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My introduction to Dr. Pimple Popper (real name: Sandra Lee) was an exploding cyst video I’m still trying to scrub from my memory. Most of us associate the skin care expert with her can’t-look-away skin extractions. You may also be familiar with her equally addictive TLC TV series. But one thing we tend to forget–at least I tend to forget–is that her expertise covers the gamut of obscure, acne-zapping facts to the most basic, everyday tips. So when I recently had the chance to sit down with her, we didn’t talk gross skin extractions. Instead, we talked basic skin moisture; specifically, the best moisturizers for eczema or dry skin.
As someone who lives with eczema, Dr. Lee is passionate about making sure that those like her are doing more harm than good this time of year. But instead of sacrificing a long list of everyday habits, like say a hot shower, the dermatologist prefers making small adjustments. For instance, while most experts recommend taking lukewarm or even cold showers to avoid excess dryness, Dr. Lee says to simply “minimize the length” of them.
“Most important for those of us with eczema is you want to minimize your showers,” she says. “For me, there’s no way I can take a cold shower. So I just take a very short, hot shower because the heat actually takes moisture from your skin.” Her other small, but effective game-changer? Keep moisturizer inside the shower.
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“That’s key. It will change your life. Because what we do is when we take a shower is we get out and dry ourselves off. When you’re still damp…that’s when you want to put the moisturizer in,” she says. “Because it will bind that water to you. If you go out of the water and you’re still a little damp, it evaporates and pulls water from you. That’s why when you take a shower, you sometimes feel itchy after.”
When it comes to face cleansing specifically, it doesn’t matter whether you wash in or out of the shower. It really boils down to frequency. If you’re dealing with flaking, simply wash your face less. “Obviously, make sure it’s clean,” she says, “But do it when you feel like you need to–it can be just once a day. It can be just before you go to sleep.” Washing less can be especially effective for those with atopic dermatitis or eczema, but again, everyone’s cleansing routine is singular and should be approved by an expert if possible.
So what kind of moisturizer should you keep in the shower? In general, but especially for dryer skin types, Dr. Lee says to rely on creams instead of water-based lotions. “Creams are oil-based. Those of us who are dryer can tolerate heavy creams because they’re just more moisturizing. Even an ointment like Vaseline–we can tolerate that,” she says. Also, you don’t need to get fancy with your body moisturizers. In fact, Dr. Lee actually recommends a slew of drugstore staples if your eczema is flaring up. “Over the counters like CeraVe, Cetaphil, Dove, Eucerin; they all make really, good thick creams,” she says.
For extra-scaly patches, she says applying a stronger AHA-infused formula like her very own SLMD Glycolic Acid Body Lotion ($35) will lift the dead, dull skin from those infected areas. And overall, avoiding fragrance is ideal since it wicks even more moisture away from the skin. Ah, if only I had this advice at the start of winter instead of the end. Nonetheless, it’s good to know that I don’t have to spend money on something that’s more than $20 in Sephora. Instead, grab any of these Dr. Pimple Popper-approved drugstore staples and stick it next to your body wash. Thank us later.
Aquation Daily Moisturizing Lotion
A fragrance-free, non-comedogenic lotion that is just as effective as a cream, thanks to the addition of ceramides and hyaluronic acid in the no-frills formula.
$12.99 at Amazon
Aveeno Skin Relief 24 Hr. Moisturizing Lotion
Fast-absorbing and fragrance-free, but made with ultra-hydrating shea butter, this sensitive skin-friendly lotion promises to keep skin moisturized for a full 24 hours.
$7.97 at Walmart
Avene XeraCalm AD Lipid-Replenishing Cream
Formulated specifically for atopic dermatitis can eczema, this clinical formula was made to protect skin from the drying effects of water, especially during flare-ups.
$33 at Amazon
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
Our personal favorite includes three different types of ceramides plus hyaluronic acid to help the skin retain moisture.
$13.99 at Ulta
Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream
Another intense moisturizer made with a handful of emollients and humectants to bind water to the skin and prevent moisture loss.
$15.99 at Ulta
Dove Expert Balm
Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, this dermatologically-tested balm was made to repair scaly patches and hydrate dry patches.
$13.27 at Amazon
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream
Made without 23 harmful ingredients including fragrance, this top-seller is worthy of the higher price. Its formula includes colloidal oatmeal for calming inflammation, shea butter, and ceramides for hydration and a custom antioxidant booster for protection against future damage.
$32 at First Aid Beauty
Eucerin Eczema Relief Cream
Gentle enough for every member of the family, even babies, this eczema-specific formula is also made with ceramides for strengthening the skin’s barrier and natural oatmeal for calming irritation.
$6.55 at Amazon
La Roche-Posay Lipikar Eczema Soothing Relief Cream
The National Eczema Association recommends this heavy cream, infused with lipids, for relieving itchiness and other symptoms of eczema.
$13.04 at Amazon
Vaseline Extremely Dry Skin Rescue
The newest product from this iconic brand is a next-level lotion that might as well be a cream. It’s made with a “barrier repair complex” that combines Vaseline jelly, glycerin and pro-lipids to not only provide moisture, but strengthen the skin’s barrier too.
$5.89 at Target
This best-selling Amazon staple is a straight-forward, uncomplicated solution for red, irritated or itchy skin. Plus it’s been officially approved by the National Eczema Association and contains zero fragrances.
$12.76 at Amazon