Dialing in your optimal skincare routine can be complicated. There’s trial and error with different types of brands and products, not to mention that everyone’s unique body chemistry can differ - someone else might love that fancy face oil that made you break out! If you’re staying at home during CV-19, this is a great time to perfect your go-to lineup for skincare.
If you already have a great routine that works for you, and no skin concerns, then wow. What’s your secret? Really though, if you’re happy with what you’re working with, the biggest challenge right now is to keep up with your normal habits when everything is a bit off-kilter. We all have off days, so don’t give yourself a hard time about missing a step; just show yourself some love with a return to what works when you’re feeling up to it!
If you’re using this time to tweak your routine, or even create one from scratch, first you have to identify your skin issues. This is a tough step and I suggest working to take self-criticism completely off the table. It’s easy to let perceived “problems” impact our self-esteem; people, especially women, are judged heavily for their appearance. However, there’s nothing wrong with not having naturally flawless skin. Most don’t! Our skin is part of who we are: oiliness, dryness, acne, scars, and signs of aging are all completely natural. We’re used to comparing ourselves to advertising where models are airbrushed to be unnaturally flawless. You’re great the way you are.
Skincare and your overall health
Additionally, sometimes our skin concerns can tell us about other issues in our body. If your skin is looking dull, you might be dehydrated and need to up your water consumption. If your under-eyes are darker or puffier than usual, are you getting enough sleep, or are you too stressed? I can always tell where I’m at in my monthly cycle when hormonal acne occurs - at well past the age of 30, thank you very much - or when I get that special, inimitable glow around ovulation. Skincare is an important way for us to take care of ourselves, and our biggest organ, not a remedy for something going on with us.
Do your research to find out how you can safely and supportively treat your skin concerns! I love the online skincare community on Reddit, and the Beautypedia website is a comprehensive online resource that reviews the effectiveness and amounts of active ingredients in different products. EWG Skin Deep is a great certification and online tool for checking the ingredient list against harmful chemicals in body care products. Keep in mind when reading reviews, that different skin chemistry may react differently, and be critical and thorough when researching a well-advertised product. In general, stick with products that have proven effectiveness, no artificial fragrances, and beneficial ingredients. This is not the time to try a baking soda mask recipe from Pinterest no matter how bored you might be - sometimes ingredients for homemade skincare “hacks” can be extremely detrimental to your skin health!
Dial in your skincare in social isolation
If you’re isolating at home, this is, however, a great time for you to test new products. Additionally, you may be wearing less makeup than usual, which can improve your skin quality. Always patch test a new product somewhere other than your face, like the inside of your forearm, and give the test 24 hours with no reaction before applying it to the delicate skin on your face. If you’re trying out different things, don’t try out a bunch at once! See what changes with the addition of one new product, and give it a couple of weeks before adding another new one to your regimen. Make sure to continue your usual supportive skincare routine, or make a nourishing moisturizer or skin oil the first item on your list if you don’t already have a favorite! Keeping your skin hydrated can help it bounce back from any potential irritation.
One thing that you might not expect to be causing skin issues is washing your face. However, keep in mind that hot water can be damaging to your complexion. Heat and steam can dry out and irritate your skin - far from the pervasive “opening your pores” myth often used in beauty advertisements. Go gentle on your skin, use cool or lukewarm water to wash with, and if you’re having more baths or hot showers than usual, try to end with a cool rinse on your face and be sure to moisturize with a simple, fragrance-free oil or cream after.
If you’re staying in, one thing you don’t have to worry about as much is sun protection. I usually wear SPF daily, but without needing to apply it now unless I’m going to the store, or for a safely distanced walk, I’m able to skip that step in my routine. This means it’s a good time to try a chemical exfoliator, especially if you’re addressing acne-at-any-age, oiliness, or clogged pores. When using actives like Vitamin C or exfoliants, it’s good to start slowly, and use them only every few days while you build up a tolerance to them.
Like I mentioned before, our skin can hold signs of what else might be going on with our lives and health. Right now, the world is a much more nerve-wracking place than usual. If your skin is behaving in atypical ways as a result of stress, like acne when you’re not prone, dryness, or just lacking vibrance, remind yourself you might not be able to easily treat it with a cream.
Take care of yourself and your skin by eating nutritious meals, avoiding sugary or processed foods, and hydrating, hydrating, hydrating! Drink lots of water and herbal teas to give your skin its best chance at bouncing back. You can also try a supportive supplement aimed at providing your body with nutrients that benefit skin health, like biotin, collagen, or a B-vitamin complex. One of the things I try to do, especially in difficult times, is treat myself the way I’d treat a cherished friend or loved one, and so when it comes to skincare, and my overall holistic body care, I do my best to keep myself nourished and loved.