No one talks about how eczema makes you feel.
One of the clearest memories I have of my eczema was from the third grade. It was a crazy day. I was about to sit at my desk when my teacher asked me to pack my things because I was transferred to a new class. As we walked across the hall, I was told I was moving to an accelerated class because of my high test scores. For a moment I felt proud, special, and smart. I followed my teacher into the room and she introduced me to my new teacher, who introduced me to the class and then asked me to take the empty seat near the back.
As I walked to my seat, the nerves kicked in. Everything looked different from my old classroom. The desks were arranged differently. I didn’t recognize anyone. It was all brand new. I took my seat, and my new teacher announced we were taking a quiz. I immediately had the urge to pee. A quiz on what, I thought? I just got here, I thought. From the front of the classroom, my new teacher told me not to worry the test won’t count for me but to do my best.
I remember looking at the test and feeling out of my league. There was double the number of questions I was used to and I had no clue about the subject. The rest of the class seemed unbothered, appearing to fly through the exam. I was a mess and nervously rubbed my forehead. That morning my mom reminded me not to touch my face. I was experiencing a flare that I knew I shouldn’t irritate, but my nerves got the best of me. The more nervous I got, the more I rubbed. That’s when I noticed the boy across from me was watching me. I took a deep breath, looked up, and tried to smile. He looked back at me, made a face then said, “Ew, you look like a monster!”
No one talks about that part. How a passing reaction to your skin’s appearance breaks your spirit. How your skin becomes a worry. Something to hide to spare yourself from the comments, questions, or just plain rudeness. Living with eczema is uncomfortable. Beyond how it looks, the itch is worst. It’s hard to express how uncomfortable you are, especially for a child. It’s hard to describe how self-conscience you feel because you’re worried about what people might say.
That feeling I had when that boy in my class made that off-hand remark was the same feeling I had when I realized my grandson’s eczema is like mine. My protective parental instincts kicked in. I wanted to shield my grandson from future anxiety, and pour strength and knowledge into my daughter. I took what I knew from my journey, building on that knowledge to create natural cleansers and moisturizers to help the skin heal and stay healthy longer.
As I did the work I realized the cosmetic industry downplays the benefits of plant-based ingredients. Accredited sources affirm there is less investment in the research of plant-derived ingredients than the synthetic equivalent. This lack of evidence implies that plant-based ingredients are less effective and unproven. These studies don’t show these same ingredients are used around the world and have been for generations. Plant-based ingredients are just as effective today.
I founded The Butter Project as a love letter to everyone on their clear skin journey. I want you to know I know what it’s like. We’re taking this journey together, and it’s not over.