I have suffered from eczema since childhood, so I am always on the hunt for solutions.
My eczema was a founding reason for launching The White T-shirt Co and although I have not outgrown it, I have learnt to manage my skin and remove triggers that cause irritations and flare-ups. It's not debilitating, but it can be very uncomfortable and often makes me self-conscious.
What you wear makes a difference to any skin condition, which is why The White T-shirt Co is all about organic skin friendly t-shirts. But it's what you apply to your skin that makes the most difference and that has been a long, long search. It has been trial and error which is frustrating and expensive. Then I met Helen. Helen and I are both eczema sufferers, but Helens' is more extreme and out of desperation drove her to develop her products. Bare Faced Skin works better for me than any other cream I have tried. So for any fellow eczema sufferers, this is a chat I had with Helen...
Q. We are both eczema suffers who founded our businesses to help manage our condition. Would you mind sharing your story as I know it’s been a long journey for you?
Helen: Yes, Eczema has been a bit of a journey. I will give you the short version though. I developed Eczema in my teens and was covered from my head to my knees. I spent many years between doctors, hospitals, having allergy tests, given steroid creams, E45 cream. I do not know how many tubs of petroleum jelly I got through I hated it, my skin always felt itchy and suffocated. Further tests revealed I had what seemed an allergy to life, basically everything I ate, drank or came into contact with.
So followed the lifestyle changes, elimination diets which I can only describe as hell. I ended up with a rare complication and was rushed into hospital covered in sores and delirious, I was hooked up to tubes. My doctor said had they not got me to the hospital when they did, I would have died within 24 hours. Eventually, they released me to convalesce at home. My confidence at this point was rock bottom not wanting to go outside due to the way my skin looked with the Eczema, scarring and dealing with the sensitivities. So, my mission became to minimise any irritation to my skin and reduce the scarring. I found Chinese herbs, and my focus changed not only to the food I ate and what I put on my body but also my emotional wellbeing. Skincare products, along with most things I tried did not really agree with me. I decided to find out how to make my own using lovely butters, oils and nutritious ingredients. It made a real difference, I noticed I didn't have the reactions that I'd get with mainstream products. This is where Bare Faced Skin was created. I loved luxury products, but my skin did not. Bare Faced Skin luxe products are for those with sensitivity and ageing concerns, who want effective skincare that helps to soothe, calm and reduce the feeling of irritation and frustration, creating lasting skin confidence.
Q. This is why you've become my eczema guru. So what should eczema suffers look out for when choosing clothing?
Helen: When you have Eczema the last thing you want is to get hot and bothered, I would say when choosing fabrics go for the natural fibres, preferably organic, they feel so much cooler on the skin and you’ll find they let your skin breathe. In saying that I was never able to wear wool, so it is an individual thing. You will find what suits you. When you do buy think about items you can layer up, lightweight, not too tight or clingy. I have a bit of a mix of naturals and synthetics. When I do buy synthetics, I look to buy items from recycled/repurposed materials.
Style and quality are also important. Quality fabrics have a longer shelf life and classic styles never go out of fashion and can be restyled with accessories. For example, you cannot go wrong with a classic T-Shirt, dressed up or down they go with virtually anything.
Q. We are often asked by customers for other ethical clothing recommendations. What are your 'go to' brands or sources of inspiration?
Helen: Stella McCartney has been a beacon clothing brand out there on the ethical radar for many years, White T-Shirt Co goes without saying for your organic cotton T-Shirts and clothing and your ethics around sourcing your products, but not just thinking about clothing From Belo for their accessories made from leftover offcuts from the motor industry, Lilly & Harry organic cotton babywear and Drift jewellery with pieces crafted with recycled coastal sea glass.
Q. Out of interest how has lockdown affected your eczema? Have you any tips you could share to help control any flare-ups or even better avoidance suggestions?
Helen: I think lockdown has made everyone aware of mental health and how important it is to be conscious of their wellbeing. When you have Eczema stress can be a major contributor to flare-ups, so managing how you interact/react in your environment and the things you are in control of can make a huge difference. Personally, I have managed to keep flare-ups under control. I made sure I upped my intake of fluids to combat the effect of central heating and being confined indoors, kept a routine of eating regular balanced meals, tried not to snack too much. Additional supplements, omegas especially I swear by them, I would say if you were thinking about supplements then do consult your GP. I still make sure to get fresh air and exercise to stop the stir-crazy feeling and get a few endorphins going. I think the biggest thing which has reduced the stress levels through all this madness has been to concentrate on doing the things which I could control and not worrying about the thing I could not. So, I’d say any opportunity you get to take a break, do it. Breathe, go for that walk, change your environment, get out of the headspace you are in. Look after yourself and don’t feel guilty about it either.
Q. I know we all can’t wait for the end of lockdown and are dreaming of sunny days and putting the clothes we’ve been wearing on repeat away! Do you have any favourite pieces you can’t wait to emerge in?
Helen: Oh yes, hold me back. I have promised myself I will make a jumpsuit for when we come out of lockdown and I may throw on a dress just to mix it up and feel a bit summery, but I am always most comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt or if it’s very warm shorts and a t-shirt. Throw on a hat and a pair of sunnies, I feel like I could conquer the world in that uniform.
Please visit Bare Faced Skin to view Helens range of Creams