Kerry Washington has lived with eczema since she was a child. “I’ve struggled with sensitive, dry skin since before I can remember,” she recently told Yahoo! Life. Now, at 46, the actor has found some relief, thanks, in part, to an ingredient that seems to be popping up in every cleanser, serum, and cream.
“I’m learning to really embrace hyaluronic acid,” she said. “It has truly transformed the way that I’m able to care for my skin and how my skin looks and feels.” (Note: Washington is a Neutrogena ambassador, and hyaluronic acid is the brand’s hero ingredient.)
The science backs her up on this: Eczema, a condition that affects about 31 million people in the US, typically manifests as dryness, itching, and inflammation, often due to a compromised skin barrier—the protective layer of your skin that keeps the harmful stuff out and the good stuff, like necessary moisture, in. Maintaining hydration with an ingredient like hyaluronic acid, a humectant that draws a ton of water to the surface of the skin, can be key for not only managing flare-ups, but keeping that barrier healthy in general.
Because certain forms of eczema can be triggered by allergens and irritants, like fragrances and dyes, it usually responds best to gentle skin care, as SELF previously reported. Other soothing ingredients that can ease itchy, dry, or otherwise sensitive skin include glycerin (another humectant that reduces moisture loss), ceramides (which reinforce the skin’s structure), colloidal oatmeal (an anti-inflammatory), and petrolatum (an occlusive that seals in hydration and acts as a protective barrier), among others.
For Washington, Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Body Cream, is “really effective,” she told Today, and she’s also fond of the Hydro Boost Gel Cream, she told The Zoe Report. (The star ingredient in both moisturizers is, you guessed it, hyaluronic acid.) As for the rest of her routine, the 46-year-old keeps it simple with cleanser, sunscreen during the day, and retinol at night.
For occasional breakouts, she turns to pimple patches. “I can be a bit of a picker when it comes to blemishes, which is such a bad habit,” she said. “I think it comes from, as a kid, having eczema and always itching and scratching—that sort of sensory, tactile thing.”
Outside of slathering on lotions, Washington told Yahoo! Life that her glow also comes from an overall focus on wellness: sleep, hydration, exercise, meditation, the works.
She especially struggles with stress (a known eczema trigger), and does her best to manage it with lots of self-care, including therapy. Getting enough rest is a biggie too. “Taking care of skin is really a holistic job,” she said. “Sometimes that [looks] like cocooning in my bubble bath and taking it easy.”