If your skin has been breaking out and looking dull for the past few weeks, you’re not alone. Lockdown skin is a real concern, and here are tips to get your clear, bright skin back
Experiencing skincare concerns like breakouts and dullness at the moment seems to defy logic. We haven’t worn makeup in weeks, so why are we having breakouts? And we’ve been staying in, so why does our skin look grey and tired, as if we’ve been burning the candle at both ends?
It turns out that lockdown skin is a problem all of its own, beauty expert and facialist Sherna Malone says.
“Lockdown skin is a thing. I’m receiving more and more messages and emails about breakouts, dryness and dull-looking skin,” Sherna says. “Regarding breakouts and unbalanced skin, there are a few factors at play here; stress, sleep and diet.”
Causes of lockdown skin
Sherna explains that during stressful times, our system copes by increasing the production of cortisol, the stress hormorne. One of the effects of this is that it tells glands in your skin to make more oil, which in turn can lead to breakouts.
Stress is an inevitable part of our lives these days, as we juggle working from home, caring for our families and processing what is happening in the news.
“Stress can make it harder to sleep and lack of sleep can hugely impact on your skin health. Sleep is when our skin repairs and rejuvenates itself, so stress combined with little or no sleep equals skin flare ups,” Sherna says.
The other factor that contributes to lockdown skin is diet. Naturally we have been gravitating towards comfort foods and sugary baked goods to cheer us up while staying at home, and that plays out on our skin.
“We’ve all seen the banana bread pics on Instagram and as tempting as they are, remember, everything in moderation,” Sherna says. “Try and stick to a diet that’s low GI, rich in antioxidants, essential fatty acids, whole grains and other healthy food groups and ease off refined, processed foods. Your skin will thank you.”
How to fix lockdown skin
Follow these steps for clearer and brighter skin:
- Stick to a consistent skincare routine every morning and night, without fail, and avoid using too many products, which can be part of the problem.
- Add some targeted ingredients to your routine to treat and calm down the breakouts. Niacinamide is great for balancing out skin. Azelaic acid helps inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria and in turn, reduces redness and inflammation. Salicylic acid, a BHA (beta hydroxy acid) is oil-soluble, meaning it has the ability to penetrate deep into the pores to remove dead cells and sebum. By keeping the pores clear of debris, breakouts are less likely to occur. Check out The Inkey List Niacinamide Serum (€7.97), Garden of Wisdom Azelaic Acid (£9) and Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant (€26.95).
- Have a go-to quick fix. When new pimples do pop up, do not pick or squeeze! Hit them with a spot treatment such as My Clarins Clear Out Targeted Blemish Treatment (€17). Also think about introducing a weekly mask to your routine. Avène Cleanance Mask (€14.24) with kaolin clay unclogs pores and gently exfoliates.
- For more long-term benefits look at introducing vitamin C, a retinoid and some hyaluronic acid into your skincare routine for added skin strengthening, brightening and hydration. NIOD Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Complex (€28), Vichy’s Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Booster (€16.50), Juliette Armand Elements Forte C 12% Serum (€33), Pestle & Mortar Vitamin C 2 Phase Serum (€76), The Inkey List Vitamin C Serum (€9.45), La Roche Posay B3 Retinol (€28.50) and Murad Youth Renewal Serum (€89.95) to name but a few.
- Lastly, to ensure a better night’s sleep try and incorporate some exercise during the day, walking, yoga, whatever ticks the box for you and then before bedtime create a wind-down routine. Switch off from scrolling through social media channels, dim the lights, perhaps have a long warm bath or shower. I also like to spritz Lucy Wolfe Sleep Through Body & Bed Sleep Spray (€19.99) on my pillow and wrists, it has a lovely calming blend of lavender, camphor, vetiver and chamomile and literally soothes you to sleep.
When you’re short on time
This time at home can feel extra stressful as working from home, juggling childcare and caring for vulnerable family members takes up all your time. Not to mention that every trip to the shop for essentials is taking longer.
For time-poor, busy mums and carers, Sherna recommends these essential steps and fast-acting products.
- “It’s vital to stick to a routine and if time is limited, keep it simple. It doesn’t have to be several steps; stick with a cleanser, serum for your particular skincare concern, moisturiser and SPF. And at night swap your serum for a retinoid. The use of a retinoid product (Vitamin A) will not only deliver some serious anti-ageing benefits like targeting fine lines and wrinkles and improving the appearance of uneven skin tone and texture but it will also help unclog pores and reduce the formation of spots.
- If you do find yourself with 20 minutes to spare, grab a face mask and give your skin a little pick-me-up. Use a fast-acting one like Clarins SOS Comfort Nourishing Balm Mask (€38), Pixi Glow Mud Mask (€23) or Gallinée Facial Scrub and Mask (€25.95), a 2-in-1 product that gives an instant radiance to skin and also gently exfoliates.
- Beauty sleep isn’t called beauty sleep for nothing. During sleep, the body goes into “repair” mode and produces growth hormone, so if you don’t get adequate rest you may not be producing enough of it. A reduction in growth hormone can decrease the skin’s thickness and as a result, collagen and elastin may also break down, causing loose skin and wrinkles to develop. Lack of sleep can also cause your skin to become drier and duller looking, not to mention the under-eye circles and puffiness the on waking. Help is on hand however. Uriage Water Sleeping Mask (€21.50), Seoulista Beauty Gold Glow Instant Facial (€16.45) and Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Under Eye Masks (€22.95) will have you looking bright eyed and bushy tailed in no time.
- When it comes to makeup, a great time saver is to use an SPF that has a tint in it, this allows you to cover up minor blemishes, redness and uneven skin tone without the need for foundation whilst also protecting your skin from damaging UV rays. Heliocare Colour Gel Cream SPF50 (€30), NeoStrata Sheer Physical Protection SPF50 (€37.50) and Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart SPF50 (€65) are some of my favourite formulations.
- Look to multi-purpose makeup sticks that you can apply to cheeks, eyes and lips allowing you create a makeup look in little or no time Nudestix, Milk Makeup and. E.L.F have a lovely selection to choose from.
Whatever your skin concern happens to be at the moment, remember, this situation we’re in won’t last forever, brighter days are ahead and if you give your skin a little TLC and a bit of patience, it will settle.
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Sherna Malone is a beauty and skincare expert, originally from Dublin but now based in West Cork. Her mother is Bronwyn Conroy, known in the beauty industry for founding her namesake beauty school. Sherna acted as Managing Director of the beauty school for 16 years. You can find lots of skincare tips on shernamalone.ie, or follow her on Instagram.