Why your skin is freaking out during self-isolation

Self Isolation Skin Issues

Pimples? Flare-ups? Flakiness? Here’s what’s going on

Beauty Crew Beauty Writer / April 07 2020

Did anyone else think their skin would be absolutely thriving with this whole self-isolation thing? From the makeup detox and the countless sheet masks, to the reduced sun exposure and self-imposed ban on face touching – you’d be fibbing if you said you weren’t smugly anticipating your best skin yet. You’re basically giving your skin everything it ever wanted, right?

So, then why is it going absolutely NUTS? Well, contrary to what we first thought, Dr Vivek Eranki from Cosmetique Cosmetic Surgery Clinic says being cooped up inside isn’t actually the best thing for your skin. “Staying indoors can adversely affect your skin. As a result of this, we are seeing problems such as flare-ups of acne and increased flare-ups of autoimmune conditions such as eczema.” Want to know what you can do to stop self-isolation from wreaking havoc on your skin? Here are Dr Eranki’s top tips.

What’s causing your skin to freak out?

To give it to your straight: “Stress, poor diet, lack of fresh air, [and] lack of exercise can all cause skin issues," says Dr Eranki. 

“Due to the underlying cause of the restrictions and the uncertainty with jobs, businesses and finance, some people are experiencing stress.” Our skin can show stress in a variety of different ways, such a psoriasis and eczema flare-ups, dermatitis or even acne. The longer you endure stress, the more it takes a toll on your skin (check out some things you can do to de-stress).

Not only this, but the extended time we’re spending indoors means we are also getting less sunlight – which isn’t necessarily a good thing. “Patients are not getting their usual exposure to sunlight and can become vitamin D deficient,” explains Dr Eranki. On top of this, artificial air from air conditioners can cause the skin to become dry and rough, “thereby compromising the protective features of the skin,” says Dr Eranki. Sigh.

How to take extra care of your skin in self-isolation

According to Dr Eranki, protecting your skin from the effects of self-isolation doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t have to splash out on a whole load of new skin care products. Because sometimes, less is more. “When patients overdo their skin care regimen, it inhibits the protective features of their skin. This has an opposite effect and causes flare-ups of acne and eczema.”

Ready to turn things around? Here are some top tips that’ll help you get on the right track:

#1 / Hydrate
One thing is for certain: applying moisturiser will make your skin look and feel better. “The best ‘bang for your buck’ comes from investing in a good moisturiser,” says Dr Eranki. No matter what your skin type, moisturising and giving your skin a boost of hydration will help maintain barrier health. “We recommend patients match the moisturiser to their skin type. Some patients have naturally oily skin, while others have naturally dry skin. For patients with naturally oily skin, a serum works well to hydrate and protect and for those with drier complexions, they would benefit from a lotion or cream,” explains Dr Eranki. “When selecting a skin care range, it’s important that patients select products with active ingredients in an uncomplicated range.”

For oily skin types, try a hydrating serum like SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel. If you’re looking for a good everyday moisturiser that is suitable for normal to dry skin types, we recommend trying CeraVe AM Facial Moisturising Lotion with SPF 15 (there’s also a ‘PM’ version to use at night). If you need to top up your hydration through the day, keep something like Olay Mist with Aloe Leaf & Chamomile Extract on your desk.

SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel

CeraVe AM Facial Moisturising Lotion with SPF 15

Olay Mist with Aloe Leaf & Chamomile Extract

#2 / Exfoliate
“Once the basics are sorted, we recommend patients invest in a good exfoliant,” says Dr Eranki. “Exfoliating not only removes dead skin layers but also removes built-up grime. This helps your skin care to penetrate deeper, providing better nourishment to your skin cells.” But that doesn’t mean you should go to town on your face and scrub your skin every single day. According to Dr Eranki, once a week is sufficient for sensitive skin; “For normal or dry skin, we recommend exfoliating one to two times per week. For oily skin, we suggest you exfoliate two to three times per week.”

“When selecting an exfoliant, we recommend you pick one with organic plant-based ingredients such as fruit enzymes, rhassoul clay, finely ground oats and non-abrasive walnut shell. These work in harmony with the natural physiology of your skin, encouraging the skin’s natural renewal process.” Try Alpha-H Liquid Gold or Grown Alchemist Enzyme Facial Exfoliant. 

Alpha-H Liquid Gold

Grown Alchemist Enzyme Facial Exfoliant

#3 / Boost
For best results, Dr Eranki suggests using vitamin A and vitamin C. When added to your skin care routine in its topical form, vitamin A will help repair damaged skin and stimulate the production of new collagen, which effectively reduces signs of dry skin, clogged pores and the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. As for vitamin C, this is one of the best ingredients when it comes to brightening skin and reducing the appearance of dark spots ­­- so it’s a no-brainer. Try Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum and La Roche Posay Redermic Vitamin C10 Serum.

Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum

La Roche Posay Redermic Vitamin C10 Serum.

#4 / Protect
Just because you’re inside, doesn’t mean you get to skip the whole SPF thing. “UVA light can penetrate through the window glass and can cause premature ageing and even skin cancer,” says Dr Eranki. “We recommend you use a barrier sunscreen rather than a chemical sunscreen. Barrier sunscreen physically blocks UV light and is much safer than chemical sunscreens.” Dr Eranki recommends using Invisible Zinc Sheer Defence Moisturiser SPF 50.*

Invisible Zinc Sheer Defence Moisturiser SPF 50

If the coronavirus pandemic has got you feeling a bit overwhelmed, check out these psychologist tips for managing anxiety.

*Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist see your healthcare professional. Wear protective clothing, hats and eyewear when exposed to the sun. Prolonged high-risk sun exposure should be avoided.

Main image credit: @aw

Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew, Beauty Editor for Women's Health magazine and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.