Having gauged a fairly consistent consensus from social media over the last couple of weeks, there’s a fair few of us who are suffering from what we are duly dubbing “quarantine skin”. Dryness, redness, itching, eczema and break-outs have all made a solid reappearance recently, and if like us you’re wondering why your skin is deciding now is the time to play up, then read on to find out what’s going on…
Have you more frequently been feeling a tightness after washing your face? Or seeing flaky areas of skin on your face, particularly towards the end of the day? There’s a number of reasons this has coincided with self-isolation. First up: no fresh air! You might think, especially you city-dwellers, that avoiding public transport will reduce the chances of bad skin from pollution. You would be correct, but even the small amount of natural air moisture and Vitamin D from the daylight that we get from walking from a station to the office or heading out to pick up lunch makes a huge difference. Next, typically March-April are the months where although the air temperature outside is warming up, it’s often still cool inside so we’ve still got the heating coming on occasionally; this too will be gradually drying out your skin throughout the day.
There’s a small chance that you may have been indulging in virtual drinks more often than you would have gone for IRL drinks as the ease of connecting on Zoom or Skype means plans generally require minimal effort. Alcohol is a toxin for the body and its main effect (post-jolliness) is to dehydrate you. As a natural diuretic, it makes you need to wee and with it leads to the excretion of your natural salts, vitamins and minerals. The lowered levels cause other parts of the body to become imbalanced and dehydrated.
What can you do? Dryness shouldn’t last for too long, so don’t worry too much - it will pass as you establish a new routine and react instinctively to the dryness by slathering on a naturally deep-hydrating moisturiser overnight. Using a gentle facial exfoliator more regularly will also help to alleviate the flakiness of skin whilst you use your products and diet to help to tackle the cause.
Around 95% of people between ages 11 and 30 are affected by acne to some extent, and this continues beyond the age of 30 for about 40-50% of us (NHS, 2018). If you’re suddenly experiencing breakouts, whether that’s actual spots or those nasty under-surface bumps, there’s a couple of things to consider: have you let your skincare routine go a little, or have you ramped it up? A drastic change in either affects the normal balance of your skin and it’ll react whilst it adjusts to the new routine.
Anxiety and stress caused by the current situation also has an effect on our skin, the body’s natural reaction to those emotions is to increase the amount of cortisol released. Cortisol helps with maintaining a steady blood pressure and increases the amount of glucose in the blood, preparing us for our fight or flight response, our natural reaction to stressful experiences. A side-effect of cortisol is increased oil production in the skin which can clog pores and result in trapped bacteria.
What can you do? Try to re-balance your skincare routine in response to how your skin is feeling and don’t worry, unless you already suffer, it’s unlikely to be long-term acne emerging. If you’re seeing a little more oil, use a drier cleanser and ensure you’re washing your face thoroughly morning and night.
The same issues that are likely to be causing spots apply here. Redness usually occurs in patches on the face, high on the cheeks and around the mouth are most common and are more often than not a result of either a change in skincare routine (how many new face masks have you tried this month?!) or a stress response. Stress lowers the response of some parts of our immune systems which leads to inflammation and the increase in hormone production, such as cortisol, which impacts the skin.
Although we are encouraging all kinds of pampering to keep ourselves feeling calm and content right now, trying out lots of different face masks or suddenly indulging in a 15-step skincare routine of a morning isn’t going to have the immediate desired effect on your skin. It’s like changing to a new diet, making a sudden change to a super healthy diet makes you grouchy and results in pooping worryingly often for at least the first week.
What can you do? Introduce new products slowly, work out which ones are actually having a positive effect; if you want to try new facemasks start with one a week and see how your skin reacts to that, gradually introduce some other ingredients. Our previous blog on kitchen-based masks has a few gentle recipes to start you off. To tackle the actual inflammation, choose gentle products that have anti-inflammatory ingredients; some lovely anti-inflammatory essential oils include Lavender, Rosehip, Camomile and Sweet Orange. Immediate tricks also include putting a cool cloth, or cold herbal tea bags over the red areas to reduce surface inflammation.
If any of these skin niggles sound familiar, please don’t fret, you are not alone! It’s unlikely that your condition is serious enough to need to seek advice from a doctor or dermatologist at this time but do make sure you keep an eye on any symptoms that seem to last for a prolonged period of time.
Stay safe, well and moisturised!