Got skin drama? The first choice many of us turn to is makeup, right? Unfortunately, when you’ve got seborrheic dermatitis (major redness, oily skin and crazy-dramatic flakes), makeup sometimes makes it worse. With 20 years of seborrheic dermatitis AND makeup wearing experience, I’ve got a few tips. I can’t promise miracles, but try these suggestions for making the most of a scaly situation. (Contains affiliate links)
1. Flakes Be Gone: Makeup on top of flaky skin just does not work. Then you’ll just be wearing flakeup (get it?!). Honestly, no makeup is better than weird beige-colored face dandruff. Gentle exfoliation can help prepare the skin. Now, if you over-irritate the skin it will end up red and oily. But try a konjac sponge, Clarisonic or a product with a very, very gentle scrubby quality. You can carefully pick off the worst of the worst flakes but don’t make things worse!
2. Pat Pat Pat: For all your moisturizers, serums and foundations . . . use a patting quality rather than a rubbing quality. The rubbing can create more flakes. Those little foam wedges work great for this, though they do soak up some product. Use a clean one every day please! Bacteria is like fuel for seborrheic dermatitis.
3. Prime Time: You need something to create a smooth layer over the skin, before the foundation. Try Maybeline Baby Face (about $4.50). I love it! Only use a tiny amount and smooth it on AFTER your moisturizer is dry, then wait until primer is dry before applying makeup. The Smashbox Photo Finish Primer is even more amazing, but costs a bit more ($16).
4. Go Green: Since green is opposite red on the color wheel, it helps tone down redness. So as weird as it seems, rubbing on green creams won’t make you look like an alien, but actually might make you look more human. A great affordable option ($10) is L’Oreal Paris Studio Secrets Anti-redness Color Correcting Primer, which is perfect for an all-over reduction of pink skin. But for a serious fight against glaring red patches, try something like Dermablend’s Redness Concealer. It’s amazing! If you ever find that a green product is just a little TOO green, try mixing it with your moisturizer, primer or foundation for a custom redness-reducing product.
5. Powder with Caution: Only use powder if you are having a flake-free day. It can make your skin look dry and dull. The exception to this rule would be mineral powders such as Bare Minerals, which are used in place of a foundation and can actually look pretty great on seborrheic dermatitis. I used Bare Minerals for YEARS and found that it not only looked good on my skin, but improved my skin’s condition!
6. Try, Try Again: It’s all about trial and error, my friends! I’ve tried dozens of foundations and I’m still looking for something that works. Right now I am loving ELF Foundation Serum.
What is your best makeup tip for seborrheic dermatitis?! Please share in the comments. Most of all, dig deep into your emotional reserves and exude beauty and confidence from within. Honestly, nobody is staring at your flaky nose if you’ve got a big smile, sparkly eye shadow, a dirty joke, a clever anecdote or an act of kindness. Sorry for the cheesiness, but I truly believe that while makeup is fun and can give you a nice boost of spirit, you can be beautiful without a trip to Sephora.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a confusing skin disorder – it’s presents like dry skin . . . but it’s also kinda greasy. It’s red and easily irritated . . . but you can’t just baby it, or you’ll never kill the bacteria/fungus causing all the drama. This makes choosing a moisturizer for seborrheic dermatitis plagued skin a difficult task.
(Contains affiliate links)
For years, I thought I had DRY sensitive skin. I’d SLATHER on thick creams and goopy oils. It would soften up the scales so I thought it was working. But my skin still had a rashy quality and the flakes always came back. I’ve learned that seborrheic dermatitis is really OILY skin, that is somewhat sensitive, but mostly just cursed with a weird fungal rash.
Through much research and a lot of personal trial and error, I’ve discovered some amazing skincare products for seborrheic dermatitis. Let’s start with daytime moisturizers! Three of these hover around $10 so there’s something for every price point.
1. Paula’s Choice Hydralight Moisture-Infusing Lotion: This one is perfect for those of you wanting to treat your seborrheic dermatitis, but you also want to ward off wrinkles. (Not that I’d know anything about that. Wink, wink.) A lot of anti-aging stuff is far too irritating for those of us struggling with SD, rosacea or sensitive skin. This is super light and labeled “For Extra Sensitive Skin.” It provides a matte finish and works great under makeup. Paula’s Choice also makes a similar product with mineral sunscreen added!
2. Cetaphil DermaControl Moisturize with SPF 30: What a catch-22 . . . To protect our skin, we need sunblock. To keep your skin healthy and clean, the last thing we need is sunblock. But wait! I finally found a high-SPF daily moisturizer that smells neutral, offers a matter appearance, doesn’t irritate, won’t clog pores and actually HELPS prevent acne or seborrheic dermatitis flares. This is my day-to-day lotion now, since I spend a lot of time outside with my kids and God got real cheap with the melanin when he made me.
3. Eucerin Redness Relief Daily Perfecting Lotion SPF 15: If redness is rival, this should be your daily go-to. It contains extract from licorice root, which soothes inflammation. And of course it is oil-free, fragrance-fee and has a specially-formulated gentle sunscreen added. But the real perk? A subtle green tint which contracts red skin tone! Love.
4. PCA Skin Anti-Redness Serum: This is another great option for reducing redness. Many dermatologist recommend PCA because they use only premium ingredients that deliver excellent results. Though a little more pricy, this serum offers great redness reduction for most who try it.
5. Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin: Our most affordable option comes from, this is the choice for you if you just want to keep it simple. Oil-free, alcohol-free, fragrance free, non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic. Just good, basic, very light moisturizer for sensitive, oily skin.
I’d love to hear your recommendations! What’s your favorite daytime moisturizer?
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.
When Netflix released the second season of Orange is the New Black, I was a pregnant and exhausted stay-at-home mom. So I may have put on an extra episode or two of Doc McStuffins for my three-year-old son so I could sneak into my room and watch just a little bit more of the highly addicting show about crazy incarcerated broads.
I was looking at the women of Litchfield, realizing how strange it is to see women on my screen with little to no makeup (or at least made up to look they aren’t made up). I started thinking, “Ugh. What would I look like in prison? Would I have to wash my sensitive skin with crappy soap? I’m doubting they sell Dermalogica in the commissary . . . would my seborrheic dermatitis count as a medical condition so I could get dermatologist-prescribed skincare? Or would my skin improve because I wouldn’t have makeup?”
And then I remembered Leanne, the blonde with the splotchy skin.
I have searched and searched for a picture that really shows off her plagued skin, but I haven’t found it yet. I may just have to watch the whole season over again to find one for myself! But if you’ve seen the show, you’d probably agree with me that the poor girl is suffering from seborrheic dermatitis. Leanne Taylor is played by the lovely Emma Myles, who seems to have much better teeth and skin than the meth addict she plays on screen, as you can see in the above photo.
In an interview, makeup artist for OITNB Michal Biggar says, “It’s very important to give all the characters identifying features since they are all in the same drab uniforms.” I think Leanne suffers from seborrheic dermatitis because of the locations of her red spots – on her cheeks near her nose, between her eyebrows and on her forehead. I can’t help but wonder if the makeup team added this rashy look to give her character a realistic look. I’ll bet a woman’s prison would be filled with all sorts of skin conditions.
There’s just no escaping seborrheic dermatitis . . . even when I’m trying to relax and watch a favorite show!
(This article contains an affiliate link for coconut oil if you are interested in trying this interesting solution. Thanks!)
It’s a bit on the trendy side, sure. Coconuts are everywhere, man! Paleo dieters and vegans alike are buying oodles of the stuff, in the form of flakes, oil, milk and water to make their meals. People are taking shots of oil as a nutritional supplement! And everyone is in love with coconut oil as a skin care product. I used it for nearly a year as a means of helping my seborrheic dermatitis. I posted about it here. A few helpful commenters pointed out that coconut oil is actually . . . GASP . . . comedogenic (aka it clogs your pores). But people on forums and blogs are raving about coconut oil healing seborrheic dermatitis or curing acne. Hmmm . . .
I just had to go on a search to try to get the truth about coconut oil!
Coconut oil is antimicrobial, anti fungal, antioxidant and antibacterial – which is all GREAT for treating seborrheic dermatitis (whether on your face or scalp). It’s also a way to moisturize without the chemicals, fragrances and other irritants that are part and parcel of store-bought creams.
Indeed, coconut oil is comedeogenic aka it clogs your pores! And clogged pores are actually a big element of seborrheic dermatitis. Though I did feel that the worst of my seborrheic dermatitis cleared up while using coconut oil, I did find that the pores on my nose were even more clogged than usual. Also, remember that the while SB seems like dry skin, it is really caused by oil/yeast, so treat your skin more like oily or combination skin than dry skin. So, maybe we don’t need to go crazy with the oily moisturizer? It’s really all about balance.
I think some people find that using coconut oil helps seborrheic dermatitis because of it’s anti fungal/antibacterial properties. And it may have clogged their pores a bit, but it possibly clogged their pores with coconut oil, replacing the yeast, fungus and skin oil that causes the seborrheic dermatitis. Does that make sense? A lot of the raving online is from people who used it for a short time. For example, one woman who had struggled with seborrheic dermatitis on her scalp (dandruff) for her entire life cured it a few years ago by doing a three week course of leaving coconut oil on her scalp for one hour, three times a week. So perhaps there are some benefits that out way the negatives?
My Favorite Solution
I discovered that many people used coconut oil as a FACE WASH and it helped their acne or seborrheic dermatitis! You know how oil and water just do NOT get along? So the idea is that washing your face with water won’t really help remove the oil from your skin. Many experts point out that coconut oil should be used only as a facial cleanser and then rinsed off well. This makes a lot of sense! I’ve been trying this by warming up the coconut oil in my (clean) hands and slathering on my face before taking to my pores with the Clarisonic. I use coconut oil in the morning and in the evenings I use it to remove my makeup quickly before washing with Simple Refreshing Gel Cleanser.
Everyone is different. There isn’t one magic cure for seborrheic dermatitis, and it might just be something you need to try for yourself. I have totally changed the way I am utilizing coconut oil. That’s why I call this The Seborrheic Dermatitis Blog. I’m chronicling my journey to heal my skin and I am not the authority in this manner. But at least I can share my story and the loads of information I collect and we can help each other out with tips and tricks!
You tell me . . .
Have you tried coconut oil on your seborrheic dermatitis? Did it help or hurt? Has adding it to your diet helped your skin condition?
I have made some changes in my skin care routine for seborrheic dermatitis on my face. The more I learn, the better I get at treating my seborrheic dermatitis. The biggest thing I’ve learned in treating seb derm is that, though it LOOKS like dry skin, it is really oily. It needs a thorough yet GENTLE cleaning and LIGHT moisturizing. Here are some of my fave products, and I’ve included affiliate links below. You can trust that these products are what I truly use on my rash-plagued face!
In the morning, I wash my face with Simple Refreshing Facial Wash Gel. It is mild, yet cleans well. If you are very oily-prone or are struggling with a major seborrheic dermatitis breakout, then you might want to use a toner as well, at least in your trouble areas.
Then I apply two great products for seborrheic dermatitis. First, I use the Boots Anti-Redness Serum on my rashy/red areas. At about $15 – $20 (Amazon is usually cheaper than getting at Target), this is my most expensive product, which I think is pretty good. Plus I only apply a little bit in my trouble areas as needed. It works really well at reducing the redness that usually comes with seborrheic dermatitis.
Then I slather on Simple Protecting Light Moisturizer SPF 15. It’s just a very basic, non-irritating day cream with the all-important sun protection. Perfect!
After a hard day of motherhood (i.e.: lots of dirt and sweat and stress), I wash the yuckies off my face with my beloved Clarisonic and another dose of the Simple Refreshing Facial Gel Wash. I talk more about using the Clarisonic on seborrheic dermatitis in this post. Then I apply a thin layer of Eucerin Redness Relief, it only costs around $12 – $15 and lasts me two to three months. No need to buy crazy-expensive night creams, people!
I really love both the Simple products and the Eucerine Redness Relief products. If you’ve tried any others, please comment below. I’d love to know – what products help with your facial seborrheic dermatitis?
UPDATE: One year later, I’ve changed up my routine. Check out My Latest and Greatest Skincare Routine. Something from below might interest you, so check this out first. Also, I’ve learned much more about coconut oil and another update is coming soon. (Oh, and I’ve also added some affiliate links to my fave products so I can contribute more time and money back into this site.)
I’ve been struggling with seborrheic dermatitis on my face for over a decade! I’ve always tried to ignore it, to be honest. Plus, it sort of comes and goes. But a few months ago, things gone downright ugly- flakes and redness and, just . . . ewww. So I went on an information binge, which turned into a fantastic solution for my face and the launch of this very blog.
So here’s MY routine for curbing the facial flakes and redness:
Wash my face with my Clarisonic Mia. I don’t do this every morning, but I truly think my skin is best when I do. I always thought my sensitive skin would freak out from this much exfoliating, but it is so gentle and just leaves my skin soft and clean.
I use Beauty Society’s Easy Going face wash. It is so mild and soothing. They even reccommend it for people with rosacea. Beauty Society is sold by independent contractors. It’s like a more modern version of Mary Kay. So find someone local to support! One bottle last me FOREVER so it is totally worth it.
After washing my face, I smear on some moisturizer. Right now I am using Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer with SPF15. I want to try some more options, because I HATE that there is fragrance in this lotion. It does seem to calm my skin though, but I plan on trying something new next time.
But I also incorporate my secret ingredient: Pur Minerals Correcting Primer in Green. This stuff ain’t cheap ($30), and I also have a huge complaint about the pump, which worked for a like a hot minute. Also, I found that putting the stuff on “as is” leaves my face looking a little chalky, ashy . . . and just, well, green. Too green. But if I mix a dab into my moisturizer? Bingo! Decreases the redness just perfectly. It also makes my morning routine go quickly. I’ll get more into makeup for seborrheic dermatitis in some other post.
I use make-up remover wipes some nights to get off the bulk of my makeup. I don’t like when the makeup ends up all over my precious Clarisonic. If I’m in the shower, I just rinse with the warm water first.
I use my Clarisonic Mia and Beauty Society face wash to get my skin all clean and lovely.
After washing, I slather on Cocount Oil. That’s right. After spending small fortunes on fancy-shmancy moisturizers, I’ve realized that the best treatment for my facial seborrheic dermatitis comes from Trader Joe’s at just $6.99 jar . . . and that lasts for months on end. I also use coconut oil as my hair product, scalp treatment, skin moisturizer and much more. It is super oily at first and your spouse or child will be scared to go near you for the first twenty minutes. But then your skin absorbs it and you wake with gorgeous, glowing skin. I truly feel that it wouldn’t work as well without the Clarisonic, though. These two finds were what really improved my skin. I am so glad I splurged on the Clarisonic, and now that I spend maybe $14 a year on my night cream . . . it all evens out.
So that is what works for ME. Talk to your doctor before you try some hair-brained Internet scheme though, ha! What is YOUR best solution for seborrheic dermatitis on your face? Give us your best tips in the comments, please!