6 Tips for Dressing Professionally with Psoriasis in Fall
With the arrival of fall, many of us are gearing up for a seasonal wardrobe update. But for the 7.5 million adults living with psoriasis in the United States, cool-weather flare-ups and flakes can make what should be a fun shopping spree another source of stress.
Red, itchy skin and visible plaques aren’t just uncomfortable—they could also hurt your mental health, sinking your mood and self-esteem, and even making it difficult to show up for work. But a carefully chosen hairstyle and outfit could help take attention away from points of insecurity and work wonders for your self-confidence.
How to Dress Your Best for Work When You Have Psoriasis
Despite the fact that flakes have nothing to do with personal hygiene or cleanliness, they can feel embarrassing and distracting, regardless of whether your colleagues notice them. Here, people living with psoriasis as well as a personal stylist share half a dozen ways you can dress well for work, no matter your skin status.
Start at the Source with Flake-Reducing Products
Any time your psoriasis symptoms worsen (like when the weather gets chilly), step one is to check in with your doctor or care team to adjust your approach accordingly. They may be able to recommend or prescribe a treatment that reduces your symptoms significantly.
To reduce flakiness from scalp psoriasis, Niamh Jordan, 28, a Brooklyn-based editor, recommends using the products in the Briogeo Scalp Revival scalp care essentials kit, which includes her favorite, the Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo. She says they’re her go-to products because they’re free from harsh ingredients and are gentle on her hair and scalp. The products are made to exfoliate away flakes and moisturize the scalp with ingredients like coconut oil and tea tree oil.
Consider Adding Texture or Color to Your Hair
Some days, you get out of the shower, blow-dry your hair, and still see flakes galore. If this sounds familiar, consider treating yourself to a new hairstyle with plenty of volume and texture thanks to curls, waves, layers, or braids. Niamh, for example, says she styles her hair in a wavy bob, which adds visual interest and keeps the focus away from her scalp psoriasis. “I find this hairstyle hides my flaky scalp best,” she says.
Another option: Check out coloring options like balayage highlights, which are painted on in shades that are slightly lighter than your base color and add brightness and dimension.
“Being a natural brunette, my scalp psoriasis is extremely noticeable, so when my hair is a lighter brunette or blond, the flakiness is almost camouflaged,” says Claire Elizabeth, a 24-year-old junior sommelier living in Essex, England. “Personally, the hair dye doesn’t affect my scalp, so I’m happy to have my hair colored.”
Layer Over Light, Nonirritating Fabrics
“On flare-up days, I want to make sure I am very comfortable at work,” Niamh says, “so I only wear soft, natural fabrics.” Flexible work-to-workout wear may be popular for some people, but synthetic fabrics, like nylon, polyester, and rayon, can cling to and irritate sensitive skin, which is not what you want. Wool sweaters are also infamous for triggering a relentless itch.
To avoid skin irritation, there’s no need to throw out these fabrics altogether. You can stock up on base layers like undershirts made of cotton or silk to protect your skin from more abrasive materials.
Choose Silhouettes That Give Your Skin Room to Breathe
Samantha Harman, 32, an editor-turned-personal stylist based in Oxford, England, says for her, dressing during flare-ups is about being able to put on creams without staining lovely clothes. Her fix? Go sleeveless or choose styles that reduce potentially agitating contact between your clothes and skin. Think: loose tops and pants, or flowy skirts or dresses.
Whether you show your skin during a flare-up is a personal choice—some people feel comfortable doing it, and others would prefer to cover up. Samantha points out that exposing your skin could increase your physical comfort and also help destigmatize the condition. “I think the more we see psoriasis, the more we can normalize it, and people won’t need to feel ashamed,” she says.
Lighten Your Color Scheme
That said, it’s perfectly understandable if your main goal is to draw attention away from a flare-up. If that’s the case, pick out light, cool-colored tops and avoid anything with a red pigment or undertone, suggests Samantha. Warm colors like reds and pinks could intensify the appearance of red skin, while lighter colors like white and green can reflect off the skin and visually tone down some of the redness.
You may also try mixing in different textures and patterns, like a chunky sweater, a plaid flannel, or floral patterns, so people are more likely to look at your clothes than your skin.
Get Creative with Eye-Catching Accessories
Claire says that, although accepting her condition has made showing her skin easier, she still feels self-conscious about her scalp. Her fix: “I always wear earrings; it’s a little thing, which draws the attention away from my scalp psoriasis.”
For challenging days, statement pieces like stylish hats, scarves, shawls, coats, or even footwear like chunky boots or sleek heels could help increase your confidence and showcase your personal style. Ultimately, the best advice is to wear what you feel comfortable in, Claire says.
No matter your symptoms, you deserve to look and feel good. A sharp haircut and some new threads are a great place to start.
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