Let’s start with some good news for your skin; not going outside means you’re not exposing it to some of city life’s aggressors you’d normally encounter on a daily basis. Toxins such as smog and air pollution (which is the second biggest aggressor to your skin preceded only by the sun) that wreak havoc on your skin and lead to premature aging are now out of the equation. While the earth and the environment seem to be taking a breath of fresh air, with wildlife roaming the city's empty locked-down streets and dolphins returning to the Venice Canals (even if that one did end up being fake news) one would think our skin would be taking a breather too.
And yet, have you also found yourself asking what is happening to your face? It seems like there’s a new pimple here, a new wrinkle there, and red splotches everywhere. Maybe we're just spending more of our generous amounts of free time scrutinizing our appearance in the mirror, or maybe our skin is indeed acting differently in these strange times.
So what actually is happening to our skin during quarantine and more importantly, what can we do about it? Keep reading to learn about common skin conditions in the times of self-isolation and how to combat them.
You’re Stressing Out and Breaking Out
Your mental wellness does affect your skin and in today’s uncertain climate, our anxiety and stress levels may understandably be higher than normal. Have you noticed a pesky pimple pop up in a spot usually reserved for pristine skin? This acne could all be stress-related.
While stress isn’t the only cause for acne, it triggers these unsightly symptoms (aka pimples) and makes them even worse. Not only that, while it may seem ironic given how conscious we’ve recently become about not touching our faces, we may actually be doing so more often now that we’re out of the public eye and in our home offices. Not having anyone around may actually give us the privacy and liberty for more touching, picking, and popping - things we wouldn’t do otherwise around others. Thus, you are adding excess oil from your hands to your already sensitive face (and spirit).
Although it may feel more daunting than ever to find a way to relax amidst a global pandemic, there are tools like this guide to breathing that will help you stay calm or these podcasts that will ease your mind. Your skin will thank you for a few moments of serenity.
Screentime is Killing Your Skin
While we all know the devastating damage sun can cause, little less known is the effects of blue light from our phones and screens. Although we can’t see the immediate effects, these may be the most lasting ones. Celebrity skincare doctor Dr. Barabara Sturm says High Energy Visible Light (HEV) from our computers, TVs, and phones penetrate the dermis deeply and are potentially more harmful than the sun’s rays (!!).
While limiting screen time these days may seem like the most unattainable goal of them all, there are small steps one can take. Keep your phone away from your bed at night, and instead of scrolling first thing in the morning, read a chapter from one of these book recommendations.
And while we’re talking about light protection - SPF shouldn’t be forgotten just because we’re indoors. There are two types of skin-damage inducing sun rays - UVA (long ray) and UVB (short ray). While windows filter out UVB rays, UVA rays can still shine through and cause photo-aging.
Your Face is Dehydrated
It may not be the first thing one thinks about, but being indoors means you’re constantly either in central heating or air conditioning, either of which may be drying out your skin. That coupled with skipping on your skincare routine (anyone else falling asleep on the couch?), and not drinking enough water may be leaving your face more dehydrated and flaky than usual. Alternately, with all this time at home, you may be overwashing your skin and stripping it of its natural oils, in turn making it irritated and feel dry. It's easy to conclude that we as a collective (and are skin) are all over the place.
Consider getting a humidifier to add moisture into your space, wash your face with a gentle cleanser and opt for a rich moisturizer such as this one.
Your Skin Is Extra Puffy
As much as you try to keep a normal schedule (p.s. have you read these tips on working from home?) quarantine these days may feel like a constant jet lag. Not having a consistent schedule may be causing you to sleep less or harm the quality of your sleep, thus making your face appear puffier. Add that to the two stages of coffee o’clock and wine o’clock that has taken over this period, and you’ve got yourself a puffy face in the morning that may last into your third Zoom call.
Apart from clocking in those zzz’s, a quick trick for making your face appear less puffy is to put your face cream in the fridge and apply it cold. Influencers and facialists also swear by giving yourself a lymphatic drainage massage with tools like gua-sha and jade rollers, or simply doing it a la hands.
Salty foods and our changed eating habits may also be a culprit for inflammation. If you’re looking for some nourishing eating tips, check out the healthiest things you should have in your fridge.
Our skin is our largest organ and often the first to let us know how we’re doing on the inside. Make sure to check in with yourself (and the mirror), and listen kindly and patiently to what your skin is telling you.