Our daily routines have drastically changed. It’s no surprise our skin is feeling it, too.
When I think about the relationship I have with my skin, it’s been, at best, rocky.
I was diagnosed with severe acne in my teenage years, and the faux leather chairs of a dermatology office waiting room became a second home. I’d wait patiently for yet another doctor who would suggest that I’d “hopefully grow out of it.” My confidence (and skin) was in tatters.
And yet, as I hit my mid-20s, I did grow out of it.
My skin started to change and, despite the telltale scarring, I could pretty much say I was happy with my complexion. Which is why I was so surprised by its recent decline.
Surely, I reasoned, without makeup and the daily pollution of a commute, my skin should be thriving?
However, it appears I’m not alone in dealing with “lockdown skin.”
Luckily, dermatologist and cosmetic nurse Louise Walsh, known as The Skin Nurse, and skin care blogger and photographer Emma Hoareau are on hand to explain why our skin is feeling a little unhappy right now.
Considering that our daily routines have drastically changed, it’s not a surprise that our skin is also feeling the effects. Walsh explains that there are multiple reasons why this change is hitting our skin hard.
Stressed out skin
In Walsh’s opinion, anxiety is a big factor. “A lot of us have been feeling the stress of this situation, and our worries can actually take a physical toll on our skin,” she says.
“When we’re stressed, we produce the hormone cortisol, which causes inflammation and excess oil production, which, in turn, causes us to break out,” Walsh explains.
The side effects of stress, such as lack of sleep, reduced appetite, and a few more glasses of wine than usual, are also culprits in the return of spots.
To keep the stress at bay, try some relaxation techniques to find calm.
Bye bye, routine
A drastic change in routine like the one we’re experiencing is enough to set off a change in our skin. Our bodies are expecting one thing and getting another entirely.
You can get your rhythm back on track by finding the new normal in your day to day.
Whether it’s eating meals at the same time, taking walks, or blocking your working hours, structuring your day can make a big difference.
You may be used to waking up every day, showering, and getting dressed but now find yourself in pajamas since lockdown started.
Making things more “normal” by dressing for the day, even though you aren’t going anywhere, can help you feel like the days aren’t bleeding together.
Missing the sun
Your skin may also be used to the sunshine. It’s important to keep spending time outdoors, even if it’s just a walk around the block.
Just remember that sun exposure is still a concern.
“As a part-time dermatologist for the NHS (the U.K.’s National Health Service), I see a lot of people suffering from skin cancer,” Walsh says. “I can’t stress the importance of wearing sun cream or a moisturizer with an SPF built in every day. UV rays can still make their way through our windows, so it’s really important that we continue to do this.”
Walsh also highlights the importance of vitamin D.
“It is really important to almost all aspects of our skin. From helping cell development to reducing inflammation, if we can’t get outside the way we used to, our skin is going to feel a bit unhappy,” she says.
Can vitamin D supplements help?
“They certainly won’t cause any harm. And, if you don’t have access to outdoor space, it’s worth taking them,” Walsh advises.
Be sure to consider the safety of any supplements you take. Ask your doctor about correct dosage and possible interactions. You can also get your vitamin D from foods like salmon, egg yolks, and mushrooms.
Take a spa day
“It’s very easy to say ‘reduce your stress levels,’ but a lot harder to do in practice,” Walsh says. “However, doing daily exercise can really help oxygenate the skin as well as lift our mood.”
Hoareau agrees. “It’s a really good time to incorporate facial massage into our skin care regimens, as it can help with circulation. Your body can’t get rid of toxins if it’s not circulating properly, which can lead to more breakouts,” she says.
Let it flow
Both Hoareau and Walsh agree hydration plays a part in your skin’s health.
Even when grocery store shelves are sparse, we can make sure we’re getting enough water. Water helps flush out toxins and keeps our bowel movements regular.
It also lubricates the joints, regulates body temperature, and aids in nutrient absorption.
Keep it simple
I, like many others, went a bit more aggressive than usual in terms of a skin care routine. I’ve been breezing through at least four face masks a week, assuming this would rapidly improve my skin.
But Walsh explains: “Using too many products can be part of the problem! I tell my clients to keep things simple right now. Stick with easy-to-use hydrating sheet masks, cleanser, and daily showering. But, most importantly, stay away from bad skin habits, such as plucking, picking, and squeezing breakouts.”
Finally, Walsh adds, “This won’t last forever, and we need to give our skin a bit of patience. It will settle once you find yourself in a new routine.”
After our chat, I decided to put down my third face mask of the day and simply let my skin be. With this advice, I’ll attempt to muster up a bit more patience — and treat my skin with the kindness we’re all trying to show each other.
Charlotte Moore is a freelance writer and assistant editor of Restless Magazine. She is based in Manchester, England.