Do you have #isoface? Why your skin is reacting to staying at home

It seems as though a lot of people are experiencing more breakouts than usual while self-isolating amid the coronavirus outbreak. Here’s exactly what’s causing everyone’s skin to play up. 

You’re stuck at home with nowhere to go and no one to see.

For the first time, you’re able to go days without wearing any, or very little, makeup. Your skin is rejoicing!

But just when you thought your skin would be at its absolute best, you begin to breakout. EVERY. WHERE. Around the mouth, forehead and cheeks. And it just won’t go away.

What you thought your #isoface would be (read: smooth, healthy and glowing) turned out to be the complete opposite: acne-prone, inflamed, dry and lacklustre.

But you’re not alone.

Fitness influencer Laura Henshaw, recently took to Instagram to share a photo of her skin while in iso.

“I just shared on my story about how much my skin has been breaking out throughout this time at home and I just got hundreds and hundreds of messages within 10 minutes about how this is happening to a lot of us,” Henshaw captioned her selfies with.

“I’ve had breakouts around my mouth (and they are the deep painful pimples around here), chin and my hair line and lots of under the skin pimples on my face. Most responses said it was from stress / anxiety. I just wanted to share in case anyone was feeling down about their skin – it’s happening to a lot of us and it is completely ok.”

She concluded: “I just want to preface that I am so lucky with my skin and I know my breakouts aren’t big – but this is a change from my normal skin.”

It’s a huge mystery that’s obviously affecting most of us while we self-isolate, so what’s the cause behind it?

We asked two leading experts on why we’re experiencing #isoface.

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Unfortunately this is the biggest factor.

“Stress is a well-known culprit for causing breakouts,” pharmacist and founder of QED Skincare Shoshana Eisner, tells body+soul. “Right now, we are under more stress than ever before.”

Dr Irene Prantalos, founder of Salubre Skin Clinic, says the reason for this heightened stress is because we are living in a time of uncertainty.

“We can’t simply go to our local café, run around our local park or wander around enjoying a retail therapy,” Prantalos tells body+soul. “These restrictions are essential but they impact every aspect of who we are as Australians.

“This is only for a short period of time for the greater good but nonetheless this still has an impact on our emotional state. When we stress, we release stress hormones that increase testosterone which leads to increased oily skin. This blocks the pores and causes more acne breakouts.”

Poor nutrition

Yep, you now have free access to the kitchen 24/7, your weekly meal-prep game has slacked off and it’s snack o’clock all day long.

“When we are home we tend to eat more and snacks are an easy treat to grab when looking for something in your pantry. Sugar and a high carb diet will increase acne breakouts as this causes inflammation in the skin,” Prantalos explains. Because these foods also impact our hormones, breakouts around the mouth region will occur.

Increased alcohol consumption

Alcohol = inflammation.

“People are drinking more whether it be out of boredom or feeling the stress and anxiety that needs to be settled. The impact is more inflammation affecting the skin, resulting in more breakouts,” Prantalos says.

But this doesn’t mean you need to completely cut out alcohol altogether. “Simply saying stop drinking may only work for some, so if you do decide to enjoy a nice glass a wine remember the liver needs a little help in cleansing the alcohol from your body. So, for every glass of alcohol consumed, it would be ideal to have one litre of filtered water.”

Getting slack with your skincare routine

“When no-one is seeing you, it can be tempting to just skip it,” Eisner says. “Even if you are not wearing makeup, this is not the time to skip your regular cleanse. This is something to continue religiously.”

If anything, it’s the perfect time to set aside extra time to care for your skin.

“Your extra home-time is a great opportunity to treat your skin to a weekly mask. If you are time-poor, this is no excuse; just find an easy to use mask.”

Poor/disrupted sleep

Your sleeping patterns have most likely changed – later wake up calls and later nights staying up binge watching Tiger King? Guilty.

But this all affects your skin.

“With limited activity during the day, many people are struggling to get to sleep at night,” Prantalos explains. “This may be centred around not easily getting asleep or perhaps frequent waking in the night.

“Our sleep is when our body and skin rejuvenates. If sleep becomes disrupted, this can also upset skin health and lead to more breakouts.”

Wearing a surgical face mask

Wearing a face mask when out on your essential excursions can prevent the skin from breathing properly.

“If you are sweating under your mask, make sure you cleanse as soon as you get home or grab a witch hazel based mist to spray on your face when it’s sweaty,” Eisner advises.

Wrong skincare products

“You may just need to change your routine for the next little while,” Eisner says. “Consider changing to products which are not as rich; perhaps not being in your air-conditioned office all the time means that your skin doesn’t need such a hydrating routine at the moment.”

How to beat #isoskin

So you’ve broken out. Now what?

“Your skin is possibly going through a period of adjustment right now,” Eisner says. “To a certain extent, your body will adjust to the “new normal” but it may take a few weeks.”

Regardless if you have or haven’t broken out, take care of your skin by following Prantalos’ simple solutions:

  • Drinks loads of water;
  • Enjoy a balance of fresh fruits and vegetables;
  • Use your time cooking delicious meals that you can store away for when you don’t have the interest in cooking. Slow cooked meals are great now that the weather has cooled down and will retain all the nutrients to maximise nutritional intake;
  • Make some sugar free treats. There are loads of recipes on the Internet that are sugar free and use low GI carbs that will help you feel fuller for longer and stop that 3pm drop in energy;
  • Meditate daily. This in itself will help you manage emotions and help you enjoy more mindfulness in such crazy times. This will also help you feel tired so you can get an early night’s sleep;
  • Get moving. Whether you are choosing to go for a walk outside, get fit with a YouTube fitness instructor, or take part in body+soul’s free LIVE @ home workouts, the choices are endless. Exercise is a fantastic way to improve skin health and balance out the hormones, plus it clears the mind;
  • Finally, if you are experiencing a breakout, try a green clay masque that will detox your skin while watching your favourite show on TV.

It’s important to remember that your skin will adjust, this difficult time will pass and with a little extra TLC, your skin will return back to its healthy and glowing state.

More essential coronavirus reading:

Read up on what the government lockdown means for you, understand why Aussie doctors are up arms, be aware of the ‘hidden symptom’ of COVID-19 carriers, prepare yourself for the long-term mental health effects of the pandemic, get your sweat on at home with these free online workouts before reviving your over-washed hands with this DIY balm, and then console yourself with these unexpected joys.