Changes in our skin as we age are inevitable, including loss of moisture, changes in…
By now, we’re all thoroughly tired of being stuck indoors, and are counting down the days until we can (hopefully) get back to some semblance of normal.
Though that day may come relatively soon, that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up caring about the effect staying indoors is having. And that means not just on your mental health, but your physical health too.
The chances are, since March 2020 you’ve noticed a significant change in your skin. Perhaps it’s more lacklustre, or you’re suffering acne breakouts more often than usual. Maybe you’re sleeping more, or sleeping less – these things all have an effect.
Your skin reflects your life and habits. When you skip the morning routine, change up your habits and give up on healthy eating, you’re going to notice it.
So to prepare you for the potentially normal summer we might have, now’s the time to learn exactly what staying indoors has been doing to your skin. And with a little help, we can fix you up so you’re ready to take on the worldonce more.
It doesn’t matter if you’re sneaking a bit more chocolate here and there, or how secretive you’ve been about finishing off a family sized bag of Doritos (with dip). Even your best kept food secrets will show on your face – whether you like it or not.
Many people have put on a few extra pounds during lockdown. Others have indulged on their plates but been strict in their workouts. Whichever route you followed, the chances are it’s influencing your skin.
Meal times have become more flexible. We’re going to bed later, snacking more, and we’ve found a new “normal” that can feel like an excuse for our bad habits. But it adds up.
More junk food and less water means duller skin, flat hair, clogged pores and often more acne and breakouts. It’s the unfortunate truth.
We’ve all come to redefine what we mean by stress. Morning chaos, public transport, rush hour traffic… it’s all changed, but it’s not gone away.
The news and social media add a little more to our stress levels each day. Many are worried about money, jobs, paying their bills, home-schooling. Not to mention the constant background noise of concern for friends and family and their health.
All that stress can have a huge impact on our skin. It causes chemical changes in the brain that contribute to changes across the body. When we’re stressed, we produce more cortisol, which causes us to overproduce sebum (oil) in our skin. Soon our pores are blocked, we’re breaking out in spots, and underlying conditions flare-up.
Fighting stress isn’t always easy, but it is always important.
Do you remember back when lockdown began, and we all jumped at the opportunity to go outside to exercise once a day?
That’s not been the case for a while now, for many of us. Which means fresh air is more of a rarity than it once was. Sunshine and Vitamin D have become an occasional indulgence. We’re indoors more than we’ve ever been before.
When we’re inside, the air tends to be drier. In winter, we crank up the central heating and in summer, we’re constantly stood by the fan. No matter the season, we’re breathing in the same old recirculated air – and so is our skin.
Yes, we’re reducing our sun exposure. But the downfalls of staying indoors far outweigh the benefits.
At-Home Skincare Routines
Let’s be honest for a minute here. How many of us have been getting up to work from home and spending half an hour making ourselves presentable?
We’re willing to bet that most people have let the skincare routine slide during lockdown, just as we’ve let so many other things fall by the wayside.
Yes, we know we’re supposed to look good for ourselves, but it’s hard to feel like we’re not wasting our time (and expensive products) when we get ready to sit at home all day.
Our skincare routines often start with the simple act of removing our make-up and cleansing our faces. Yet it’s difficult to summon up the motivation to cleanse properly when you know you haven’t left the house. Then, when you skip that first step, each additional step becomes difficult to find the motivation for.
If you previously exfoliated or put on a face mask a few times a week, you might feel you’re wasting your time if no one’s going to see you anyway. Let’s face it, no one’s Zoom call quality is that good.
We’ve talked about the effects of blue light and screen time on our skin before, and most of us have found ourselves in front of a screen more than ever this last year. Whether it’s your smartphone, your laptop or your television – it often feels like there’s not much else to do!
Humans are social creatures. Without adapting our social lives to speak to friends and family online, 2020 would have been twice as difficult. If we want to socialise, we’re now confined to doing so on the internet. There’s not much other choice until the world gets a little safer.
But blue light from screens causes damage in much the same way blue light from the sun does. It can cause changes in skin pigmentation, damage collagen and elastin and amplify the signs of aging.
We’re not talking about your face so much here, but hygiene has been incredibly important since the pandemic began. We’ve been encouraged to wash our hands more thoroughly, and more often than before. We’re showering more often. We’re using alcohol hand sanitisers that dry out our skin and are disrupting our pH levels.
As a result, our skin is growing dry, patchy and dehydrated. Then, of course, since we’re at home more and less likely to be wearing make-up, maybe we’re touching our face and picking at our skin more. No one is there to see the mess we make when our skin grows sore and inflamed, and we’re breaking out.
Then we feel guilty, and over wash our faces too. It’s an unhealthy cycle.
How To Protect Your Skin In Lockdown
With all the ways we’re damaging our skin while we’re stuck indoors, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But there are ways we can restore and revitalise our skin to get back to normal and take care of our bodies.
Though changes that occur in our skin over time take time to correct, there’s no time like the present. Here’s how to get started.
For some, this might be the hardest one to cut back on. When we first stop or reduce our intake of sugary and fatty foods, our bodies still crave them for some time afterward. But we promise, the first few days will be hard. The next few will be easier!
When you’re tempted, try to ask yourself why you want to eat something that you know isn’t good for your body. Are you really hungry, or are you bored?
It’s also helpful to remember that excess sugar in our diets can negatively impact our skin’s aging process. If you’re more of a savoury fan, remember that fatty foods can cause breakouts and excess sebum production. If you turn to cheese, milk and dairy… remember these can promote acne.
Drink a glass of water instead. You’ll feel proud, and you’ll thank yourself later.
Remember how we’re all allowed out once a day? Take advantage of that!
If your new routine means finding time to go outdoors is harder than it once was, then open up the windows and let fresh, clean air flow through your home.
Yes, we know it can still be a bit chilly. If you really have to put the radiator on, try putting a damp towel nearby to add a little humidity to the air.
A New Skincare Regimen
If your skincare routine used to begin with a step you no longer need, then make a new one! Even if it’s only temporary.
Take advantage of the break your skin is getting from make-up and the dry air con in most busy offices. Assess your current skin care needs and adapt your old routine accordingly.
We’ve already mentioned how staying indoors can dry out your skin, so moisturising is a more important step than ever. But it doesn’t stop with the face.
Over-showering, over-washing and sitting inside can dry out our hands, faces and bodies. Dryness can lead to cracked, sore skin, and this can even lead to infection.
Circumvent this from the start by using a hydrating moisturiser all over each time you wash your hands, shower, or cleanse your face.
To prevent your skin growing drier than necessary, it’s also a good idea to opt for a mild soap, shower gel, hand wash or cleanser. Every little helps.
Clean Your Equipment
This one might not be something you’ve thought about… but you wash your hands regularly. Have you thought about how dirty your keyboard is getting working from home?
For that matter, have you considered whether your phone could do with cleaning, or your headphones?
All of these contribute to additional dirt and bacteria on our skin, and using an antibacterial wipe to regularly clean down the surfaces we touch each day can make a huge difference to our skin and overall health.