Beauty

My Life Has Never Been Worse, But My Skin Has Never Looked Better

Times are rough, people! And frankly, so is my skin. Ever since the world stopped and stay-at-home orders were enforced, my face has been hit with stress-induced breakouts. At first, I tried to think positively. At least my skin will get better. Sadly, this ended up not being true. On a good day, my skin is pretty much the same as it was pre-pandemic. What gives?

I quickly learned quarantine skin is not the same for everyone. As ELLE.com moved team meetings onto Zoom, I noticed some of my coworkers’ skin looking no-filter flawless. During one of our first meetings, Deputy Editor Jessica Roy noted her skin has “never looked better.” I stared at her screen in envy.

Roy isn’t the only one experiencing better skin. After surveying some friends on Instagram, many have found their skin is actually clearing up during this stressful time. According to dermatologist and skincare brand PFRANKMD founder Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, it’s all thanks to the things we aren’t doing.

“Some of the routines we have been relieved of are actually improving things when it comes to our skin,” he explains. “Just like the lack of cars on the road is improving air quality, so is the lack of makeup, nail lacquers and overuse of cosmetic products, giving our skin, hair, and nails time to relax.”

So how do I get my whacked-out skin back on track? “The best way to heal a bruise on the arm is to stop punching it,” he advises. “And we are seeing the same thing with skincare now, which attests to my less is always more, and rule of KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Go back to the basics. Your essential pro-aging regimen is straightforward: Clean, protect, hydrate.”

Intrigued and—let’s face it, really jealous—I tried to glean some knowledge from my #blessed friends on how to achieve beautiful quarantine skin.

Ahead, their thoughts, and tips on living their best acne-free lives during a pandemic.

Jess

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About a month into quarantine, when I’d adjusted to our new reality somewhat and stopped hitting the wine so hard, I noticed I started to look glowy without even having to use the Instagram Smooth Skin filter. Not wearing makeup every day definitely helps. I also have a tendency to sit with my chin in my hand when I’m on my computer at work, and then I get zits on my jawline. I don’t have that habit at home so I’ve avoided the jawline acne.

Gabrielle

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I started seeing a change a week into the stay at home order. I’m a teacher in Maryland and my school closed on March 13th. The following day, I was back in New York with my family. I remember looking at myself in the mirror one night and going, “Damn, look at that T-Zone!” I couldn’t believe how much my skin had cleared up. I think the biggest factor has been sleep and stress levels. During that first week, I got so much sleep it felt criminal. I was getting about 12 hours a day. Even now that I’m teaching online, I still get much more sleep working from home.

I ate more regular meals, did some light exercise, and started going on walks. I wasn’t constantly running between tasks or pushing myself to stay up late so that I could finish making another worksheet. One habit I did change was what I drank—I started drinking more water and tea, and fewer sodas and juices. I didn’t particularly want to go to the grocery store unless it was absolutely necessary, so I made do with what was in the house.

Rose

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In late March, I decided to self-isolate with my family in Texas. I packed one suitcase and drove from New York City to Austin (26 very long hours!), where I’m from. While relocating was ultimately the right decision for me, it didn’t do my skin any favors. I broke out like crazy, mostly on my cheeks. But after a few weeks of living at home, my stress levels returned to normal and the mess on my face started to clear up.

My skin is looking good. Like, maybe the best it ever has in my adult life. I have a few theories as to why. I find the #wfh life to be very relaxing (No commuting! No dressing up!). Plus, I’m drinking less and eating better thanks to my mom’s cooking (shoutout to her amazing kale salad).

Leaving my apartment turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I forgot to pack all of my usual toners and serums. So instead I’ve gone back to a fundamental skincare routine using just two products.

Nerisha

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Once it finally registered in my brain that I would be working from home indefinitely, my skin went haywire. I’m sure it was stress coupled with poor eating habits, but after the first few weeks or so, a cluster of breakouts began to form around my chin and cheek area. I booked a few virtual beauty consultations to get tips from estheticians on how to calm my acne-prone, combination skin. I noticed a change in my skin’s texture and overall appearance back in April, about two weeks after using the new products faithfully. Dark spots started fading, my skin felt softer, and fresh breakouts left as quickly as they appeared.

I won’t lie and say I’ve completely cut out fried foods from my diet, but I eat them less frequently now. Instead of using a bunch of random products on my skin, my new regimen is a simple, four-step process with powerful ingredients like retinol, salicylic acid, ferulic acid, and vitamin C to help reverse years of damage. Increasing my water intake seems to be working as well, thanks to this motivational water bottle I recently bought on Amazon. The “just drink water” section of skincare Twitter might’ve made some points.

Shivani

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I started to see a real change in my skin from about mid-April to now. My skin is looking amazing compared to pre-quarantine, especially because I’m not drinking or socially smoking as much anymore and going out to eat as often. I really started prioritizing SPF in my morning routine and drinking a lot more water.

During the day, I use Glossier’s Milky Jelly cleanser in the mornings and Dickinson’s Witch Hazel Toner for prepping my skin. I moisturize with Aveeno Clear Complexion SPF 30 and Murad Hydro-Dynamic Eye Cream.

At night, I use my Curology specially formulated 3-step routine with cleanser, moisturizer, and medicated face cream. But before applying the cream and moisturizer, I use Glossier’s Solution and it has helped even out tone and texture in my skin dramatically!

Jeanette

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I started to notice a significant change in my skin after the first week of shelter-in-place. Since the lockdown, I’ve stopped wearing makeup and stopped eating out. Instead, I’m exercising more, staying hydrated, and eating healthier. Since I have to make a conscious effort not to touch my face, I’ve stopped picking at blemishes. And most importantly, I’ve been able to catch up on sleep!

Cindy

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My office mandated work from home in the first week of March. I started to see a big change in my skin recently, so two months later. It’s less dry and irritated and the dark circles under my eyes seem less pronounced.

I used to commute into Manhattan every day. I worked long hours and would come home late. I think a few key things came into play for better skin. First, exercise: I’m able to ride my Peloton every day and recently hit my century ride! I think an exercise routine definitely helped me from the inside out. Second, eating dinner earlier: I no longer eat dinner standing up at 9 PM. I actually eat around 5:30 PM with my daughters. Lastly, time: Now that I’m not commuting, I have so much more time to treat myself to self care. I do more sheet masks and spend a little extra time at night with my skincare routine.

Kelly

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I started to see a change in my skin about two weeks after I stopped going into the office and generally going out in public. Not wearing makeup everyday has helped a lot. I had to put makeup on a few days in a row recently, and a breakout immediately started to bubble up. When I have to wear makeup for the rogue work video call, I just wear a tinted moisturizer instead of a heavy foundation as my base. I also have a lot more time to focus on my morning and nighttime skincare routines, since I’m not rushed for anything!

My favorites are Dermalogica microfoliant and I love their sleep cocoon mask at night. The scent is even calming and I think helps put me to sleep. I’m also a big fan of First Aid Beauty Radiance Pads, my skin feels so clean after using them. I have been really diligent about using The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid and Hyaluronic Acid too.

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