The covid lockdowns have been a hiatus like no other in our lifetimes. Not only did our everyday normal change, but our habits did too. We had to learn how to do things ourselves, whether that was home-schooling, giving our housemates and partners a haircut, or raiding our bathroom cabinet for some #selfcare. With spas and salons closed, we were forced to turn to YouTube and IGTV videos for tips on how to tackle #lockdownskin and #homefacial from the experts.
There's a reason professional in-salon and spa facials give deeper, longer-lasting results, but this prolonged isolation forced us to take skincare matters into our own hands, leading to some good and some terribly bad skincare habits.
So, what are these bad habits we’ve adopted and what can we do to fix them?
BAD HABIT: OVER OR MIS-USE OF ACTIVES.
Being forced to adapt and maintain skincare practices at home has turned daily skincare into a more personal and private experience. The upside is that we are suddenly more interested in self-care, and feel rewarded when we see positive results. The downside is that armed with our newly-acquired internet knowledge, and to make use of this extended downtime, we rabidly started buying products containing strong active ingredients. This eagerness to use actives like retinol or stronger Retin-A for resurfacing, vitamin C for lightening, and AHA/BHA/PHA acid peels, have caused a rise in misuse and inevitable side-effects.
To avoid over-use of retinols, try to limit use to once a year and opt for a 10-12 week retinol program as an annual skin reset. Start slow with a solution at 0.025 - 0.05% the first year, and work yourself up to 1% retinol the following year. This way you'll build up your skin's tolerance. The rest of the year, be a vitamin C ninja! Vitamin C application every morning after cleansing (used neat or blended with a hydrating serum) will ensure your skin has ample antioxidant protection, and that the skin barrier function is supported to give you healthy, bright, blemish-free skin.
ZO Self Activating Vitamin C 10% Serum for day use. Always follow with SPF!
You may also book a 1-2-1 Virtual Skin-Health Consultation (30mins from £125) to approach the selection and best use of actives with the help of my trained expertise.
BAD HABIT: SELF EXTRACTIONS.
Don't pick that pimple! Use an AHA/BHA peel instead.
Lockdowns have affected our work, social lives and income, which ultimately increased our levels of stress. When we’re anxious, the body ramps up cortisol production causing inflammation, which can also result in an increase in oil production in the sebaceous glands, eventually leading to breakouts.
Though popping that new angry pimple on your face may be super-tempting and rather satisfying, it’s important to remember that even the slightest bit of over-pressure during your DIY extraction, the lack of disinfection before and after you pop that spot, or even using extraction tools you bought online will leave the skin with the kind of scarring that’ll take a long time to heal and repair.
Not all pores are created equally, so the first rule of facial extraction is to realise that not every pore should be squeezed. When you squeeze the skin and ‘burst’ the pimple, you create a tear in the skin, which then needs to heal and could potentially leave a scar. Avoid any deep or painful pimples, like cysts, completely. These tend to look red and lumpy with no visible head. Attacking those will only inflame the internal infection and very likely prompt scar tissue to develop, which takes ages to heal (and in some cases never fully heals).
A gentle peel at home will do wonders for drying out existing pimples, dissolving blackheads and keeping future breakouts at bay. Try an AHA + BHA peel solution to target a variety of skin issues in one peel, without any downtime.
Acid 7 Formula Peel - (professional strength) to be used once-a-week.
BAD HABIT: HEV & SPF OVERLOOKED.
Applying SPF indoors daily is a must.
Alongside this, facing your phone and devices for extended periods of time will age your face. Blue light, or HEV (high energy visible) light, is one of the silent agers of our generation. Electronic devices emit HEV light that can lead to elastin and collagen damage, pigment changes, and ultimately, photo ageing. Evidence suggests that daily exposure can penetrate deeper into a lower layer of skin compared to UVA and UVB sunlight.
During my virtual consultations and treatments, a worrying fact which has been highlighted is that whilst working from a home desk throughout lockdowns, set up near a window, most of my clients have not been wearing SPF indoors because they feel they’re not exposed to the sun. Wrong! Glass may block the high intensity UVB wavelengths responsible for burning, but the skin-damaging and ageing UVA light still gets through.
When WFH, to reduce HEV exposure to the skin, connect headphones to answer any calls so your phone isn’t near your face. In the evenings, setting a timer to automatically switch your device to night mode will disable blue light in favour of yellow light. It’ll benefit your skin and improve your sleep too.
Daily application of SPF doesn’t just shield your skin from photo-damage when you’re outdoors. A study conducted in 2015 showed that constant use of SPF30 over the course of a year also reversed the signs of photo-ageing. So, if applying a sunscreen seems like yet another skincare step to add to your routine, then start blending an edamame bean-sized amount of SPF with your daily moisturiser to save time. Roughly mix 1 part SPF with 1 part moisturiser. Soon, daily SPF application will seamlessly become a part of your daily routine!
Check out Adeela's anti-ageing treatments in London and in the United States.
The above blog post is an excerpt from the GLAMOUR UK article I contributed to, titled: The damaging skincare habits we developed during lockdown (and what you can do to fix them). Taking skincare matters into our own hands.
Be skin smart.
Words by Adeela Crown.