For the past month, our lives have been turned completely upside down, disrupting our daily routines, habit and life as we know it. Often times, although you may not realize it, when our daily habits and routines are altered it can have a negative effect on our skin. Needless to say, these massive changes in our current lives are highly stress inducing and, unfortunately, the health of our skin may be paying the price. When we experience stress our adrenal glands produce cortisol which is our bodies primary stress hormone. Cortisol not only causes inflammation in the body, but it triggers our sebaceous glands to produce excess oil which can cause clogged pores resulting in acne lesions. I realize this will be easier said than done, but the best ways to help reduce stress- therefore improving the health of our skin- includes getting good quality and proper amount of sleep. Not only do our skin cells repair and regenerate while we sleep, but sleep helps to maintain a well functioning immune system, which is needed to combat acne. So, aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
Another factor that can contribute to inflammation and acne is a change in diet. Many of us may be reaching for sweets or junk food as a way of dealing with our stress, and that change in diet has the potential to lead to increased breakouts as sugar is a trigger for cortisol release. It may not necessarily be the food choices themselves but rather the disruptive change to your typical diet, so be sure to choose comfort foods in moderation.
Although it would seem we now have plenty of time to dedicate to a strict skin care regime, for many of us our daily routines have shifted. Some of us may be sleeping in later, staying up later, working more hours, etc., all of which could contribute to a less disciplined skin care regime. Skipping cleansing or neglecting to apply your active ingredient products can lead to clogged pores, blackheads and breakouts. These types of products perform better when used on a consistent basis, therefore a regular routine is imperative for optimal skin health.
The other end of that spectrum could be people going over board with the application of their skin care and experimenting with the products they forgot they had in the back of their bathroom cabinet. There is nothing wrong with trying something new, but we must be sure not to introduce too much too fast. If we introduce multiple products at once and end up experiencing irritation and breakouts, we won’t know which product(s) are the cause of the irritation. Be aware that starting new products can lead to purging and detoxifying causing breakouts. Throw away any products that are expired, and if sensitive skin is an issue, pay attention to any irritation or negative reactions.
The biggest culprit, I believe, for our “quarantine skin” is picking! Whether due to our stress levels, boredom or a combination of the two, the worst thing we can do to our skin is pick it. Picking at our skin will not only cause inflammation, but it will further spread bacteria leading to more breakouts. Breaking the skin by picking can cause pigmentation and in some cases scarring, which is much more difficult to treat than the acne lesions themselves. So, if you are feeling bored and stressed back away from the mirror.
Unquestionably, this pandemic is causing stress and altering daily lives and routines. It is previously unknown to us and navigating its pitfalls is challenging. So, let’s be kind and gentle to ourselves, do the best we can, and keep in mind that a few breakouts are not the end of the world, we all get them, and this to shall pass. I hope this post finds you all safe and well xo