Skin care junkies know how regular facials can help maintain a clear complexion, but as spas across the country shut their doors to help flatten the curve, many are wondering: How do I keep my skin in good shape while quarantined at home?
TODAY Style consulted industry pros to help break down everything you need to know about skin care right now. From at-home facial tips to useful tricks for dealing with stress acne, consider this your go-to guide for self-isolation skin care.
1. Your facial appointment can wait
Taking an hour out of your day to treat yourself to a facial can be pretty darn satisfying. But the aestheticians TODAY surveyed all agreed: spa closures are necessary to decrease the spread of COVID-19.
"Being a spa owner, I am going through all of the hardships of being temporarily closed for operations. It is difficult, but I truly believe it was the right decision and I support it. By analyzing data, we can see how fast this virus is spreading, and how many new people are getting infected every day. I think we need to remain closed at least until numbers start to decline," said Elina Fedotova, celebrity aesthetician and founder of Elina Organics Spas in Chicago and Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Due to the nature of their profession, aestheticians are constantly in close contact with clients, making social distancing virtually impossible, even with increased hygiene measures.
"We made the choice to close our spa on March 16 (one day before the mandated closures in San Francisco). In our industry, it really is impossible to keep a distance of 6 feet between us and our clients," said Athena Hewett, aesthetician and founder of skin care line Monastery.
Most spas are already closed at this point, but if your local spot is still open, celebrity aesthetician Candace Marino says you shouldn't feel nervous about canceling your appointment: "If someone has an appointment I encourage them to cancel it, even if their spa is still open. Facials can wait, health and safety should always be a top priority."
2. Try to keep up your regular routine
Social distancing has many of us ditching our regular hair and makeup routines as we settle into our new normal at home. It can be tempting to get a little lazy with your skin care routine, too, but aestheticians say consistency is really key.
"Continuing your normal regimen, morning and night, will keep your skin on track. When you stray from your products, you'll notice a dulled and dehydrated complexion, more congestion and a greater chance for breakouts," Marino said.
Keeping up with your normal routine can help your skin stay calm, clear and shielded from the elements. "Even indoor aggressors deprive skin of its vitality: dirty keyboards, artificial light, cooking evaporation, home cleaning and less oxygenation," celebrity aesthetician Brigitte Beasse said.
Even sunscreen is still a necessary part of your routine to help combat blue light from your devices and any sun rays that creep in through your window. As always, make sure you get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet, too.
"We nourish our skin not only topically, but also from the inside out. What we eat is very important. During stressful times, we are often prone to eat more comfort foods," Fedotova said. "Try to stay away from processed foods, cheese and heavy dairy products, which can congest our skin. People with acne-prone complexions have to avoid sugary and starchy foods."
3. At-home facials can be a nice distraction
It's going to be a while until spas open up again, but you can still give your skin a professional-quality treatment at home.
"I would encourage people to do an at-home facial at least once a week. It will help to decongest their pores, improve circulation, remove excess dead skin cells and support their skin with beneficial nutrients like vitamins, proteins, minerals and antioxidants," Fedotovasaid.
Want to simulate a spa experience at home? Try a relaxing facial with these steps:
- Cleanse your skin: If you're already wearing makeup, Marino suggests double or triple cleansing.
- Steam your skin: To help open up your pores, Fedotovasuggests using an at-home steamer or covering your head with a towel then placing your face over a pot of hot water with essential oils or herbal tea.
- Exfoliate: Try an enzyme scrub (sensitive skin types can try a less abrasive exfoliating mask) to slough off dead skin cells.
- Apply a mask: After washing off the scrub, clear skin of impurities with a mask focused on your current needs (acne, dryness, etc.).
- Massage skin: Wash off your mask and massage all around your face, focusing movement upward. "Spend as much time as you'd like on this step. Massage helps to deliver oxygen rich blood to the skin," Marino said.
- Tone skin: Press (don't rub) a touch of toner into the skin using cotton pads to hydrate and balance it out. "A good, hydrating toner will also be a carrier system to help with product penetration with your serums and creams," Marino said.
- Serum and moisturizer: Now that your pores are opened up, it's time to soak in some nutrients with a serum and moisturizer targeted to your skin's needs.
- Don't forget your lips and eyes: Add a moisturizing lip balm and hydrating eye cream to round out your facial.
4. Don't be surprised if your skin starts to break out
Acne has a way of popping up when we're stressed out, and that's not exactly a coincidence.
"Stress produces a chemical reaction in the body that can wreak havoc on the skin, causing sensitivity, reactivity and inflammation. During times of stress, cortisol is released, which can cause the skin to create more oil and sweat, leading to breakouts," Marino said.
If you're already dealing with a skin condition like eczema, psoriasis or rosacea, stressful times can often trigger flareups. "When cortisol levels rise, our immune system becomes weakened and that's when we see these conditions exacerbated," Marino said.
It's hard to avoid stress during these uncertain times, but there are a few ways you can avoid making breakouts worse:
- Please don't touch your face: "The priority is to ignore the breakouts by not touching any pimples to spread them or create acne scars," Beasse said. It's good advice for staying healthy, too.
- Fight back against breakouts: "Get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water, take probiotics, keep a steady, healthy diet and increase your intake of leafy greens," Hewett suggested.
- Keep skin moisturized: "When it comes to acne, most people automatically think to dry out the area, but overdrying can actually cause a worse condition because when stripping the skin of its oil, you're sending a signal to your brain that the skin is not protected; in turn, it will signal the skin to produce more sebum," Marino said.
5. You can always try a virtual consultation
Many beauty professionals are now offering virtual consultations to share their expertise with clients from afar. And while aestheticians can't perform extractions on your face through the computer, they can definitely help improve your skin care routine.
"During a virtual consult, we go over all aspects of someone's life: diet, lifestyle, the environment they live in, etc. Next, we talk about their skin concerns and the products they're using. From there, I'll create a customized skin care regimen for them and send them the products or tell them where to purchase them," Marino said.
In many cases, a virtual consultation with an aesthetician can help you figure out if you need to escalate your skin care woes to a dermatologist or if you just need to cease using a particular product.
"I have been answering skin care questions nonstop in email form. Just today, I was looking at images of a girl's skin. The pictures were super helpful. It became clear after talking to her and seeing a few images what her issues were," Hewett said.
6. This is a great time to send some love to your aesthetician
As spas close and pause on treatments, now is the perfect time to show your regular facialist some love. Purchasing gift cards and sending tips by cash apps are two easy ways to support them, for starters.
"Also, make sure you also purchase products through them, instead of buying through online competitors. Shopping small is so important, now more than ever," Marino said.
You might be tempted to book your next appointment now, but don't feel obligated to do so. "I have called all my clients, and the best reward is to help them refill their home regimen and guide them in their skin requests. Time will come for rescheduling. I don’t want to stress them with prebooking," Beasse said.
Like many Americans who are out of work right now, anyone working in the spa industry is eager to get back to work. But they're also taking this time to reflect until life returns to normal.
"This experience has taught me how important my physical presence is to help clients treat their skin issues. You cannot do this profession online only," Beasse said. "I am eager to go back to my daily life, but when I do, I will understand that less stress, less traffic, more family time, more human care will be my top priorities for a better and safer world."