So far 2020 has been a year of living with less of everything, except time. And strange new words. Social distancing, iso-baking, corona-cation, quarantunes, lockdown drinks, covid-cooking have gone viral. Another new term to creep into our collective vocabulary is "iso-skin".
It refers to the clogged pores, breakouts, inflammation and irritation that can result from spending too much time indoors or being more stationary than usual.
Despite going for days sans makeup and being able to wear sheet masks between Zoom meetings, not everyone’s skin is loving the new normal. Below, seven simple ways to get your skin back on track...
Move Your Body
Your skin is your body’s largest organ and also one of your main elimination pathways. Daily movement gets your lymphatic system flowing which aids detoxification. Exercise also increases blood flow throughout your body including your skin, delivering oxygen and nutrients to your cells. Studies have also shown regular exercise can increase the health and diversity of your gut microbiome. But perhaps best of all, working out rewards you with endorphins, neurochemicals that make you feel happier and more relaxed. In turn, feeling less stressed can help soothe skin conditions such as inflammation, acne and eczema. It doesn’t matter what you do: ride, walk, dance, stretch, skate or swim. Just aim for 30-45 minutes of low-medium intensity exercise daily. And don’t forget, doing it outdoors will boost your vitamin D levels which also helps support immunity.
Boost Your Circulation
Apart from exercise, there are other ways to increase blood and oxygen flow to your skin. Regular dry body brushing working from your toes up to your head—always brush in the direction of your heart—will get your blood and lymph fluid moving. Cold showers are good circulation boosters, too. Start by ending a warm shower with a short blast of cold water, then to try to lengthen the time you spend in the cold each day. Facial massage can have an immediate plumping effect on your skin—after cleansing, apply a little more of your favourite serum or facial oil than usual and take your time massaging it in completely until your skin is flushed and plump-looking. Gua sha tools, cups and dermal rollers are ways to self-administer the firm, glow-enhancing massage you usually get from a facial. Splashing your face with cold water or keeping your massage tools in the fridge or freezer also helps de-puff and boost blood flow.
Dehydrated skin can look tight, dry and flaky or fine-lined. But some hydration-enhancing know-how can help you get your glow back. Research has shown sipping slowly helps us absorb more of the water we drink. We love adding HYDRATION Inner Beauty Boost, a delicious, bio-fermented elixir formulated to help replenish lacklustre skin from the inside out. Aim to drink 2-3 litres of clean filtered H2O daily. Pay attention to your intake of caffeinated drinks and alcohol (such as those quarantinis), which have a diuretic effect on your cells.
Snack on naturally hydrating foods like cucumber, lettuce, celery and green capsicum. Brew a big pot of herbal tea in the morning and sip slowly all day. If internal heating or air-conditioning are making the air inside your home dry, consider using a humidifier. Long hot showers and baths have a dehydrating effect on your skin, too. Avoid harsh soaps and cleansers which can strip oils from the surface of your skin. And while hand sanitisers containing alcohol are a necessity during the pandemic, try to limit their use to those times when you can’t wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water instead.
Love Your Gut
You may have heard of the gut-brain axis. But your gut is also in constant conversation with your skin via the lesser-known gut-skin axis. That means your gut health has a direct impact on the condition of your skin: if your gut is out of balance, irritated or inflamed then your skin is one of the first places to show symptoms. Healing your skin begins by fixing your gut health. And to that it helps to treat your gut like a garden. Weed out foods that cause irritation or discomfort—a qualified health professional can help you with this but common irritants include dairy, gluten and FODMAPs.
Instead, feed your gut nutrient-dense wholefoods—you can find plenty of inspiration and recipes in The Beauty Chef Cookbook and The Gut Guide. Plant foods that are high in non-digestible fibre are resistant to digestion in your stomach and intestines but they are metabolised by the beneficial bacteria in your colon.
Finally, seed your gut microbiome by eating plenty of probiotic-rich fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, cultured milk, unpasteurised miso, tempeh, kefir and beet kvass that contain many different species and strains of beneficial bacteria. Now is a good time to remind you about GLOW Inner Beauty Essential, a bio-fermented probiotic powder made from over 18 Certified Organic wholefoods, vitamin C and zinc to nourish your gut and promote resilient, luminous skin.
Stress Less, Sleep More
Feeling worried or overwhelmed floods your bloodstream with the stress hormone cortisol. Occasional short bursts of cortisol can be beneficial to help you deal with challenges. But ongoing, chronic stress can alter the balance of gut bacteria, damage the gut lining and suppress your immune system. Cortisol also wreaks havoc on your skin by breaking down collagen. Plus, it can exacerbate skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, acne and rosacea. There are many daily habits you can do to lower stress levels: deep, slow belly breathing calms the nervous system. Humming, singing and conversation with those we love work too. Try introducing a brief daily meditation to your day and gradually lengthen your practice. Walking in nature, spending more time offline and laughter all help.
Deep restorative sleep also helps us feel better able to cope with daily challenges. It’s when our body rejuvenates and repairs on a cellular level and releases anti-ageing hormones like human growth hormone and melatonin, so it’s important to take your sleep hygiene and bedtime routine seriously. Our team swears by SLEEP Inner Beauty Support, a bio-fermented, skin-loving powder with lemon balm and passionflower, traditionally used in Western herbal medicine for a restful night’s sleep and to relieve symptoms of mild anxiety.
Eat Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are an essential ingredient in your skin care routine. You just need to eat the right ones in the right ratios. Omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids are both essential. But most of us eat way more omega 6s than we should (at a ratio of 16:1) mainly because of the high amounts of vegetable oils in processed foods. It’s recommended we eat four omega 6 to one omega 3 and some health experts recommend a ratio of 1:1. We get our omega 3s from oily fish, nuts, seeds, eggs, vegetables and grass-fed meats. We need anti-inflammatory omega-3s because they increase beneficial gut bacteria and promote microbial diversity. OMEGA ELIXIR contains a healthy ratio of plant-based omega 3, 6, 7 and 9 oils from black cumin seed, chia seed and sea buckthorn fruit, plus evening primrose oil to relieve dryness, irritation and reduce inflammation.
Make a Mask
Aside from Zoom meetings and Google hangs, WFH is a chance to secretly slather your skin with the goodness it doesn’t get when you are working with others. Order some non-toxic, nourishing sheet masks or mix your own treatments to feed the beneficial bacteria on the surface of your skin. Try plain natural yoghurt or manuka or raw honey to nourish dry skin . Or brighten a lacklustre complexion with mashed papaya and a squeeze of lime juice. Get creative in the kitchen and embrace the skin-loving possibilities of life in captivity.