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Why Your Skin Is Breaking Out During Quarantine

And how to fix it.
PHOTO: istockphoto

For those of us lucky enough to be able to work from home during the coronavirus outbreak, you've probably already binge-watched a lot of K-dramas and eaten all your emergency snacks.

A common theme from this quarantine period seems to be breakouts.

Yep, despite the fact that we're all going makeup-free and avoiding the pollution from our daily commutes, our skin seems to be more unhappy than ever.

To find out why so many of us are struggling with spots during this time, I asked clinical aesthetician and co-founder of Mortar and Milk, Pamela Marshall for some much-needed help.


"There are so many factors involved," explains Pamela. "However, the main culprits will come down to stress, diet, lack of vitamin D, and hygiene."

"When our body is stressed, it releases cortisol which is our fight or flight hormone. When cortisol is high, estrogen production is lowered. As our estrogen decreases, our androgen (male sex hormone) is in abundance and it will send messages to the sebaceous glands to produce more oil." Never a good sign, if you ask me.

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"Our pores don't like an abundance of anything," says Pamela. "Therefore they will swell and inflame, creating a spot."

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Understandably stress is playing it's part right now (thanks a lot for that), but Pamela also points out that eating junk food may not be helping matters either.

"Succumbing to junk food may feel good in the short term but will wreak havoc on our gut, which will, in turn, wreak havoc on our skin," she tells me.


But wait, there are two more things to blame here, one being a lack of vitamin D as we spend our days inside.

"Vitamin D is important for cell development, so not being able to be outdoors will increase our deficiency," says Pamela. Vitamin D also has an important role in helping reduce inflammation in the skin which as we learned earlier, helps prevent breakouts.

Lastly, while you may feel like you've never been so clean, it's understandable that our skincare routine and habits have slipped during this godforsaken time.

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To use what will inevitably be the word of the year, these are "unprecedented" times and coping with the stress we're experiencing isn't simple, as Pamela explains.

"It's really easy to say to someone, 'practice mindfulness' or 'don't stress', but putting those words into action is much more difficult. The best way I manage my stress is making sure I eat a healthy diet. This at least reminds me that I'm doing something good for my body."

To help keep your cortisol somewhat in check, do whatever you need to do and be kind to yourself. We've got a whole host of things you can do whilst staying in from podcasts, to batch cooking, to help take your mind off things. Not to mention the things that will help reduce your COVID-19 anxiety.

In terms of diet, Pamela recommends eating a "nutrient-rich" diet as much as possible. Foods like fatty fish, cheese, eggs, and mushrooms are high in vitamin D, so it will help combat the loss you're experiencing from being in lockdown.

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However, we're all aware of the current food shortages, so the next best thing is a vitamin D supplement.

In terms of skin hygiene, Pamela recommends washing your bed sheets on a weekly basis (especially as you're probably spending a lot more time in there). If you can't do that, at least wash your pillowcases once a week.

Finally, keep up your skincare routine: cleansing, exfoliating, hydrating and not forgetting SPF for your daily sunny walk. Remember, even if you're not wearing makeup at this time, your face still gathers sweat, sebum, and dirt buildup throughout the day.

So, remember to be gentle with both yourself and your skin.

Follow Laura on Instagram.


This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.