I was flaking. Not just from my scalp, but from my ears, the sides of my nose, my eyebrows. When I scratched at the incessant tickle around my hairline an off-white mist would drift to my chest, the dead skin getting caught in the fibers of my black, cashmere top. Something you stop wearing when you’re trying to hide your persistent eczema problem.
“Do you get dandruff?,” my workmate asked as she dusted off my shoulders while on a shoot for work.
I couldn’t sleep for the itch and would complain and then apologize to my boyfriend for scratching into the night, tossing and turning. Rub my face on the pillow, on the towel, for some relief.
I guess he got sick of it, because he came to me one morning with an article on some new eczema research that came out this year in May. It was only one study of 15 people, but the research had found a possible link between something called parabens and eczema.
Parabens are a kind of preservative that companies use to give their products a longer shelf life. They’re in most skin products — soap, face wash, body wash, moisturizer, makeup. Pick up a skincare product in a store and chances are it has parabens in it.
The researchers discovered that the natural presence of a ‘good’ bacteria (Roseomonas mucosa) on the skin improves eczema, and that spraying that bacteria on the skin helps even more. They also found that parabens inhibit the growth of this good bacteria. In short, parabens stop the growth of good bacteria that fights eczema.
So all those times I was slathering on moisturizer trying to fix the itch I was actually disadvantaging my troops?
Clearly I was desperate, so I was willing to try something that came out of a single study and I didn’t give a single flake how small the sample size or whether it was peer reviewed.
I went to Sephora and asked them to show me the paraben-free brands. There were only two so I went with the cheaper one. At Whole Foods I saw a paraben-free shampoo for babies, so I grabbed that too.
I’m not trying to claim I’ve found a miracle solution to eczema, but I’ve found a miracle solution for me. Within days of using the new products, my face was smooth and sans-itch. I joked that I looked 23. I stopped apologizing at night.
I’m almost certain there was a near-crash outside my house from a driver marveling at my eczema-free skin. Or maybe they were just checking out my black cashmere sweater. Yeah — I can wear that again now, too. 😉
For more on the products I now use for my skin, click here.