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Why you’re breaking out during quarantine

It was quarantine’s last straw when pimples started sprouting up left and right the other day.

I don’t know about you, but my skin type feels like it’s completely changed in the past few weeks. Friends have told me that I’m not alone as they’re experiencing severe dry patches on their faces like never before. Others say they’ve become increasingly more oily. Why TF is this?!

I had to ask a dermatologist for answers and was heartened to know that Dr. Lamees Hamdan was open for my interrogations. Dr. Hamdan (@shiffbeauty) has been studying dermatology for over 20 years. When it came time to merge her medical background and love of beauty she launched her skincare company, Shiffa, and her supplement company, DL.MD. She says there are three key reasons as to why we’re experiencing changes in our skin and seeing an increase in acne.

SEE ALSO: How self-isolation is messing with your skin and what you can do 

Lack of exercise. Turns out moving our bodies is one of the biggest culprits of bad skin. “Exercise is a time where we let go of a lot of stress and receive oxygenation to our skin,” she tells Very Good Light. “And if we’re not getting enough exercise or as much as we’re used to due to quarantine, it can seriously mess with our skin’s ability to breathe and maintain a healthy moisture barrier.”

Diet. Simple carbs and sugars have been comforting us in a time like this but it hasn’t been doing our skin any favors. “Sugar causes inflammation and it also wreaks havoc with your blood glucose levels, creating inflammation and then a lot of acne as well,” says Dr. Lamees. (You can read more about your diet in quarantine here.)

Stress. We know how stress can influence our skin. Breakouts, red patches, puffiness; we’ve seen it all. And even if you’re handling everything well during this time, it doesn’t negate the fact that you could still be stressed. Scrambling to turn in last-minute assignments or dealing with the woes of online learning/remote work…there’s a lot that can be stressing us out right now.

So what are the solutions? Dr. Hamdan gives us a crash course of her recommendations, below!

Acids are your BFFs!

Dr. Hamdan believes everyone should own a toner or peel containing salicylic and glycolic acid. We can’t disagree, both acids are heroes in treating and healing acne during many different stages. Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid or a ‘BHA’ and it’s a very common ingredient within most acne products.

Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid or ‘AHA,’ one of the smallest on a molecular level, allowing for deep skin penetration. Glycolic acid is responsible for taking away the pigmentation that your pimple leaves behind. Dr. Hamdan says if you have a darker skin tone, glycolic acid is especially important as often the pigmentation can be seen longer than the pimple itself.

Finding a salicylic and glycolic acid peel or a liquid solution is key to treating your quarantine acne. Dr. Hamdan recommends using a liquid solution as a spot treatment every night. If you have a peel, she says to start your routine twice a week using it as a mask on your entire face. You can wash it off and continuing the rest of your routine as usual. 

VGL’s Picks: Shiffa’s Tri-Acid Radiance Peel (on sale for $57.12 currently!), M-61’s PowerGlow Peel (10 treatments for $30), or The Ordinary’s Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution ($8.70).

Facial steaming. 

To help your pores out a bit, steam them! Sometimes they need a little extra nudge to get that bacteria and gunk out that is causing you to break out. Fill a bowl of hot water and put a few drops of tea tree, thyme, or even rosemary essential oils in. If you don’t have those on hand, Dr. Hamdan says a squeeze of lemon will do the trick. Letting your face sit over the steaming bowl of water will open your pores and help with any puffiness due to decongestion or inflammation. Pro tip: You can do this as many times a week as you’d like before you begin your nighttime skincare routine. 

If you need to give your existing pimples a little bit more love and you have any essential oils or a fresh lemon on hand, you can spot treat with those as well. Tea tree, lavender, and even chamomile are perfect for this. Just be careful if you’re using an oil that is ‘neat’ or ‘straight’ to dilute with water a bit. 

Muslin cloths. 

If there’s one thing Dr. Hamdan is passionate about, it’s muslin cloths and their benefits. She coins them as “the cheapest skincare game-changer, ever.” With any cleanser or mask, rinsing it off with a muslin cloth offers a slight amount of exfoliation, improves your circulation, and brightens the look of your skin almost instantly. And, they’re 100% eco friendly! Just wash and reuse.

VGL’s picks: Shiffa’s Organic Muslin Cloths (it’s a 3 pack, and currently on sale for $16.80!) 

Clay masks.

Using a clay mask once or twice a week is great because we’re not going outdoors. By not going outside as much, our skin isn’t being exposed to important vitamins and minerals. Dr. Hamdan loves clay masks due to their richness in silica and other minerals that our body and skin needs to remain healthy and balanced. Clay masks can help combat excess oil and draw out any impurities stuck deep into your skin. If you have cystic acne, clay masks are able to get deep, deep into your pores and ease the inflammation and bacteria that causes your painful cysts.

VGL’s picks: Aztec Secret’s Indian Healing Clay ($13)

TLDR; don’t overdo it

While now seems like the perfect time to catch up and indulge in a crazy number of treatments within our skincare regimen, we can’t overdo it. By overdoing it, we could be stripping our skin and causing breakouts. 

Instead, Dr. Hamdan recommends taking the time to treat your skin with care while making sure not to overwhelm it. Taking the time to cleanse a bit better, adding in a 2 minute facial massage, masking regularly, and even a FaSha tool to improve your circulation and get your lymphatic system moving. With these steps in mind, rest assured, even if you don’t get your perfect quarantined skin, don’t worry. “Perfect” is subjective after all. Truly, all that matters if that you’re safe, healthy, and staying hydrated.