With so many people continuing to stay home to flatten the curve, self-care rituals are experiencing an even greater resurgence. But while we’re taking care to wash our hands more frequently, that doesn’t necessarily mean our overall personal hygiene and grooming is at an all-time high. Some of us are showering less often than before due to furlough or disrupted work schedules, while others aren’t inclined to get gussied up if they’re only staying in.
But in the midst of so much stress, caring for yourself — and specifically, your skin — can have a lot of benefits. Not only will you feel more confident when you log onto your Zooom meeting portal, but you’ll really get a chance to experience that quarantine glow-up (even if no one can see half your face due to your cloth mask).
Stick to Your Routine
It’s definitely not easy to maintain your usual schedule with so many changes happening. If you’re feeling anxious about the daily news or your days aren’t taken up by working at the office, it might not take too long for you to get out of your usual routine. That, coupled with the stress we all feel on a near-constant basis, can result in tired, dull, or broken-out skin.
Don’t forget that adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night and that you should be drinking plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. Continue to wear sunscreen, even if you don’t venture outside, and maintain a nutritious diet. Processed foods and dairy products can often be a trigger for breakouts, so keep things as natural as possible and avoid excessive sugar to keep your skin clear. Sticking to your workout routine, even if you can’t go to the gym, can also help keep your hormones in check — as long as you shower (or at least wash your face) afterward.
Know How to Deal With Flare-Ups
During periods of stress, it makes sense that those with sensitive skin or pre-existing skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis might experience flare-ups. Although patients typically develop psoriasis when they’re between the ages of 15 and 35, individuals of any age can struggle with this and other conditions. When cortisol (the stress hormone) increases, our immune system becomes weaker and our skin can become inflamed. But knowing how to react (and how not to react) is half the battle.
You’ve probably heard it a million times throughout the pandemic, but don’t touch your face! Refraining from touching your face, especially if you’re out in public or have just returned home, can stop the spread of the virus — but it’s also good advice for those who are experiencing breakouts. It’s also important not to dry out your skin more; although the conventional wisdom may be to dry out the acne, that actually tricks your body into producing more oil (which exacerbates the issue!). You need to keep your skin moisturized in order to fight acne — but more on that below.
Protect Your Skin’s Moisture Barrier
With all the mask-wearing, hand-washing, and excessive stress, it’s no surprise that your skin might be feeling dry and agitated. If you have a condition like eczema, which impacts 31.6 million people in the U.S., following health guidelines can actually feel akin to torture. If your hands are dry and cracked due to eczema or increased hand-washing, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you allow your hands to air dry or pat them dry with a towel and apply fragrance-free hand cream (bonus points if it contains mineral oil or petrolatum) after each washing. Hand sanitizer is especially drying, so those with dry skin may want to refrain from using it whenever possible. Thick moisturizers are often recommended for healthcare workers or people who have to wear masks for prolonged periods of time. Which brings us to our last tip…
Have a Face Mask Regimen
Face masks are now recommended for all individuals over the age of two in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. But for all the good that masks can do, they can take a toll on the skin. So-called “maskne” has impacted people all across the U.S., so you’re definitely not alone if you’re breaking out around the lower half of your face.
You can combat this by developing a pre- and post-mask routine. You should clean your face before and after wearing a mask with a gentle cleanser. As a rule, you may want to discontinue the use of harsh exfoliants or even makeup wipes for a while — and you should go makeup-less when wearing a mask. Barrier creams like Aquaphor can also reduce irritation. Some people have found success using a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid and flavorless lip balm. It’s a good idea to brush your teeth and use mouthwash before putting on your mask, as this can kill bacteria that can otherwise make your face break out. And of course, don’t forget to wash your mask after each use with fragrance-free detergent.
Although making a physical visit to your dermatologist may be out of the question right now, you can attend to skin issues at home and bolster your current routine by keeping these tips in mind. Before you know it, you’ll be fresh-faced and feeling confident — even if no one else will be the wiser.