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Experts Share How To Look After Your Skin During Lockdown

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The current lockdown situation in the UK, although completely necessary, may have had an impact on your health in a number of ways, whether physical or mental. As well as this, it's likely that your skin may be going through some changes too. I've spoken to experts to determine the most common lockdown skin issues you may be dealing with, what causes them, and how best to counteract them to return to your pre-quarantine complexion.

Unfortunately, being inside all the time tends to have negative effects on your skin, rather than positive ones. Many of us may be finding our skin has been a lot drier recently, or that we are unexpectedly breaking out, or experiencing dull, tired skin. This may be surprising seeing as lots of people have skipped the daily commute and may well be getting in a few extra hours of sleep. But a change in environment, constant stress and anxiety, and new habits can all impact the way our faces look and feel, and in this case, it's usually not for the better.

I spoke to the experts to determine what may be causing each skin issue during lockdown, and how best to solve these new problems.

Dry skin
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The problem: One of the most common issues many of us may be dealing with right now is much drier skin, be it tight feeling faces or flaking and itchy skin.

The cause: The experts I spoke to largely agree that this is down to a change in environment. We are used to being outside and having fresh air, and many of us are now stuck inside.

"There are many factors that can make your skin drier when working indoors," explains Megan Felton, Co-Founder of skin consultancy Lion/Ne. "The first is the artificial environment of your house aka the heating. Heating is a nightmare for our skin, as it dehydrates and can even compromise the bilayer structure of the barrier function."

The solution: In order to avoid dryness or dehydration, you'll need to take a double-pronged approach from the inside, as well as from the outside.

First up, maintaining our body's hydration levels is crucial, says Rowan Hall-Farrise, Global Head of Education, QMS Medicosmetics. "There is no excuse – we can all drink water right now. We are not out and about and we have time and at the moment, so please please drink your water!"

If you don't enjoy drinking water all day long, she has some ideas for changing it up a bit: "Warm, cold, with lemon, with apple cider vinegar or with cucumber and fresh mint; however you prefer it, it counts." She also recommends, "sipping it slowly so your body has time to take the hydration on board; there's no need to gulp it down." Felton also suggests avoiding super hot showers (which can affect your skin barrier and result in dehydration).

Then there's the skincare products you can apply topically to the skin. Colette Laxton, Co-Founder of The Inkey List, recommends using hyaluronic acid twice a day, and also masking regularly.

Felton also recommends adding ceramides to your routine. Ceramides help to protect the skin's barrier, meaning moisture is locked in more effectively. I love the entire range my CeraVe, which all features ceramides.

Dullness

The problem: As well as dry skin, it's likely that many of us are experiencing bouts of dullness right now. Gone are the days where our complexions glowed, and that 'lit-from-within' radiance factor may have depleted.

The cause: As well as stress, lack of sleep, and poor diet, a change in environment such as being stuck inside with drying heating can make skin look less bright and healthy. Dehydration can cause things to look a little underwhelming, and the natural defences our skin uses to target dryness and dehydration can actually often lead to dullness, says Felton. "The skin tries to compensate [for dehydration] by slowing skin cell turnover, which makes the outer dead skin layer thicker, and while that helps a little, it can make the skin look dull and flaky," she explains.

The solution: Drinking lots of water and water-rich foods is again a crucial step to take here, as that natural bounce and glow is often synonymous with well-hydrated skin. Felton also emphasises the importance of "making sure you to have a regular skin routine," during these times, and not letting it slip. That means remembering to cleanse, serum, and moisturise (at the very least) every morning and night, without fail.

As well as your usual routine, add in targeted ingredients, such as Niacinamide. "It's great for when skin is feeling dull to boost the overall radiance and even out skin tone," notes Felton. "We like Niacinamide in the form of boosters, as they are very easy to just add into your moisturiser." Try The Inkey List's Niacinamide, which will only set you back £6.99.

Blue Light damage
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The problem: A whole host of skin issues, including inflammation, sensitivity, dryness, and uneven skin texture.

The cause: Unfortunately, our devices can also emit damaging blue light, which the experts I spoke to agree can cause major issues. High Energy Visible (HEV) light sources include the sun, computers, smartphones, and tablets, explains Nicolas Travis, Founder of Allies of Skin. "Research has shown that HEV light generates similar amounts of reactive free radicals, as UVA and UVB rays combined." With the increased amount of screen time many of us are facing at the moment, this is rather worrying.

The solution: As with rays from the sun, protection from blue light largely comes in the form of SPF, meaning you should still be wearing one whilst inside.

However, Travis explains that SPF should not be the only thing you're applying in order to tackle this problem; antioxidants are also important. "Treating your skin with antioxidant-rich moisturisers like our Molecular Multi-Nutrient Day Cream and Peptides & Antioxidants Firming Daily Treatment will help boost the effects of your SPF," he says.

As well as using appropriate ingredients, you should target this one at the source by reducing your screen time where possible. After your work hours end, try and step away from the computer and do something other than scroll and stare at your phone for hours, which most of us are guilty of from time to time.

Travis suggests putting your devices on Night Mode as much as possible too (he does so permanently), in order to reduce the HEV light that reaches your skin in the first place.

Breakouts

The problem: Breakouts of all varieties, from under-the-skin bumps to full on acne breakouts.

The cause: There are a few things at play here, and Laxton, of The Inkey List, explains that one of the most prominent right now is stress. "Stress-induced skin changes can come from being cooped up and the stress of jobs etc. Added to this, eating habits may have changed and we're not moving as much. This complete change in lifestyle is more likely to cause breakouts and unbalanced skin."

A No 7 scientific advisor also agrees that more stress and anxiety equals more stressed out and anxious skin. "Stress and anxiety increase hormones within the body [Writer's note: this hormone is called cortisol, the stress hormone] which can trigger inflammation and oxidative stress within the skin leading to unhealthy skin, which could manifest itself through increased oiliness and spots.

Added to that, our skin may be getting used to our new environments and reacting by breaking out, or we may even be picking our skin more while at home, partly out of stress and anxiety, and partly through boredom and habit.

The solution: My best tip is to make sure you have a bunch of pimple patches on hand. These clever patches not only offer a surge of spot-fighting ingredients for your blemish, but they also create a direct physical barrier between your skin and fingers, meaning less face touching and picking.

I'd also recommend trying to keep your skincare routine as consistent as possible. Using lots of different products has never helped me, and skipping your routine out of laziness can prove disastrous.

Laxton recommends adding certain ingredients into your routine to calm down breakout areas, such as niacinamide for balancing out skin, and glycolic acid for oil control.

This is also a perfect time to mask it up; clay and gentle exfoliating formulas are your friend.