COVID-19 has affected most areas of our lives. Many are either working from home or suiting up in PPE to keep themselves safe at their jobs. Face masks are the rule at most grocery stores and other indoor venues. Many people are feeling socially isolated, and some are even hesitant to go to their regular medical and dental appointments. During these difficult times, you might notice that you’re breaking out more than usual or that your hands are dry and rough. Here are some tips on practicing good skin care during COVID-19 and beyond.
Keep Up With Your Routines
If you’re working from home now and not attending class or meeting friends for lunch, it’s tempting to skip your daily beauty routine. You might not bother washing your face in the morning or applying moisturizer. While it’s fine to skip makeup, you should still practice good skin care habits by washing it with a gentle cleanser, toning, and applying a moisturizer that is appropriate for your skin type.
You also want to be sure that you’re showering regularly, washing your hair, and exfoliating the skin on your body. Keeping up with your regular routines can help relieve stress and anxiety (more on that later!) and it can also keep your skin in good condition. Dull skin that hasn’t been exfoliated can be uncomfortable and itchy, and scratching is just going to make it worse. Head off these problems in advance by using your regular products as though you were still getting up and going to work or class.
Make Your Hands Soft and Smooth
You know the mantra: Wash your hands for 20 seconds, or for the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice. In addition to washing after using the restroom and before preparing food, now you need to be sure to scrub up or use hand sanitizer anytime you leave your house, after getting the mail, after signing for a package, and so on.
For many of us, this means we’re washing dozens of times per day – and that can make your hands feel dry, tight, and itchy. The secret here is to use a mild soap and a thick moisturizer every time you wash. While hand sanitizer with a high ratio of alcohol is great for killing germs, it can also really do a number on your skin. Whenever possible, opt for soap and warm water (it does not have to be hot) over hand sanitizer.
If sanitizer is your only option, rub it in until it is completely dry, then use a heavy moisturizer afterward. If you’re washing with soap and water, be sure to dry your hands thoroughly before rubbing in cream. Consider wearing gloves when you wash dishes and do other types of cleaning. They won’t negate the need for you to wash your hands, but they will keep your hands from being submerged in water and soap or chemicals.
We know that masks work to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, and we urge you to wear them as appropriate during your errands, your workday, and other times when you need to be near other people who you don’t live with. Unfortunately, masks can exacerbate acne on your chin, nose, and cheeks if you’re prone to it. Here are some tips:
- Use paper or cotton masks that are completely clean and dry. Synthetic fabrics can keep your skin warmer and increase perspiration.
- Throw away or wash masks frequently. If you’re prone to acne, it is best to change out your mask every few hours, if possible. Stocking up on inexpensive cotton masks is a great way to save money and the environment.
- Use a gentle laundry detergent. Your facial skin is more sensitive than the skin on other parts of your body, so don’t use a detergent that is heavily fragranced. Also, skip the fabric softener on the loads that contain your masks.
- Don’t skip the moisturizer. You might think that wearing moisturizer or makeup will make your maskne worse, but a thin layer of a product you already use and tolerate well can actually create a barrier between your skin and the mask, reducing irritation and breakouts.
- Use a gentle cleanser on your face. Be meticulous about washing your face before bed each night. Use a light touch and be sure to moisturize for your skin type afterward.
If you’re home more often than usual, you might be dealing with a drying air conditioning system. In several months, that will switch over to a drying heating system in many parts of the country. Dry air can lead to skin dryness and sensitivity. It can even make eczema worse in some people.
Consider running a humidifier if you have dry air in your home or office. Be sure to keep it clean to avoid any bacterial or fungal buildup in the water tank. Also, make sure you’re drinking enough water. Eight glasses per day are generally recommended, but tailor this to your activity level and how thirsty you are.
Keep Stress at Bay
These are stressful times, and many people are struggling with anxiety and worry. You probably already know that stress can negatively impact your skin. It can make skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema worse, and it can also cause you to neglect good skin care habits. Learning how to handle stress will help you feel better and it can also improve your skin health.
Try to stick to a daily routine even if your days are not as structured as they once were. Exercise regularly (and then rinse or wash your face afterward!). Eat mostly healthy foods; this will keep you more healthy overall, help you to avoid the “quarantine 15,” and brighten your skin. Get enough sleep. Try meditating or journaling to relieve stress and anxiety. If you are still struggling, contact your doctor and ask for a telehealth appointment to talk about how you’re feeling.
Going through a worldwide pandemic is not on anyone’s list of ways to have a good time, but you can and will get through it. By paying some attention to your skin, you can even get through it while looking and feeling your best. Show your skin some TLC by maintaining good skin care habits during COVID-19, and survive quarantine while looking and feeling your absolute best!