A makeup foundation bottle with a halo on one side and devil horn on the other.

Eczema and Makeup: Friend or Foe?

In my early 20s, I trained to become a teacher. From age 5, whenever anybody asked me the classic question, “What do you want to be when you are older?” Without hesitation, I replied, “I want to be a teacher.” However, as any teacher will tell you, teaching is not an easy job. I chose to teach students aged 11-18. But teaching this age group comes with a myriad of challenges for all teachers.

How can teens tear apart your self-esteem?

This age group of young people is particularly malicious and merciless. Imagine a cunning and sly hyena preying on a poor defenseless antelope in the Serengeti. That is what it can feel like when you are newly qualified and standing in front of a bunch of 30 disinterested teenagers. They can sense any weakness in any teacher from a ten-mile radius, hone on it, and are more than happy to use it for personal entertainment. They will ignore the booger and acne on their own face and instead amplify and obsessively berate the wonky eyebrow/tie/skirt on their teacher. They will tell anyone with a pulse in their social group that mister or missus so-and-so has a noticeable flaw.

Why did I turn to makeup?

Yet even though I had noticeable eczema and hard-to-hide hyperpigmentation on my face, I was passionate about teaching. It was like breathing to me. I was born to teach. But, if only I could minimize, mask, or manage my obvious skin condition. It was this necessity that forced me to experiment with makeup. Before this, I was completely oblivious to mascara or lip liner. It was a completely different language. Plus, my skin was so sensitive, I was particularly weary and cautious about introducing new products to it for fear of a flare-up.

How did makeup help me?

But makeup proved to be magical and transformative. Firstly, it helped hide all my flaws and insecurities. Secondly, it quelled my insecurities and gave me a much-needed boost in confidence to be the person that I had been on the inside. Evidently, I had to experiment with various brands and formulas. But, once I found a product that agreed with me, I was more than happy to commit to it. Putting on a carefully curated and blended mask every morning was necessary for me to operate as a confident teacher.

Will makeup do long-term damage to my skin?

Since then, I have used a host of magic makeup tricks to conceal and detract attention from my less-than-perfect skin. My mum berates me for my use of makeup. She often reminds me that the host of chemicals in the plethora of makeup products I use is, in fact, doing my skin more long-term damage than I realize and that I look better without it. But, in this case, I respectfully and strongly disagree.

Makeup or no makeup?

Makeup understandably divides opinions among people. I can understand why some people may view makeup as a form of trickery because it creates an illusionary, highly polished version of a person. However, if it masks a lifetime of devastation and pain caused by eczema and gives me the confidence to go out and function in the world, then what is the harm?

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