Cosmetics, make-up and shaving

Welcome to the cosmetics, make-up and shaving section!

In this section, you will find out more about:

  • Can I use deodorant, cosmetics, perfume, aftershave and make up?
  • What about wool, metal, latex and condoms?
  • Can I use hair dye?
  • What’s the best way to shave or remove hair?
  • Can I use acne treatments?
  • Can I get a tattoo?

Can I use deodorant, cosmetics, perfume, aftershave and make-up?

Many people with eczema have told us that it can be difficult to find cosmetics and toiletries. This is because these products can make eczema worse. Such products include make-up, deodorant, nail varnish remover, perfume, aftershave, wet wipes and false nails.
This is because these products often have perfumes and other chemicals in that can irritate or dry your skin out and make your eczema worse.

Using aftershave always makes my eczema worse. I find it helpful to spray the aftershave on my clothes instead of my skin. It still smells good and doesn’t affect my eczema.


Products that are ‘dermatologically tested or recommended’, ‘hypoallergenic’ or are for ‘sensitive skin’ usually have less perfumes in them and may irritate your skin less. Then again, these products were not made for people with eczema, so it’s hard to say for sure that they won’t make your eczema worse.

It is best to avoid cosmetics and toiletries if you can. If you do use them, then you may want to try the product out on the inside of your wrist before you buy it. Then buy the smallest amount possible until you are happy that it is right for you.

Everyone’s skin is different and some people find they have to try many different products to find something that suits their eczema.

I find that make-up can make my eczema worse, so I try to put on as little as possible or only use it on special occasions.

My dermatologist told me that some lighter pigment lipsticks are usually okay but the dark pigments are problematic for contact allergy.


Can I use hair dye?

Hair dyes have many things in them that you could be allergic to. Your body’s defence system over-reacts to these things as though they were harmful. If this happens, the skin on your head, neck and face may feel itchy and sore.

You may get hives, or you may feel generally unwell. This can happen to anyone using hair dye, but is more likely to happen in people with eczema.

Severe symptoms that need hospital treatment may happen straight away. These symptoms may include difficutly breathing, swelling of the tongue, swelling or tightness in the throat, difficulty in talking, wheeze or cough and/or persistent dissizness.  Mild symptoms can show up two days later.

Click on the options below to find out what to do if you want to dye your hair:

What is the best way to shave or remove hair?

People with eczema may need to take more care with shaving so that it doesn’t make their eczema worse. Shaving using an electric razor may not give as close a shave as a wet razor, but it is much less likely to nick or cut your skin. Some people find that a hair or beard trimmer set to low is softer on the skin than a shaver. When wet shaving, it’s best to use a sharp razor that is made for sensitive skin. Razors that have been used a lot will rub the skin and it may sting your skin. It’s best to put a thin moisturising cream on your skin before shaving and then put more on again after.

Sometimes I get a flare-up after shaving. When I do, I just use some flare control creams for a few nights and that helps.


Some shaving foams and gels can make your eczema worse. Many people with eczema find it helpful to use their moisturising creams instead when wet shaving. Just use it like a shaving foam, making sure you use lots of water to lather it up. You can use your moisturising creams for shaving any part of your body, such as your face, bikini area, underarms, and legs.

It’s best to shave downwards, in the same direction that the hair is growing. Going in the opposite direction of the hair can cause red and sore spots, which can become infected.

Shave slowly and try not to shave over the areas you have already shaved. After shaving, put on moisturising creams to soothe the skin.

Some people with eczema find that epilators (an electric device to remove hair) can make the skin feel itchy. Hair removal creams and waxing may also make your eczema worse. You may want to try them out on a small area of skin first.

Beauty treatments, such as laser hair removal, that stop hair from ever growing back can also make your eczema worse.

You may want to try it on a small area of skin first to see if it makes your eczema worse

Can I use acne treatments?

People with eczema may also have acne. Some acne treatments can make eczema worse by drying your skin out. You may want to avoid acne lotions with alcohol in because they tend to make eczema worse. Acne gels and creams may be better for you. If you have acne, speak to your doctor or pharmacist to find the right treatment for you. Thick moisturising creams may make acne worse, so you might want to try a thinner moisturiser. Flare control creams can also make your acne worse if you put them on areas of skin where you tend to get acne. You could try to avoid putting these creams on the acne areas.

Can I get a tattoo?

Tattoos can’t be put on areas of skin with eczema on. The tattoo area will need to be covered with cling film at first. Then you can’t scratch your skin for up to two weeks as it heals. This may be hard to do if you have eczema. The tattoo ink contains things you may be allergic to and these can cause long-term problems. The heat from the tattoo needle and the skin damage may also cause an eczema flare-up. If you are thinking of getting a tattoo, then ask advice from a licensed tattoo artist at a licensed shop. Remember tattoos are forever and reactions to the ink are more common if you have eczema. Even if your eczema is not that bad, you are more likely to get a reaction than people without eczema. You also have a higher risk of getting a skin infection.

What about wool, metal, latex and condoms?

Products made of certain materials are more likely to cause an eczema flare-up. Click on a material below to find out more: