'Lockdown skin' is a thing - here's how to beat it
Date: Apr 2020
When lockdown began, you may have thought that your skin would significantly improve. With no more polluting commutes to overly-air conditioned offices, your skin would finally be able to breathe. And that’s before you consider the long-overdue makeup break.
Yet here we are, four weeks in, and your skin is anything like ours, it looks worse than ever. How does that work?
Well, ‘lockdown skin’ is definitely a thing. Lots of us are finding that we’re breaking out with spots, our t-zones are more oily than ever or our skin is getting duller and drier.
But why is spending so much time at home having such a detrimental effect on our dermis?
Hands up if your healthy eating regime has taken a bit of bashing since lockdown began! Oh, so that’s most of us then *slowly dunks the fourth bourbon biscuit of the morning*.
You may normally fill up on whole foods but boredom, stress and convenience have had many of us snacking on processed and packaged grub.
Lockdown has been like a really long sleepover. For comfort, many of us have tucked into sweets, crisps, chocolate (not forgetting that Easter was only a few weeks ago)…to say nothing of all the stress baking we’ve done.
Talking of stress, feeling pranged out plays a majorly disruptive role in just about every bodily process.
Weeks and weeks of anxiety and disrupted sleep will have taken its toll on your body. When we’re stressed, our body pumps out cortisol - the stress hormone. That can be useful sometimes (it makes us more alert for exams, for example) but when we’re producing cortisol every day, that’s when it becomes a chronic issue. Continuous doses can impact our bodies in lots of negative ways and skin is just one of them. Our faces become oily and prone to inflammation and breakouts.
Sure it’s been warm but it’s not been totally scorching during lockdown so it may come as a bit of surprise to learn that your dry, dull skin is a result of dehydration.
So why is that? Well, let’s start by looking at how many cups of tea and coffee you’re getting through. If you start the day with a big cup of Joe and then sip on sugary teas throughout the day, it’s been suggested that you may be drying out your system. Tea and coffee are mild diuretics which means that they help your body to get rid of sodium and water. Get rid of too much water without replenishing, however, and your skin is the first organ to suffer.
Vitamin D deficiency
If you’ve not been out for a long time, there’s every chance that you may be suffering from a vitamin D deficiency. Some of us are more prone to this than others (if you’re non-white and/or have a condition like PCOS then you may struggle with getting enough of the stuff).
How to glow up before lockdown is over
Drink more water
While the jury is still out about whether or not caffeine does actually dehydrate the system or not, drinking more water is always a good idea.
Try to aim for at least two litres of water or herbal tea. You want to keep your liquids as sugar and caffeine-free as possible.
We’re in the middle of a global pandemic - it’s OK to feel stressed, depressed, anxious or unsettled. Maybe you’re juggling home schooling with your day job or you’re still getting used to spending all day with your family. Perhaps you’re missing your family members who live elsewhere. There are lots of reasons to feel on edge.
It’s definitely worth trying to employ a few different technics for managing stress when it crops up so that you can keep that cortisol level as low as possible. Not only will your skin thank you but your mind and body in general will reap the benefits.
Try this free 30 minute yoga for anxiety and stress flow to get the mind focussed on moving and firing up the parasynthetic nervous system (that’s the thing that reassures the body and mind that it’s safe!).
Or why not give a 15 minute anxiety meditation a go?
If you’re not on the high-risk list, then you can and should be taking a break outdoors. Go for a lunchtime walk or an evening jog. Walk the dogs. You don’t have to be out for long and you obviously need to observe the social distancing rules while you’re at it.
If you can’t leave the house, try to spend time in your garden or on your balcony. And if you don’t have access to outdoor space, then open a window, put a chair next to it and spend 20 minutes a day soaking in the rays as you read the paper, listen to the radio or do some gentle stretching.
You only need to spend 15 minutes in the sun a day - it’s such a short amount of time to get the nutrients you need. Make sure that your wrists and neck are uncovered. If you plan to spend more time in the sun then wear SPF but remember that as suncream can block vitamin D production, try to give yourself a 10 minute window before slathering it on.
If going out in the sun really isn’t an option, you can get vitamin D supplements easily online (it’s the only vitamin supplement that the NHS recommends people taking!) and mushrooms are really high in the vitamin. Mushroom risotto, anyone?
Now isn’t the time for dieting and restricting. Life is stressful enough without adding calorie-counting and hanger issues into the mix. But it is worth just looking at the kinds of you foods you snack on and planning when you’re going to having your sweet treats.
Make sure you’ve got fresh or dried fruits by your desk (think: apples, oranges, prunes, dried apricots, raisins) for a dose of vitamins, fibre and energy. If you get 11am pangs, have a slice of toast with peanut butter for a satisfying protein-carb-fat hit.
It’s OK to eat chocolate and sweets but try to save them for after your meals. That way, you avoid spiking your blood sugar and then sending it crashing back down (when you feel you need to reach for a coffee!).
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Information written by the talkhealth team
Last revised: 22 April 2020
Next review: 22 April 2023