Grooming

The Coronavirus Lockdown Is Ruining Your Skin. Here's How To Fix It

Get the big guy glow-up in the big bad lockdown.
IMAGE A.R. Tanner
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I am a sedentary man. I prefer not to move very much. Which is a real gift right now, given that going outside would contribute towards the fall of man. But just as my waistline doesn't much like these extended episodes of sloth (hello there gut, I've been expecting you old friend), nor does my skin. Once a reasonably clear, rosy complexion – I have few strengths and I'm keen to tout them, OK – it is now a pallid jacket potato with a sad face drawn on it, ravaged by a lack of Vitamin D, and my parents' propensity for ExxonMobil-levels of climate-changing central heating.

Of course, my grooming routine has always been of the bare minimum: bit of moisturizer here, the odd eye cream there. The new appetite for social distancing, however, has meant we need to get up close and personal, to really dig into our pores and give them the nourishment they're so lacking in these testing times.

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Redrawing a nice healthy balanced diet is the hard part, though. Grooming (and beauty), an industry known for its Magna Carta of doublespeak, isn't so easy to decipher. Some stuff is good: propylene glycol is a substance that attracts H20. But drone-assisted skincare technology? Hokum. And yes, that did, unfortunately, exist once upon a time.

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Dr. Sam's Flawless Cleanser, drsambunting.com

Photo by DR. SAM'S.
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Instead, it's about spotting active ingredients, says Bridget March, digital beauty director at Harper's Bazaar. "Vitamin C is an antioxidant which helps prevent damage, and it brightens and evens-out the skin tone. Vitamin A is the most potent anti-ager (often found in skincare as retinol), and hyaluronic acid is considered a hero hydrator, for its ability to draw in water and hold it into the skin." These are all things we're not getting enough of, especially during the pandemic.

What's more, the newfound deficiency means you need to update (as opposed to increasing) your bathroom cabinet. "Don't think that more is more. Jump into using multiple active ingredients at once with a measured approach, introducing things gradually, and building up your tolerance," says March. "And bear in mind that to see the effects of most skincare, you'll need a month, given that it takes that long for skin cells to turnover."

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The tool above all others though, is a good cleanser: the sort that purifies your skin of the toxins that still linger in the warm, cozy confines of your new gilded cage. "There's no point applying decent skincare onto dirty skin," says March. "I recommend the Dr. Sam Bunting Flawless cleanser, which is colorless and odorless, and doesn't dry or strip the skin." Your face has very few good things in at the moment. Don't opt for a cheap cleanser that'll leach even more.

"Ironically, you'll still need your SPF when staying at home, too," says March. "This is because daylight equals UV light, which may not burn your skin while you're sitting by the window, but it will cause premature aging." The fix? Heliocore 360° Fluid Cream SPF 50+: a strong morning daily, and something that can protect against the purported damage of blue light too, says March.

Heath Moisturiser, selfridges.com

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Photo by SELFRIDGES.

At the day's end, a moisturizer containing glycerin is recommended to protect the skin's barrier, with retinol (that lovely anti-ager we mentioned earlier) best-applied before you lock the moisture in.

And finally, March can't stress the importance of a weekly exfoliant enough. "There are two main options: a scrub (but remember that harsher doesn't mean better), and an acid. A good old flannel when removing your cleanser can help exfoliate the face well."

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All of which, when used in tandem, can glean better skin as our lives recalibrate. For while you suffer a face that's slowly transforming into the surface of Mercury, aim for the stars kiddo! Or at least a better cleanser, moisturizer, and exfoliator. It requires little effort. And who knows: you might just land on a glowing new moonface.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Murray Clark
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