The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many aspects of our life, from mask wearing giving rise to maskne, and other skin conditions; to even the effects of lifestyle changes on our skin. One might think that being home all the time would be a godsend for the skin — if only. From stress-induced inflammation to exposure to long periods of blue light from devices, there are a number of ways that our changed lifestyles factors can affect the skin. In this article, Dr. Teo Wan Lin shares how lifestyle changes can affect your skin and also share some beneficial stay-home skincare tips while you’re working from home.
How has working from home changed our skin? What are some of your best stay-home skincare tips?
Impact of lifestyle changes on the skin
If you have an underlying skin issue, it’s not going to go away just from staying at home. Healthy and troubled skin are rarely purely due to environmental or lifestyle factors such as staying at home or going out. Instead, it is more determined by an individual’s genetic makeup. The cause of eczema and acne, which are the commonest skin problems experienced by people in Singapore, are genetically influenced. Hence, whether or not an individual goes out doesn’t make a difference. One thing that can definitely make all skin conditions worse is stress. So if staying at home makes you more or less stressed, it will have the appropriate effects on the skin. Changes in our daily routines and lifestyle – especially major ones such as the circuit breaker – can lead to body stress even when we can’t feel it.
Additionally, changes in sleep pattern i.e. lack of sleep or even change in hours, can disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythm, which will ultimately affect skin health.
Now that we’ve got more time to ourselves in the morning, it seems like the best time to start building our own multi-step skincare routine, adding in all the steps we didn’t think we had time for before. What are your thoughts on that?
It’s important to pay attention to what is essential, efficient, and sustainable in our skincare routines, rather than focusing on the time spent on them. This is because once life slowly starts to return to normal and picks up pace, we may not have the time to maintain complex, lengthy routines — and that’s to the detriment of our skin.
That’s true, we might have time to keep it up now, but once life slowly starts to return to normal and picks up pace, we may not have the time to maintain complex, lengthy routines — and that’s to the detriment of our skin.
Well since we’re indoors more, under air conditioning and sweating less- and there are days where I don’t even leave the house – does that mean we can skip out on cleansing?
The indoor environment is not necessarily better than the outdoors, as there are still chemicals such as benzenes and formaldehyde emitted from furniture and paintwork. These could act as pollutants and cause free radical damage to our skin. To combat this, it is recommended to use a micellar formula or an oil-based emulsion to dissolve oil-soluble pigments from makeup, and then double-cleanse with an antibacterial cleanser thereafter. This second stage of cleansing would really benefit acne-prone skin if done correctly.
Furthermore, unless you have specific UV filters applied to your windows, you can still be susceptible to sun damage from the light that comes in. Day curtains are also by no means acceptable in terms of replacing sunscreen. For one essential stay-home skincare tip, it is recommended to continue to wear sunscreen even when you’re indoors as it is still possible to be exposed to harmful UVA and UVB rays indoors.
The SunProtector is formulated with physical blockers like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that effectively blocks blue light emitted by indoor devices. Portulaca Oleracea (Purslane) and Oligopeptides in our SunProtector are potent antioxidants which actively fight free radicals generated by blue light as well as airborne pollutants – for comprehensive protection.
Yes, this just be a rule of thumb that applies even when you’re staying home: don’t forget your sunscreen. Apart from that, it goes without saying that we should be mindful of what we eat while we’re working from home. It’s much easier to sit in front of your laptop with a bag of chips when we’re sitting at home.
What are the effects of our diet on our skin?
While you’re at home more often, be mindful not to over-snack as this can increase the risk of inflammatory skin conditions such as adult acne. Avoid diets high in trans fat like deep fried foods, dairy products, and sugary foods as they are pro-inflammatory, which can exacerbate your underlying acne problems.
Additionally, it is important to note that majority of patients with skin problems who start on medical treatments would improve, as long as they comply with the treatments. However, the rate of recovery as well as the sustainability of positive effects is significantly better in the group where they are conscientious with their diet.
We also briefly touched upon the impact of increased mask-wearing on the skin. By now, I think we all know about maskne – which is a type of occlusion acne which before the pandemic, was usually seen on athletes who had to wear helmets or facial gear.
Can you tell us about the types of skin condition we might see that arise due to more frequent mask wearing? How can we prevent these mask-related flare ups?
Increased mask-wearing can have several impacts on the skin. Maskne, a type of occlusion acne, is commonly found on athletes who wear helmets or facial gearwhich before the pandemic. There are different types of skin conditions that may arise due to more frequent mask wearing, so how can we prevent these mask-related flare ups?
Impact of mask wearing on the skin
I published the first international research paper on maskne in October 2020 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology1 which describes the phenomenon of an “O-zone” pattern of acne occurring where the mask occludes the skin and changes microbiome (bacteria) balance and can trigger acne. Besides acne, there are other facial rashes that can occur such as allergic reactions to the fabric dyes, eczema (from textile-skin friction), and worsening of pre-existing facial rashes covered by the face mask such as perioral dermatitis, rosacea and heat rash. I also discussed in my latest research paper how design elements2 that we incorporated into our biofunctional textile mask design help to both protect against the spread of COVID and the skin at the same time.
One way to mitigate this is to have a breathable barrier between the mask and your skin, such as a mask slip. My team has created a mask slip, where you can put in your surgical mask. This allows the mask to be reused and it wicks sweat away. The material used is hypoallergenic and the mask slip can help reduce the risk of developing occlusion acne.
The reusable, washable Lyosilk Mask Slip is designed and created by the Dr.TWL Biomaterials Team to help protect and prolong the lifespan of your surgical mask. It provides a cooling, sweat-wicking, breathable layer against skin to prevent skin irritation due to prolonged surgical mask wear.Tags: skincare tips