Mandy Moore Gets Candid About a Private Health Struggle
This Is Us star Mandy Moore was diagnosed with a condition that affects 21 million Americans. Here she shares what she finds most healing.
For actress, singer and songwriter Mandy Moore, sitting in the makeup chair has been routine since 1999 when the then-16-year-old’s single “Candy” hit radio waves and MTV. That’s why a few years ago when her skin started itching and peeling around her eyes, she brushed it off as cosmetics-related.
Then in 2019, Moore was diagnosed with atopic dermatitis (AD), the most common form of eczema. Eczema is a chronic condition that affects 21 million people in the U.S. over the age of 12. The Mayo Clinic notes that atopic dermatitis in particular can trigger further health issues, such as food allergies, asthma and hay fever.
Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra, MD, MSc, MPH, has been working on the Moments of Clarity campaign alongside Moore in partnership with Incyte to raise awareness about eczema treatments. (Moore does not take the medication.) Dr. Batra explains some science that makes eczema so complex: “People who have a disrupted barrier of their skin, meaning it’s not sealed against all the irritants and infectious agents and all the things that your skin is meant to keep on the outside, out,” she says. Dr. Batra adds that the “little cracks and fissures” that eczema can cause allow “all these irritants come in. That’s what it wields: The itching, the redness, the dry scaly patches. The immune system goes into overdrive,” this dermatologist explains. “It is more common to have eczema as a child,” Dr. Batra says, “but you certainly can have adult onset and in adults it’s slightly more common in women than men.”
For National Eczema Awareness Month, Mandy Moore—today a 39-year-old boy mom of two with her musician husband Taylor Goldsmith, whom she married in 2018—spoke with The Healthy @Reader’s Digest about her diagnosis, her self-care routine (lots of baths!) and the gift of time at home with her family.
The Healthy @Reader’s Digest: October is National Eczema Awareness Month. Tell me a little bit about the type of eczema that you have and how you were diagnosed.
Mandy Moore: A couple of years ago, I noticed the skin on my face was really red and dry, just inflamed, irritated, itchy, peeling sometimes. I thought, I’m working a lot. I’m wearing makeup a lot. Maybe it has something to do with that. Maybe I’m having some sort of allergic reaction. I couldn’t really pinpoint it.
I couldn’t find relief, and that was what drew me to going to the dermatologist, where I was diagnosed with atopic dermatitis. Then I started to recognize some of the things that would trigger a flare-up for me. A lot of it is really seasonal, like we’re moving into the colder, drier months, and that for me is when my eczema tends to flare up a lot. Stress and sometimes certain things that I ate would maybe exacerbate my skin feeling even more irritated.
The Healthy: You mentioned stress. What in your life do you think triggered the stress response?
Mandy Moore: I think I have a working awareness now that I didn’t pre-children. Really a lot of the environmental things, really paring down my skincare routine has helped a lot. I feel like I was throwing the entire kitchen sink at my face for so long, trying to figure out what was going to work for me. I’ve found that a less-is-more approach has yielded the most positive results.
I just think all of our health in general is benefited by finding ways to decrease our stress. I’m not always the best at it. I’ve also found that paying attention to my diet helps. I’m really conscientious about eating things that are high in omega-3s, I love anything probiotic like yogurts and kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi. Recognizing the gut connection and what that has to do with my skin has also been really helpful in terms of teaming down the flares and stuff.
The Healthy: As somebody who is on-set a lot with makeup artists putting a bunch of stuff on your face, do you bring your own products now? Are you a clean beauty junkie?
Mandy Moore: A clean beauty junkie. I think that is partly due to the eczema, but also partly due to being a mom and just sort of the general awareness. I think when I became pregnant and was like, Oh, my skin is my largest organ. I want to be very conscientious about what I’m putting on my body, which then goes into my body. So I am a clean beauty freak and I do bring products, or I talk to a makeup artist before a job. I look for anything that’s just not going to be irritating with dyes and fragrances and that sort of stuff.
The Healthy: Outside of skincare, what is one self-care ritual that you refuse to skip?
Mandy Moore: I feel like it sort of looks different every day, whether it’s giving myself permission to have an extra cup of coffee or take a bath after I put the kids down. I’d say baths are probably my big one. I turn on the bath, and sometimes have a glass of wine. Sometimes I’ll put a podcast on, I’ll light candles.
The Healthy: You mentioned your diet and eating a lot of food that’s good for the gut. How else do nutrition, diet and fitness look for you?
Mandy Moore: I have to tell you, I need to make it a little bit more of a priority. I feel like I’ve let it slip these last few months. It’s a whole different story underneath these clothes—a mushy mess. I give myself a little bit of grace and permission for different seasons of our life to look a little bit different.
The Healthy: We all should!
Mandy Moore: I’m chasing after two kiddos and spent the summer at home with them. I’ve really just enjoyed this delicious time of being together. My oldest guy is off at preschool now. My little guy is about to start walking. I’m starting to turn that corner where I’m about to have a little bit more freedom and mobility in my life to turn the camera back on myself, and I’m ready to take 2024 by the horns and recommit myself to getting back into a practical exercise routine. We live in southern California, so we’re always walking and we’re always at parks and we’re always outside.
The Healthy: It took me a full two years to feel like myself after having kids, and my youngest is in preschool now. What helped you postpartum, both physically and mentally?
Mandy Moore: I know everyone’s experience is different, but I went back to work with both of these little dudes very shortly thereafter, and so my experience is just jumping back into life and trying to juggle a little bit of everything and trying to find some semblance of balance. Not always nailing it, not always feeling like I’m firing on all cylinders, but I think that helped me still stay rooted-in, connected to part of my identity pre-parenthood and pre-motherhood that I’ve found helpful. And I love, love that side of myself, and it’s always going to be a part of who I am. So I’ve loved just jumping back into life.
The Healthy: That will resonate for a lot of parents!
Mandy Moore: I’ve also really appreciated these past few months with work being a bit quieter for various reasons. The silver lining, personally speaking, is just that I’ve had all of this time at home and I’ve loved just being in full parent mode.
The Healthy: That’s wonderful. You also sing and perform with your husband a lot, you had an album come out last year. Your music clearly influences each other. Have you influenced each other’s health and wellness in any ways, as well?
Mandy Moore: Oh, yeah. My husband is way better about that than I am. When I met him, he was on a bulletproof train. He’s super healthy. He’s the kind of guy that will pop a can of sardines in the morning. He’s just very conscientious about his health. He’s worried about his cholesterol. He is worried about all that sort of stuff, which I very much appreciate. So I feel like I have him as a great influence. He’s always exercising. I am going to be able to lean on him in terms of having a good support system and good partner who is very attuned to his body and help, and we both share that.
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