“Okay. Don’t panic. You’re fine. It’s gonna be ok” I said to my friend Julie.
“But I’m BREAKING OUT!!!!” she shrieked.
Okay. I know. That might seem like an overreaction. After all, who hasn’t broken out before?
Well, not Julie. She’s one of those (annoyingly) lucky people who never breaks out. Sure, she has one or two pimples here and there, but never a breakout. We’re talking swelling red acne, super sensitive to the touch, and dry-like-the-desert skin kind of breakout.
“Did you do anything that can cause this?” I asked.
“No. Literally nothing. I just stayed home all day ever since the social distancing thing.” She said.
Ah ha. Suddenly, it all made sense to me.
Just for context, Julie lives in a small condo in downtown Toronto. Ever since the lockdown happened, she (like most of us) has been staying indoors. And from Julie’s story, I can think of 5 reasons why social distancing can be causing you some skin issues.
We’ve all heard that sunlight is the enemy of beauty.
And it’s true. UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer, premature skin aging, sunburn, and worst of all, they damage the DNA in your skin cells.
So, you’d think that staying indoors would help you avoid all those issues, right?
Well, yes and no. It’s true that you get plenty of sun protection by staying inside.
However, you’re also not reaping the benefits that sunlight can bring for you.
According to the WHO, getting 5 to 15 minutes of casual sun exposure around 2 – 3 times a week can actually benefit your skin. This helps by keeping your vitamin D levels high. And vitamin D is great since it helps you with skin cell growth, repair, and metabolism.
It also enhances your skin’s immune system – which helps in treating acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
Look, I get it.
It’s just so EASY to snack while you’re staying home. Especially if your kitchen is just 5 feet away.
And that could be the problem.
Chances are, you may have been indulging a little? I mean who doesn’t like sweet, salty, high-fat snacks when you’re Netflix and chillin’. And since you’re not driving anywhere or getting up for an early morning commute that one glass of wine can easily turn into a half bottle.
And don’t get me going on ice cream and cheese (even the healthy kinds made with dairy alternatives aren't helping to make you healthier if you’re consuming the whole pint of coconut ice cream or block of cashew cheese).
Wondering why sugar is a no-no? Well, it’s because it breaks down the collagen and elastin in your skin, resulting in saggy skin and more wrinkles.
And about that glass of wine or 3, drinking too much alcohol will dehydrate you, and that means your skin too. And when your skin is dehydrated, your wrinkles and pores will become more visible. Also, alcohol also causes inflammation to your skin, making your skin blotchy, red, and resulting in more acne.
Your Activity Levels
Given that you’re stuck inside, you’re probably not getting as much exercise as you could.
Even if you weren’t too active before, at least you could still walk around here and there to socialize with others. Sure, you can work out at home, but you may not have the motivation for that. And that’s totally understandable.
But this could also be a reason why you’re developing some skin issues.
Basically, since you’re not getting as much physical activity as you used to, it’ll lead to a lower circulation in your body. This is bad because your circulation system brings all the good nutrients - like minerals, vitamins, and oxygen - to different parts of your body.
And once that system goes down, your skin will look dull and dry.
And if you already have a poor diet to begin with (*glance at the box of crackers you just finished)* being inactive means your body won’t be able to burn up all that extra fat, sugar, salt and so on. And as a result, your skin also suffers.
When you have an inactive routine, your body may have more inflammation and develop a hormonal imbalance. These are also direct reasons that cause acne breakouts to happen. Not to mention, your metabolism will become weaker, giving your body a hard time to break down fats and sugars. And as we all know, sugar is the enemy of the skin.
It’s a tough time, and we’re all feeling the stress. And if you think that your acne is caused by stress, you’re not imagining it.
When you’re stressed, your body will produce more androgen hormones, leading to a hormone imbalance. And this imbalance will overstimulate the oil glands and hair follicles in your skin, leading to acne.
And that’s not all, stress also causes your body to produce make more cortisol (often referred to as the stress hormone)s. These hormones will inflame your skin, causing acne, dullness, and make your skin more sensitive.
Since you’ve been staying home a lot, chances are you’re either blasting AC or heat all day.
And this is also a problem.
When the temperature is either too high or too low, the air in your home gets drier. Especially if you live in a small space, the effect will be even more drastic. And the low humidity in the air will dry out and irritate your skin.
And don't get me started about what happens to your skin when you need to wear a mask. Increased humidity, heat and friction is the perfect storm for red, irritated, skin and acne. If you're a frontline medical worker and need to wear a respirator you can add hives, blisters and indented raw skin to that list.
Because of this, it’s very important to keep your skin hydrated throughout the day.
One way you can do this is by investing in a facial mist – like the Face Food Mineral Mist. It’s super hydrating to the skin, even though it feels so weightless. What’s more, it contains a cocktail of zinc, magnesium, silver, copper, and malachite that soothe and smooth out your skin beautifully.
It’s also super convenient. Just carry it around and spray whenever your skin gets a bit too dry.
(Tip: It feels especially refreshing when chilled, straight from the fridge ;)
Also, you wouldn’t want the moisture on your skin to evaporate. So you should invest in an oil-based product to lock it in – like the Superfood Serum. It’s blended with nourishing superfoods – like turmeric, sacha inchi, saffron – that help calm inflammation while deeply hydrating your skin.
The best quarantine self-care plan
I know that this is a tough time that we’re all facing. So having a self-care plan is more important than ever.
It starts with having a healthy and balanced diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Follow it up with an exercise plan. You don’t need fancy gym equipment to work out. Rather, you can easily do it in the comfort of your own home. Even 15 minutes of exercise a day is better than nothing.
Also, try not to crank up your heat and AC. Just open your windows, letting some morning sunlight and fresh air in. This will also help with your mood.
Last but not least, don’t forget to keep up with your skincare routine. Remember, consistency is key!