by Alice Falkai
Has your skin been freaking out during self-isolation? Even though ‘ISO-skin’ or ‘self-isolation skin’ are not exactly real terms, they definitely accurately describe what is happening to so many of us at the moment. You could be experiencing severely dry and itchy skin, but it is also super common to suffer from breakouts and even rashes.
Even though we are all doing so many things that our skin is supposed to love, like wearing less makeup, reducing sun exposure and just generally having more time to dedicate towards taking care of our skin, it appears that a lot of us are experiencing some skin issues. If you’re anything like me, you may also be battling a whole heap of skin issues at once, and it can be really disheartening, especially giving everything that's going on in the world now.
What is ISO Skin Caused By?
So why is this happening? Essentially, there are heaps of reasons why this is happening. For so many of us, our skin can erupt in chaos when there are changes in routines and environments. Because of COVID-19, most Australians have had to adapt their way of life, which includes staying indoors a lot more than usual, which has led to a lot of us having changes to our diets, sleep schedule, and stress levels. Likewise, having a lack of vitamin D and fresh air can also have a detrimental effect on the skin.
All these things can lead to a disrupted skin barrier, meaning that the skin is lacking lipids and is then prone to environmental stressors, hence the dryness and sensitivity.
But never fear, there are some really easy ways to combat these issues! The key is to keep it simple and to gently build back up your skin barrier.
Ingredients That Will Save ISO Skin
If your skin is feeling dry, tight, itchy or sensitive, you may want to look for products which have ingredients such as ceramides and hyaluronic acid.
Ceramides are great because they are fats that are naturally found in the epidermis that act as the cement that hold skin cells together. They are super important for the way our skin looks and functions, so when your skin is freaking out, adding them to your routine will help rebuild it. Ceramides can be found in heaps of different products, but it is best to look for them in moisturisers. Though, according to many dermatologists, not all ceramide-based products are made equal, so it's best to look for ones that are dermatologist recommended, such as the range from CeraVe.
Hyaluronic acid is probably an ingredient that you are all familiar with, but in case you’re not, it acts as a magnet for water, as it draws hydration from the air into the skin. What’s really great about HA is that it plays well with all skin types! Look for a HA based serum and apply it day and night to ensure that your skin is getting the TLC it needs. To get the most of your HA serum, apply it when your skin is damp, either from a facial mist or straight after cleansing.
Speaking of cleansing, try and find one that is nice and simple. Fragrance, sulfates and alcohol can all be harmful, especially when your skin condition is already compromised, so look for a cleanser that does not contain those kinds of ingredients and is also soap-free. If your skin is severely sensitive, even consider an oil or a balm cleanser. Also, avoid cleansing in the shower, as the heat can increase dryness and sensitivity.
Exfoliate The Right Way
When it comes to exfoliation, it's best to be gentle. While it can be tempting to turn to your strong AHA/BHA products to try to combat the rough texture that can come with dry skin, just keep in mind that they also have the potential to cause even more inflamation. The more you exfoliate, the more your skin barrier will be weakened.
If you are in the mood for some exfoliation, consider PHAs (polyhydroxy acids). It is less sensitising than glycolic and lactic acids as they do not penetrate as deep, so you can still take care of any unwanted skin texture without compromising your skin barrier, especially if you use them 1-2 nights a week.
So if your skin is going through a tough time, the main thing to remember is to keep it simple and to be consistent, as it is more important to focus on giving back to your skin, rather than to take away. And just know that if you’re going through a rough patch with your skin, you are not alone!