It seems as though people are either experiencing the best skin of their lives or the worst while social distancing. If your makeup-free skin is thriving right now, that's amazing! Keep doing you. Someone will be able to appreciate your beautiful skin soon enough. If, on the other hand, your skin has been doing you dirty this past month, don't worry. This is a stressful time for everyone right now, and stress spikes cortisol levels, which can lead to hormonal acne. You might also be drinking a little more and indulging in more sugar than you would usually, and those things can trigger breakouts as well. Don't beat yourself up over it. I'm here today to give you three easy skincare goals for you to consider during this strange time spent inside.
1. Apply sunscreen every morning and double cleanse to remove it every night.
By now, you don't need me to tell you all the reasons you should be wearing sunscreen. Not only does it help prevent skin cancer, but it is also the single most effective way of preventing signs of skin ageing. Sunscreen also allows your skin to "rest" by telling it that it doesn't have to work all day long to protect itself from UV rays and other free radicals that cause damage. Your skin can use this downtime to heal and rebuild. It's a win-win.
There are all different kinds of sunscreen formulas out there, but the most important distinction is physical versus chemical formulas. Physical sunscreen contains zinc that bounces UV rays off of your skin. It is arguably the most effective at sun protection because it creates a physical shield. Many people also prefer it because it sits on top of the skin rather than being absorbed into it. However, physical sunscreen can leave you with a more noticeable sense of something sitting on top of your skin, so if you dislike the feeling of "wearing" a product, a chemical sunscreen might be the better option for you. Chemical sunscreen works by creating a chemical reaction that transforms UV rays into heat that is then released by the skin. Chemical sunscreen formulas often feel more lightweight and than their physical counterpart.
Ultimately, the best sunscreen for your skin is the one that you're going to want to wear every day, so it's up to you to choose what kind of formula is right for you. Our favourite physical sunblocks are from Suntegrity and Josh Rosebrook. Our best-selling chemical sunscreen is from Dr. Barbara Sturm.
If you're going to wear sunscreen every day, you're going to have to take it off at the end of it. The number one complaint from people who don't like wearing sunscreen is that it causes their skin to break out. That's because sunscreen, especially a physical formula, requires more effort to remove than just a swipe of micellar water before bed. A double-cleanse is recommended and trust me; your skin will thank you for it. I like to start with an oil-based balm cleanser on dry skin like this one from Holifrog. I massage it into my dry skin to break down my sunblock, makeup (not that I'm wearing any these days, but still) and the general grime that has accrued on my face throughout the day. I emulsify the product with water and then proceed to apply a lighter, milky cleanser like this other one from Holifrog. This two-step process ensures that I have properly cleansed my skin and prepared it for any following skincare.
I love the simplicity of this skincare goal because sunscreen is the most proven and cost-effective preventative skincare tool. Applying my daily sunscreen makes me feel accomplished in a way similar to making my bed-- it is a small, straightforward win that sets my day up for success. Even if I don't change out of sweatpants all day, I can make my bed and apply sunscreen every morning.
2. Heal Your Moisture Barrier
If you are a chronic experimenter when it comes to skincare, or if your skin is simply prone to irritation, use this time to heal your moisture barrier. Your moisture barrier is the outer layer of the epidermis that keeps the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. Constant use exfoliants and the mixing of high-test active ingredients can wear the moisture barrier down over time and leave the skin feeling sensitive, irritated and prone to rashes and/or breakouts. A strong moisture barrier means healthy, clear skin, and it is something that we should all pay more attention to, especially right now, when we are stuck at home and might feeling more inclined to play chemist.
Healing your moisture barrier is easy, albeit a little boring. Put down your 20% AHA toner and your gritty face scrubs. Stay out of the kitchen if you feel tempted to concoct a homemade face mask. Do the least amount possible.
Stick to a simple regimen of cleansing and moisturizing. I love Cosmetics 27 for this purpose because its products are formulated with pre and probiotics to help balance the skin's microbiome and, in turn, reinforce the moisture barrier.
In the morning, apply a gentle, basic moisturizer like Creme 27 and follow up with your sunscreen. In the evening, double cleanse with the Holifrog duo I mentioned earlier, and finish with your moisturizer. If you want to add a serum, the Recovery 27 Serum exists for this very purpose. Use it twice a day for six weeks to rebuild your skin's natural defence mechanisms and be rewarded with happier, healthier skin.
3. Get Acquainted with a Retinol
Aside from sunscreen, Vitamin A is an essential ingredient for the maintenance of great skin. It stimulates cell turnover to reveal fresh, young skin. However, it has a reputation for being harsh and kind of scary because it can cause peeling and redness if misused.
The issue here is that most people go in too hot. They start with the highest concentration (usually 1%) and apply it every night. Within a matter of days, they begin to see irritated, dry skin and they shelf the product forever.
The trick with retinol is starting low and slow. Begin with the lightest concentration, a couple of nights a week. You can even apply it over top of your moisturizer instead of underneath if you want to minimize the retinol's strength. I am currently using the SkinMedica 0.25% Retinol that I buy from my dermatologist's office. I started using it two nights a week, and I worked my way up to using it every night. Once I have used up this bottle, I will move onto the 0.5% concentration.
Retinol is the name of over-the-counter Vitamin A. Retin-A is the name of the clinical formula, which the most potent. One day I might be a Retin-A user, but for now, I'm happy using the OTC formulas. If you are acne-prone, you might want to talk to your doctor about Tretinoin, the clinical formula that targets breakouts.
If your moisture barrier is strong and your skin isn't feeling overwhelmingly sensitive, now is a great time to start using retinol. If you take it slow, you shouldn't see an adverse reaction, but if for some reason you do start to get a little flaky, you might as well endure it now when no one can see you so that you can emerge from social isolation with glowing, young-looking skin.
That's all, folks! Be kind to yourself and be kind to your skin. If you aren't thriving in an emotional or a physical sense right now, that is entirely understandable. If your forehead is looking a little bumpy because you've been eating mini eggs by the handful every day for the past week (I am talking about myself here), that is okay. This experience will pass! We will recover, and our skin will follow. I hope these little skincare goals can give you a sense of ease or control, or at least something to do!