What To Do If Your Skin Is Worse Than Before (You’re Not Alone)
Was anyone else under the impression that they were going to come out of the movement control order/quarantine/isolation with clear, glowing skin? It wasn’t just me, right? Okay, good. I’m going to be real guys, my skin hasn’t been this bad since I turned 16 and could afford to get some sort of skincare regime going. I honestly believed that I was going to achieve skin as clear as my fave K-Pop star (that’s Lisa of Blackpink, by the way) and boy, was I wrong. With the respite from putting on makeup (except for the occasional Tik Tok), you’d think that we were giving our skin the time to breathe and we were keeping it protected from the evils outside our doors (the sun! pollution!) but.. why isn’t that happening?
Why is our skin breaking out? Why is it splotchy? Why does it keep swinging between being dry and oily by the day?
Turns out we’ve got “quarantine skin”. Yeap, it’s a thing.
And it’s caused by…
Changes To Our Diets
Even if you’ve been good at controlling your snackaging, it wouldn’t take much for your diet to affect your skin. With more time at home, we’re more likely to consume higher amounts of sugar (either in sweets or through fizzy drinks) and for those of that drink, the MCO allowed for people to indulge in alcohol a bit more (“happy hour all day every day”, and all that). Not only does sugar cause inflammation, but it also aggravates the presence of acne and eczema. Meanwhile, an increase in alcohol consumption causes dehydration and redness (yes, that Asian flush).
All in all, trying to stick to a healthy diet would have helped reduce the damage to your skin.
Inconsistent Skincare Routines
Raise your hand if you’ve missed your daily face wash/toner application! Remember how, before the movement control order, we’d wash our faces before putting on makeup in the morning and later at the end of the day, once it came time for you to take off your make up? Well, have you kept to that routine? Turns out that if you haven’t, that’s probably why you’re experiencing breakouts or irritation. Even though we aren’t putting on makeup, our skin is still exposed to the dirt in the air, on surfaces – and how often do you find yourself picking at your face now that you aren’t sitting in an office full of people?
To prevent clogged pores and breakouts, it’s important to still wash, scrub and cleanse as if you were still applying makeup.
Stress and sleep
No brainer – your skin is reacting to the stress you’re under. Whether the change in work schedules and environment, the stress of the invisible enemy we’re fighting out there or the stress of just trying to keep everything together – you’re holding in a lot of bad juju that is now appearing on your skin in the form of blemishes and other impurities. Not only that, if the stress has been contributing to your insomnia or lack thereof (i.e. if you’re sleeping more than you used to), you’re more likely to see your skin breakout.
Stick to a routine of 7 to 8 hours of sleep (as best as you can) to ensure that your body does not react negatively. Practice some self-care habits while you’re at it – keep hydrated, do some yoga and do more of the things you love.
Bacteria from our pillows
This is… ew. Turns out that while you sleep, you shed about 15 million skin cells each night (which then feed dust mites) and the longer you wait between washes, the more bacteria collects on your pillows. While one study found that your average pillow has as many as 16 different species of fungus and literally millions of fungal spores, another “found that unwashed pillowcases and sheets had up to 39 times more bacteria than pet-food bowls and several thousand times more bacteria than a toilet seat”. So…yeah…. as you’re rubbing your face on your pillow as your sleep, you’re collecting tonnes of bacteria on your face. The oil from your hair, hands and face will stick to the pillows and in turn, clog your skin.
The simple solution? Wash your sheets and pillowcases once a week with water that’s as hot as you can make it.
Sweat, sweat and – SURPRISE – sweat.
If you’ve been spending your quarantine days following along to “X Day Fitness Challenges” or even, just trying to nail the perfect Tik Tok recording, you would have spent a lot of time sweating. Heck, Malaysia’s weather makes us feel as if we’re in almost constantly in a sauna. And, without the need to go out or be in public after a sweaty session, it’s more likely for you to procrastinate (or skip out altogether) before hitting the showers. And in doing so, you’re – you guessed it – clogging your pores.
Cleanse after every workout or sweat session. For good measure, disinfect and clean your workout surfaces as well to prevent a build-up of bacteria.
But here’s what you can do to minimise the damage to your skin during this conditional movement control order period so that you can restore your skin to its pre-MCO glory in no time!
If Your Skin Feels Drier Than Before
Other than doing what’s been said above, look for serums and moisturisers that are rich in antioxidants. Also, invest in a humidifier to improve the moisture levels in the air. For a quick fix, keep a bowl of water by your bed. Air conditioning is known to dry up the air and suck the moisture out of everything – your skin included.
If Your Skin Looks Dull
Don’t worry about missing your glow. Instead, focus on scrubbing away the dead skin and dirt that has collected on your skin. Use an exfoliant – either chemical or physical – that is not too strong (make sure it isn’t something that will cause tears or burn your skin). Do this three times a week (not more because your skin needs time to rest and recover).
If Your Skin Is Breaking Out
First off, STOP PICKING AT IT! Go back to the basics – wash your face twice a day and use spot treatment (or a pimple patch). Focus on areas where you’re prone to breakouts (i.e. your chin, the T-zone, cheeks). so that you’re always working in preventative measures. And an expert tip – put on sunscreen even if you aren’t going outside! And lastly, KEEP YOUR HANDS AWAY FROM YOUR FACE!
*Cover image credits: Background: Florian GIORGIO on Unsplash Left: Anthony Tran on Unsplash Right: Septian simon on Unsplash