Taking care of your skin when you’re ill – lupus.

I know I’ve been a little quiet on here recently, and uploading more videos than normal. One of the reasons for that is that I can film videos in bulk and edit and put them up over a longer period of time, in essence, saving a lot of time for more important things, such as family.

As some of you already know, my Mum has had lupus for a long time. In recent years it has taken more of a toll on her, in terms of her energy levels and general well-being. She is notoriously private, and has never been comfortable with me talking about her/the illness publicly, but in recent months, frustrations with people not understanding the disease have pushed her to her limits and she ‘no longer cares. Tell everyone. Talk to everyone. I’m sick of the lack of information and awareness even in the medical profession.’.

In short, lupus is an incurable disease of the immune system where the body mistakenly attacks its own healthy tissue. The symptoms are wide and varied and it can take years for someone to be diagnosed. Lupus sufferers are frequently dismissed as hypochondriacs, and alienated from their friends and family who simply don’t understand the issues faced by sufferers.

To look at a person with lupus, you may not see any outward signs of any illness, and Mum and I do get some odd looks when we get out of the car in a disabled spot, because, well, look at her. Disabled doesn’t just mean ‘your legs don’t work’, but don’t get me started on that one. My rage is better channeled elsewhere. The people giving us questioning looks don’t see me practically carrying her back to the car an hour later because she’s already peaked in terms of energy, and has to spend the next few days in bed recovering.

One of the most common symptoms of lupus however, is the rash on the face. Mum has the rash everywhere on her body, except the most common area affected, her face. She swears this is down to her intuitive use of good skincare and a consistent routine, no matter how ill she is feeling. (It’s worth mentioning at this point that Mum previously worked in the beauty industry, and was also obsessed with skin, she’s a pro.) She is currently in the middle of a really bad flare-up, her hair is falling out and she spends a lot of time in bed, but her face is still rash-free.

I thought it might be helpful to talk about how she cares for her skin on a daily basis, and some of her favourite products.*
Some notes:

  • Mum favours really rich moisturisers, but doesn’t like oil on her face.
  • She also uses expensive products (‘I don’t care. I’m old. I’ll use what I bloody well want. And I want to use them.’), so I’ve included some potential budget suggestions at the bottom of the post.
  • This is what works for Mum, lupus is an extremely complicated illness and I am in no way attempting to suggest that buying all of these products will make your rash fade/go away. As you will well know if you are a sufferer yourself, everything is excruciatingly individual. I will try and answer as many comments as possible underneath if that might help you find a good routine for you within your budget. (And if you have lupus, you have my endless support and never-ending empathy and sympathy. It is an utter bastard, and heart-breaking to watch someone you love live with it.)

Cleansing & Toning – twice daily with Lancome Galateis Douceur, followed by Tonique Douceur. She loves the Bi-Facil Visage to remove her eye makeup. No she doesn’t use my cleanser, she hates oil and balms, she only uses the cream side. I use up the balm side when I’m there.. 😉 She’s a Lancome girl through and through and has bought the range for over 30 years.

Acids – the only acid products Mum uses are the Zelens PHA Pads and the Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol. She never uses glycolic (under my advisement) and only uses these products very rarely and sparingly, when her lupus is not flaring up.

EyesZelens Triple Action, La Mer The Eye Concentrate are both recommended, but more for general lines and wrinkles. Nothing will fix the dark circles that come with this disease. They’re a sign to the outside world that you are seriously unwell, and no cream will fix that. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar.

SerumsLa Mer The Concentrate is one of her favourites. Too expensive to use all the time, she saves it for when she’s in the midst of a flare-up. Zelens Youth Concentrate is an old favourite, she has used that for years (Special shout-out to Dr Lens, who keeps Mum in stock, and to whom I am eternally grateful.). Mum will dabble with other serums, usually sent by me saying ‘Try it!’, but if pressed, would stick to Zelens and La Mer.

Moisturiser – unlike in my usual routines, in lupus, this is most important part of the routine as the skin – especially the acid mantle, is so compromised, that helping to restore the normal barrier function is the main priority. This is where Mum happily spends most of her budget and she goes for the feel-good factor too, seeing as it is one of the few things she can do to actually make herself feel a little better on a day-to-day basis.
There are a few (expensive) favourites here:
Sisley Supremya Baume – ‘like I had plastic surgery overnight’. Due to the price, Mum hasn’t repurchased this, but she talks about it all the time. This is her ‘if money were no object’ product.
Zelens Stem Complex – ‘blissful, calms my skin immediately. I’m GLOWING’.
Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream – ‘beautiful and perfect under my makeup. My skin looks so good after this.’
Chantecaille BioDynamic Lifting Cream – when I ran Chantecaille in the UK (years ago) I gave Mum a salon size pot of this and she still talks about it wistfully, as if it’s my fault that she doesn’t have access to the big sizes anymore because I left the brand. 😉

SPF is not required as Mum is one of the 60% of lupus sufferers that suffers light sensitivity. She can only go out briefly in the early morning or late afternoon. The sun literally makes her ill and causes an almost immediate flare-up so she avoids it all costs, even keeping the shutters/curtains closed at home when the sun is shining on the house.

If you have similar skin complaints, or even suffer from lupus and need more affordable options, I would look to the following brands:

REN – in particular the Vita Mineral range. Mum has used this and likes it.
Avene – A lot of Avene is appropriate, but this range is particularly good for red and dry skins. Note: the inclusion of mineral oil in Avene is not a great concern if you have lupus. Your acid mantle is potentially totally shot and you need the barrier.
La Roche Posay – Nutritic is great for the dryness.


More information on lupus can be found here: Lupus/Wikipedia

And support here: LupusUK



*None of this is sponsored, most of the products are paid for by Mum (I keep her topped up with some bits, Zelens etc), and all of them are her choices. I haven’t affiliated this post. I’m not making money out of my Mother’s illness.