Skincare routine? What skincare routine?
If the last few months are anything to go by, I can honestly say that keeping up my normal skincare routine was one of the last things on my mind. From the 19th March 2020, it felt like our lives had literally been turned upside down and without a hope in sight for what the future may hold.
On my social media channels, I was very open about how I struggled early on (like so very many of us did) to get a grip on what felt like an uncontrollable situation, clouded with anxiety and uncertainty.
However thankfully, nearly four months later, we’re all now adjusting to a ‘new normal’ and hoping the worst has passed and that the world can make a speedy, global recovery
Amidst the craziness of lockdown life though, one of new adjustments I had to make was in fact, to my skin. I’ve always been open about the journey I’ve had in trying to understand how and why my skin behaves the way it does. As many of you know, before my career as a personal stylist, I spent thirteen years working in the beauty industry. Thankfully, because of my experience and expertise in the field, and in addition to my personal skin issues, I’ve been fortunate enough to have trialled and tested some of the best products on the market.
My skin is what I like to call a four-fold nightmare(!) Oily, dehydrated, hypersensitive and blemish prone!
I’ve had bouts of acne triggered by stress in the past, but nothing quite like the flare up I’ve had during lockdown!
Even though stress cannot ‘directly’ cause acne, it can be a contributing factor to triggering excess oiliness in the skin, which in turn triggers breakouts.
I knew this was my body reacting to how I was handling the pandemic crisis psychologically.
In periods of stress and anxiety – I knew that this was how my skin would normally react and if I wanted to curb this particularly bad episode – I was going to have to restore my disrupted skincare regime and work to reduce my anxiety levels.
Continued periods of stress cause an influx of activity for the adrenal glands, (which regulate stress), to in turn produce more sebum from the sebaceous glands stimulated by these stress levels.
Thankfully, as we’ve seen the ease of lockdown restrictions, I’m now on the other side of the flare up, but I wanted to share with you my top tips and recommendations that have helped me to combat and calm my stress-induced acne
Less than 72 hours after the official lockdown was announced, I woke up with a face full of lumps, bumps and blemishes.
Nobody knows your skin and body better than yourself, and for me, I looked in the mirror that morning and knew what was going on! Especially, as I had recently returned from the Caribbean completely rested and my skin glowing.. But how could I panic about it? There were so many more urgent matters going on around me, so I knew it was best just to give myself the time I needed to adjust to the unprecedented situation, and simply allow my skin to react.
So, my normal skincare routine was COMPLETELY out of sync!
I always advise my clients of the importance of cleansing, and how a daily double cleanse can be one of the most impactful parts of your everyday skincare routine; A primary cleanse to remove the everyday make-up, dirt and grime buildup on the skin, and then a secondary, richer cleanser (preferably a melting cleanser which transits from a gel to an oil and then to a milk when used) to really unclog the pores and tone the skin.
But now I was stuck at home, not wearing make-up every day, and my normal double cleanse routine completely interrupted. Also, due to the acne flare up, it wasn’t a good idea to use my normal exfoliator.
The New Routine.
Firstly, I cut out the double cleanse and instead have one gentle cleanse in the morning and another before bed.
Dr Sturm For Darker Skin Tones – This cleanser is lightweight, silky smooth and very refreshing. The milky foam formulation offers me a deeper cleanse without overly stripping my skin. The added benefit of the salicylic acid means it’s a great way to gently soften all of my dead skin cells, and help to unclog those blocked pores. For those of you with a fairer skin tone and drier skin, you can opt for the Dr Sturm Foaming Cleanser which gives the same, great effect.
Hands down, this serum has been fantastic! I admit I had been holding off on using this pre-lockdown as my skin had been behaving very well, but once I knew I had to re-examine my skincare regime, I knew I was going to finally give it a go.
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10%+Zinc 1% serum is a little gem to get to work at combating the blemishes with the power duo that is niacinamide and zinc. The overall purpose of this serum is to, over time, help to calm and reduce the appearance of stubborn breakouts.
When I put it on, it actually felt like something was working. The whole point of a regime like this is to try and gain back control of your skin. This really helped me to do that, by working to reduce and regulate my sebum (oil) production, thus working like an absolute charm.
As my skin can be sensitive to active ingredients, I also preferred to use this serum every other day rather than daily!
For many years now, I’ve considered exfoliation to be the secret to a youthful and smooth complexion. Exfoliation is all about skin renewal, encouraging the removal of dead, worn out and polluted skin cells to BE GONE! Thus encouraging my skin cycle to speed up and allow my newer, smoother skin cells to surface.
Then as fate would have it, after an extremely bad reaction, I discover I’m actually allergic to glycolic acid (one of the most effective exfoliants on the market!) So..I’ve had to look for alternatives ever since, and I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been easy.
What I had to remind myself with this particularly exacerbated breakout was that yes, exfoliation will still be needed, however not nearly as often as I normally would – so as not to strip the skin too much, which could then in turn cause my sebaceous glands (oil glands) to produce even more oil! So the key was to go gentle and less often.
The Dr Gross Apha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel – these are pads with a 2-step no rinse process in refining the skin, and is ideal for skin that is easily irritated or prone to redness. This gives me just the right amount of exfoliation, due to a gentle but super effective cocktail of resurfacing ingredients, especially during a breakout or acne flare up! A handy mix of lactic acid and naturally derived ingredients.
It may not be the most obvious thing to do when every day a new white head is appearing and you’re trying to regain control of your skin, but it’s vital that you don’t forget to actually continue to replenish and nourish your skin. What can often happen in our quest to combat the overproduction of oil, is that we actually end up stripping too much oil, and not retaining enough of the necessary oils we need to regulate production. So in fact, in retaliation, skin cells can actually produce even more sebum to compensate, and so begins a quite frustrating cycle.
Hence, I believe the key is to rehydrate your whilst you adjust to your new skin routine.
The Odacite Po+R Hydration Concentrate is one of my favourites to do this, and this little bottle of some of the most hard working, botanical extracts helped me through this. The formulation is not too thick, therefore doesn’t leave the skin feeling gloopy or tacky. Rose geranium to encourage skin harmony and keep that sebum production under control and pomegranate to bolster the skin barrier. Throw in some Vitamin E and you have an excellent cocktail that quenches the thirstiest of skins and regulates the oiliest of breakouts. Blend a couple of drops into your lightweight moisturiser, or like me, you can just add a few drops directly onto my skin instead of a moisturiser.
When it comes to the crunch, one of the best things that can be done to help reign in stress acne is to actively work towards reducing your stress levels.
Easier said than done sometimes, I know. Whether it’s that daily work out, meditation or even baking, it is very necessary. (See the pictures at the top of this post for a few of my favourite things that helped me through!)
For me, amongst the craziness of Covid-19, I found that 10 minutes in the shower with the right aromatherapy oils almost always helped me to de-stress.
Created specially to help deal with those ‘out of the blue’ moments and help support emotional rebalance, this is my go-to rescue remedy. Potent Clary Sage, Sandalwood and Geranium, perfectly blended. I swear by it.
Dr Sturm Calming Serum
An investment product? 100%
Worth the price tag? Absolutely!
This serum works wonders on irritated skin. Amazing.