanser and lotions. Instead of having one bottle of cleanser that goes back in forth between shower and bathroom counter, I bought an extra for my shower! If you travel a lot, take this time to have your toiletries bag stocked with all your best skincare items. Make it easy to be good to your skin!
5. Be a realist: I SHOULD wash my face properly before going to bed. But as Voltaire once said, perfection is the enemy of good. So I loaded my bedside table drawer’s with a package of the wonderful Burt’s Bees Sensitive Skin Facial Wipes. If worst comes to worst I can at least get the top layer of gunk off before heading to sleepy town. I also included a container of Neutragena Acne Stress Control Cleansing Pads, in case I am feeling extra oily and a tad ambitious.
Alright, so now I am feeling a huge improvement in my skincare. Do you have any other steps to spring cleaning your skincare? Comment make me happy and just might cure your seborrheic dermatitis.*
*No, it won’t. Sorry. That was manipulative.
(For your convenience I linked to some products on Amazon. For my convenience, they are affiliate links! Thanks!)
1. Treat it like dry skin
Your skin is reddish and flaky . . . so it’s dry, right? Not necesarily! If it is seborrheic dermatitis, then your epidermis has been catfishing you! Surprise! The source of your problem is more like a rash caused by oil/yeast. So fight the urge to just slather it with moisturizers, oils, creams, etc. Certain oils, such as coconut oil, may be useful for the cleaning of your skin, though it shouldn’t be left on. And using a light moisturizer can help with the appearance of those flakes. But overall, don’t go crazy.
2. Flake it off
Think you can just flake off those crusty skin patches and all will be well? Sorry, but no. If you need to spiff up for an evening, sure you can gently peel off the worst flakes but it is a slippery-slope to obsessive flaking off . . . resulting in an even worse appearance than before. Irritation causes more oil to ooze out your pores (nice image, right?) and can just inflame the heck out of your skin. This goes for both scalp and face, or anywhere else. Treat the source of your problem (see derm), not the symptom (flakes).
3. Put up hair when wet, or wear a hat over wet hair
I’ve learned this from personal experience and from commenters chiming in. This logic applies to seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp (dandruff), obviously. When you put your wet hair up in a ponytail or bun, or if you throw a hat on top of damp hair . . . it just creates some weird sort of greenhouse. It’s like your head is all humid and the dandruff becomes this mushy gloop. And your head gets all itchy and maybe oily. I think fresh air is key to keeping flakes at bay.
4. Skip showering or shampooing
A lot of people are sort of anti-shampooing these days. There are even advocates suggesting we all bath much less. It’s true, bathing may be America’s 2nd favorite pastime. And that can dry out your skin and hair, especially with harsh soaps and chemicals in our products. I personally have tried, on several occasions, giving up the shampoo for weeks at a time. I have tried lowering the frequency of my showers. But I have found that seborrheic dermatitis needs frequent cleaning. Certainly don’t over-do it, stripping your skin of all oils. But, in general, you’ve gotta gently wash away the oils that are causing your SD.
5. Give up hope
The truth is there is not “cure” for SD. You’ll probably have to deal with it for years. But it can absolutely be improved! You can have lovely skin again if you explore your options and commit to a skin care plan. I have cried big fat tears because I was embarrassed and ashamed of my skin. I have avoided parties and dates. I have spent tons of money trying to fix it. And after getting educated on the topic and trying a variety of solutions, I’m now able to keep my skin in pretty good shame. People often comment on how great my skin looks. Don’t give up, you’ll find the best way to kick seborrheic dermatitis to the curb.
I didn’t know there was a fancy medical name for my dandruff or for the flaky skin on my nose and forehead. It was after more than ten years of itchy-red-yucky-hideous-unomfortable skin problems that I finally heard the words, Seborrheic Dermatitis.
Huh? What is seborrheic dermatitis? This sounds serious. Am I dying?!
Turns out, seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disorder that is usually characterized by redness, flakiness, itchiness and all-around discomfort. It is often greasy scales, though it also seems dry at the same time, which is confusing when you are trying to self-treat. The most common places to suffer from seborrheic dermatitis is the scalp, face and torso or any area that has sebaceous glands.
What causes seborrheic dermatitis? It’s probably genetic and can be brought on by stress, hormones, other health problems or environmental triggers. The rash itself is caused by a over-production of sebum, which then turns into an infection . . . which then causes inflammation. There’s a widely-embraed, though unproven, theory that seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory response to yeast. More on that in another blog post.
Seborrheic dermatitis can really vary in appearance from one person to the next. Some people have yellow flakes, others gray or white. It can happen on your nose, nose folds, cheeks, forehead, chin, behind your ears, eyebrows, eyelashes, arm pitts, genital area, back, stomach, chest . . .it’s not fun, people! Oh, and probably the most common of all: the scalp! If only flakes could be the hottest hair accessory.
There are lots of solutions out there to help with seborrheic dermatitis, but no actual cure.
So that’s Seborrheic Dermatitis 101. I’ve covered the basics here, but if you are like me, you’re still left with LOTS of questions. Please feel free to ask questions or contribute to the conversation in the comments.
*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical expert. I’m just a regular ‘ol twentysomething (ok, thirtysomething) mom who has deat with acne and seborrheic dermatitis for almost twenty years. I want to write what I learn and what I experience as a sufferer of skin problems. PLEASE talk to a general practitioner or dermatologist before trying a new skin care regime.