Months of being stuck at home with more stress, sugar, not to mention exposure to sun and blue light from screens, means our skin is suffering more than ever. Leading cosmetic doctor, Dr Paris Acharya (www.drparis.co.uk) reveals her insider secrets to revitalising post-lockdown skin…
- Swap your oil based cleansers for foaming ones ‘Maskne’ is one of the most prevalent concerns of post-lockdown skin, warns Dr Paris Acharya, leading cosmetic doctor based on Harley Street. ‘Increased occlusion and pressure points from the masks we’re wearing all day is manifesting as acne flare-ups.’ The problem is two-fold; with the first issue being that you’re physically covering the skin and creating a warm, moist environment that is leading to increased skin congestion and acne. Secondly, this “maskne” can very well be due to the saliva and nasal secretions likely be living on your mask if you haven’t washed it in a while. ‘The key to treating acne at home is controlling the oil production and removing dead skin,’ explains Dr Paris Acharya. ‘Ensuring you have a skincare range that is oil free and avoiding certain serums is essential as the oil in those products will only exacerbate acne. Look for cleansers which are foaming yet gentle as these will reduce oil production and ensure that your makeup is non-comedogenic as this will allow your skin to breathe and help prevent blocked pores.’
- Cut back on sugar and alcohol
We all know that sugar and alcohol aren’t good for our bodies in excess, and can promote weight gain. However, it’s important not to underestimate the impact they have on the skin. Sugar’s oxidative properties can provoke ageing, acne and breakouts. And with many of us eating more refined sugars than ever before due to lockdown we are finding our skin is worse than ever.
‘Eating a healthy nutrient rich diet and drinking lots of water can have a significant impact, as can reducing alcohol, caffeine and sugar intake,’ says Dr Acharya.
- Remove dead skin cells When dead skin cells build up on the surface of the skin they can block hair follicles and cause breakouts. Topical retinoids work by removing the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin and improving turnover to help prevent them building up in hair follicles. This helps to reduce breakouts and make dull skin appear brighter and revitalised. (It is important to see a specialist to prescribe the right medical skincare regimen for your individual needs. Please note these are not suitable for use during pregnancy or nursing).
- Double up the cleansing
Most people cleanse in the evening when they remove their make-up before bed, but did you know it’s advisable to cleanse in the morning too?
‘Our skin is exposed to pollutants in the environment all the time, as well as irritants found in the home and garden. By cleansing the skin twice a day you’ll help to remove these foreign pollutants and irritants and ensure skin remains fresh and clear,’ explains Dr Paris Acharya. ‘It’s important to remember that even without make-up our skin still produces oil and sweat that should be cleansed away. A lack of vitamin D and, again, stress could also contribute to a duller complexion.’
- Turn your screen off for an hour
According to the dermatologists, hyperpigmentation from blue light is causing havoc for our skin. And if you’ve noticed a worsening of existing melasma or new hyperpigmentation creep up, it’s likely due to the double screens you have up in your home office.
It’s for this reason that Dr Paris Acharya advises trying to reduce the time spent in front of a screen by an hour or so a day.
High Energy Visible Light or ‘blue light’ refers to the higher frequency, shorter wavelengths of light in the violet-blue band in the visible spectrum.
‘Research has shown that HEV light influences skin conditions and can cause skin to age prematurely. Whilst UV light penetrates the outer layers of the skin, HEV light penetrates the deeper layers (the dermis),’ explains Dr Acharya. ‘Although HEV light isn’t associated with skin cancer or sunburn, it is associated with ageing and can also induce hyperpigmentation that may contribute to conditions such as age or sun spots.’
Reducing screen time will help to reduce the exposure to this skin-damaging light and help to improve the appearance and texture of skin in the process.
- Apply high factor SPF inside!
It’s not a secret that high factor SPF protects our skin against the sun’s harmful rays, however we also need to protect it against the HEV rays that are given out from TV, computer, mobile phone and tablet screens. ‘I personally recommend the PCA Skin Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45,’ says Dr Acharya. ‘It’s a quick-absorbing broad spectrum sunscreen, providing antioxidant protection against UV rays. A lightweight, easy to absorb broad spectrum sunscreen recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation for daily use that protects the skin from UV rays.’
Many of us are noticing a distinct lack of glow after months of being stuck at home trying to take on any number of tasks from work and homeschooling, to caring for relatives. It’s no surprise that it’s impacting the skin.
‘The answer to persistent dryness and a lack of glow is to exfoliate, says cosmetic doctor, Dr Paris Acharya. “The first step in your skincare regimen should be to cleanse your face with an appropriate cleanser for your skin type, I recommend double cleansing to ensure a truly effective clean. For ingredients to properly absorb into your skin as you continue on with your regimen, you need to ensure that your skin is free of oil and dirt. Spending just ten minutes in total on cleansing your face will help reduce oily build-up and acne break outs. This is particularly important at this time of year when people are applying sun lotion and spending more time outside exposed to external factors such as pollution, pollen and dust.
‘Next apply a toner to help replenish any water your skin barrier lost when you washed and dried your face. This step also provides additional cleansing, shrinks pores and helps balance your skin’s pH. After cleansing, gently sweep your toner over your clean, dry skin
‘Serums should be the next step within your regimen. Serums are essentially extremely concentrated nutrients, hydrators, and antioxidants. Applying a vitamin C serum such as PCA Skin’s C&E Advanced in the morning will help to minimise pigmentation, repair skin cells that have undergone oxidative damage and diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.’
According to Dr Acharya, retinol is of huge importance when it comes to giving us our glow back. ‘Retinols exfoliate the skin by increasing cellular turnover and help to stimulate collagen production revealing healthy fresh skin underneath,’ she says. ‘They also reduce pigmentation, fight free radicals and thicken the deeper layers of the skin reducing wrinkle formation.’