The Solution to
“Quarantine Skin”

Is isolation giving you breakouts? Here’s what to do.

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator

Leonardo DiCaprio, practicing peak self-isolation as Howard Hughes in The Aviator.

How’s your skin doing in isolation? Has it been acting up: dry one day, irritated and red the next, with the occasional pimple popping up here and there? If that sounds familiar, just know that you might be social distancing but you're not alone. I'm with you. And a quick search on social media will reveal plenty of the same gripes.

But why? To get some answers, we rang up dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research, Department of Dermatology at New York's Mt. Sinai Hospital. He said that the reaction is somewhat normal—anything that disrupts your life in such a big way can throw your skin out of balance.

"We know that stress can have a negative impact on the skin, and social isolation because of the contagious virus is certainly stressful," he says. "Our bodies respond by boosting levels of a hormone called CRH. This increases cortisol levels to prepare our bodies for the stressful environment, but it also stimulates oil production leading to acne breakouts."

The fact that many of us aren't getting proper sleep (again, due to anxiety) and a quarantine diet of extra snacks and alcohol all contribute to shocking our system. The end result is a ruddy, angry complexion. Thankfully the fix is fairly simple and is probably good life advice in general: simplify things. Herewith, doctor's orders.

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Aveeno Foaming Clear Complexion Cleanser

Foaming Clear
Complexion cleanser,
$6.79 by Aveeno

Cleanse

Dr. Zeichner suggests swapping out your regular facial cleanser for one that contains salicylic acid. He often recommends Aveeno Clear Complexion—a gentle, yet effective foaming cleanser that contains 2% salicylic acid. "This beta hydroxy acid removes excess oil and dead cells from the surface of the skin to keep the pores clear," he says. He also says to give the cleanser time to work—just like with washing your hands. "Sing the alphabet before rinsing the suds off your face."

Aveeno Foaming Clear Complexion Cleanser

Foaming Clear Complexion cleanser,
$6.79 by Aveeno

Neutrogena On-The-Spot Acne Treatment

On-The-Spot Acne treatment,
$5.39 by Neutrogena

Treat

For any pimples that may have popped up, dab them with a benzoyl peroxide spot treatment. "This ingredient lowers levels of acne causing bacteria to reduce inflammation and dry out the pimple," says Dr. Zeichner. But less is actually more in this case. "For example Neutrogena's spot treatment contains 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, which is as effective at treating angry pimples as products with higher concentrations but is associated with less potential skin irritation." A word of warning though: Let the cream fully dry on the skin because if it touches dark fabrics, it will bleach them.

Neutrogena On-The-Spot Acne Treatment

On-The-Spot Acne treatment,
$5.39 by Neutrogena

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream

Ultra Repair cream,
$14 by First Aid Beauty

Hydrate

When your skin is irritated, the doctor says it's important to hydrate and protect the skin barrier. Otherwise, you'll end up with more inflammation. Even if you're breaking out, keeping your skin moisturized will actually help heal blemishes faster. Make sure you're drinking plenty of water and look for a gentle cream or facial lotion without fragrances or harsh chemicals. First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair cream has become a go-to because it's rich yet light and absorbs into skin quickly while relieving irritation and redness. Use it in the morning and before bed.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream

Ultra Repair cream,
$14 by First Aid Beauty

NOTE: Items featured in this story are independently selected by the editorial team. Purchasing via our links may earn Valet. a portion of the sale, which helps fund our editorial mission.

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