Health & Wellbeing

This is what your skincare routine should look like post lockdown

An aesthetic practitioner weighs in on how to treat 'iso-skin'

While the idea of returning to ‘normal life’ post COVID-19 restrictions has us excited, it’s also made us aware of the impact lockdown has had on our lives.

Financial and emotional strain aside, life in lockdown has taken a toll on our health and wellbeing, especially when it comes to our skin.

Stress, excess hand-washing and seasonal changes can wreak havoc with skin at the best of times, so it comes as no surprise that after four months indoors, our skin has taken a hit. If you’re suddenly suffering from dry skin, cracked skin, pigmentation or blemishes, it may be time to switch-up your skincare routine in order to restore your skin to its most vibrant state.

We caught up with aesthetic practitioner Sarah Hudson to find out why our skin has drastically changed during lockdown and how we can fix it.

Why has my skin changed since the beginning of isolation?

According to Sarah, isolation’s impact on our lifestyle has had a detrimental effect on many people’s skin.

“‘Iso Skin’ is the result of a different, more sedentary lifestyle,” she says. “Isolation isn’t a normal thing for us; the combination of loss, loneliness, isolation and lack of normal routine in our lives had a huge impact on our mental health and given our skin is the largest organ of our body, and a reflection of our physical and mental health, it, of course, began to reflect this new normality.”

Sarah also blames a lack of sleep, poor diet, and increased stress for the changes in our skin.

“Stress causes the body to release a hormone called cortisol, which causes our skin and scalp to produce more oil than normal, which leads to breakouts and other issues. Some people are also suffering from dark circles around their eyes and puffiness.

“Not to mention, alcohol consumption increased by 70 per cent during isolation. This, combined with a more sedentary life, means that not only are people drinking more, but they are also drinking earlier in the day. A diuretic, alcohol causes the body to dehydrate resulting in parched, crepey skin.”

What is the difference between dry and dehydrated skin?

“Dry skin more commonly occurs in winter,” says Sarah. “As we sweat and perspire less, our skin’s oil production is more solid. We also tend to drink less water and consume more caffeinated drinks, leaving the skin texture feeling rough, chalky dry and flaky, with a dull appearance.

“Dehydrated skin is a lack of moisture in our skin cells. In winter, any skin type can become dehydrated — even oily, acne-prone skin. Dehydration leaves the skin feeling tight and flaky; with lines that look crepey and an increase in skin sensitivity including, redness, stinging and itchiness.”

Sound familiar?

What products should I use for dry skin?

Sarah is a firm believer in ultra hydrating products that maintain skin’s natural moisture.

Vaseline Petroleum Jelly forms a waterproof barrier when applied to the skin, preventing skin moisture from escaping,” she explains.

Vaseline Petroleum Jelly and Vaseline Advanced Strength Lotion are also fragrance-free, making them perfect for sensitive skin. Fragrance in a product will exacerbate the sensitivity of dry skin, leading to redness and irritation.”

The brand’s new Skin Serum Lotion range comes supercharged with niacinamide (vitamin B3) and glycerine, which help skin retain its moisture by improving the lipid barrier. Niacinamide also helps to visibly improve the appearance of dark spots and uneven skin tone. The range is available in Citrus (Fresh Glow), Green Tea (Invigorating Glow) and Cranberry (Radiant Glow) variants.

Vaseline Fresh Glow Skin Serum, Radiant Glow Skin Serum, Invigorating Glow Skin Serum, $XX each at Woolworths

What should my skincare routine look like if I have dry skin?

If you suffer from dry skin, Sarah advises a skincare program that focuses on ingredients that enhance and build the skin’s natural oil (lipid) barrier; keeping moisture in and irritating bacteria out.

  • Hydrating cleanser: The skin needs to gently be removed of impurities and pollution of the day while correcting and repairing the natural skin barrier. Find a face wash that contains glycerin, vitamin E and hyaluronic acid.
  • Facial oil: Apply a well-formulated facial oil. It’s an excellent way to replenish naturally dry skin. If you are time poor, mix facial oil into your moisturiser for a winter luxe feel.
  • Rich moisturiser: Choose a moisturiser with ceramides, these are successful at mimicking and restoring your natural lipid barrier while providing deep hydration.
  • Sunscreen: During winter, this is often a product that is forgotten! Giving ample protection from UVA/UVB rays, a well-formulated sunscreen will contain nourishing and protective ingredients.
  • Overnight nourishing mask: Apply a nourishing mask at night, two to three times a week. It’s a great way to take advantage of the skin’s natural cell regeneration as your body rests. Apply over a facial oil for extra nourishment prior to bed, you will wake with a vibrant, supple complexion in the morning.

How can I protect my hands while still washing regularly?

Since the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak, experts have been stressing the importance of hand washing. It makes sense that our hands can start to feel dry and look cracked.

While hygiene is, first and foremost, a priority in these times, how do we promote the protection of the delicate skin on our hands?

Sarah recommends choosing a mild, fragrance-free hand wash with moisturising properties.

“Wash your hands with warm, not hot water,” she instructs. “Pat hands dry (rather than harshly rub) and then immediately apply hand cream. Keep small travel sizes of hand cream in gym bags, purses and at your work desk. You don’t need to apply so much your hands become greasy; just enough to lightly coat the skin.”

If your hands are in need of a little TLC, apply a thick layer of hand cream before bed and then cover them with cotton gloves to increase absorption.

“Apply hand cream immediately after every wash, or whenever they are feeling dry,” says Sarah. (Credit: Getty)

What moisturiser should I choose?

“Firstly, you need to determine whether your skin is dry, dehydrated and sensitive, or oily and dehydrated,” says Sarah.

Dry, dehydrated and sensitive skin:

Look for a richer, cream moisturiser with ceramides and nourishing oils that will mimic natural skin oils.

Oily/acne-prone, dehydrated skin:

You should still apply moisturiser. But opt for a lightweight lotion with hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid. It sounds counter-intuitive, but I suggest choosing a moisturiser that doesn’t have an in-built SPF. Sunscreen ingredients can inhibit the performance of a moisturiser.

How often should we be moisturising the body in winter?

Sarah believes in moisturising the skin twice daily to keep the skin nourished and protected.

“It is really important to keep the skin nourished during winter and not allow the skin to dry out, especially as you age. The drier, thinner and finer the skin, the more it is prone to tearing, and cuts won’t heal.”

Brought to you by Vaseline

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