7 Skin Experts Share Their At-Home Skincare Tips
At this point, you’ve no doubt mastered your handwashing and moisturizing routine and have learned the ins and outs of working from home and/or social distancing during this outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). So, isn’t it time your at-home skincare routine got a little attention?
“Giving ourselves guilt-free permission for proper skincare and ongoing skin treatments is a great benefit,” says medical aesthetician Candace Marino (a.k.a. The LA Facialist) of our increased time at home. If you’re used to making regular visits to your aesthetician or dermatologist’s office, social distancing may mean your skin is not getting its routine TLC. But, not to worry, there is plenty you can do to keep your complexion clear and bright using products in your own vanity.
While many dermatologists and plastic surgeons are offering virtual consultations to advise on cosmetic concerns during this time, we’ve also assembled a panel of seven top skincare experts to share their at-home skincare wisdom:
- Shani Darden, aesthetician and founder of Shani Darden Skin Care
- Cheryl Karcher, MD, board certified dermatologist and co-founder of Center Aesthetic & Dermatology in New York City
- Candace Marino, a.k.a. The LA Facialist
- Melanie Palm, MD, board certified dermatologist and founder of Art of Skin MD in San Diego, CA
- Morgan Rabach, MD, board certified dermatologist and co-founder of LM Medical in New York City
- Renée Rouleau, aesthetician and founder of Renée Rouleau Skincare
- Amy Spizuoco, DO, board certified dermatologist, dermatopathologist, and founder of True Dermatology in New York City
Just in case you need another reminder, the handwashing rules apply to skincare as well. “Before you start your skincare routine, it is extremely important that you wash your hands thoroughly for 20 to 30 seconds before touching your face in order to minimize exposure to coronavirus,” Dr. Palm shares.
With clean hands in tow, keep scrolling for six ways to improve your skincare routine!
1. Maintain Your Skincare Routine
Just because you may be skipping makeup (more on that below), doesn’t mean you should be forgoing your skincare routine. In fact, there is no better time to add an extra step (or five) to your regimen. And, yes, sunscreen is still a good idea — even if you are inside all day.
Candace Marino: “The key to keeping your skin on point during this break from our regular routines is to be consistent with your regimen. In the morning, be sure you're still applying your antioxidant serums that help to prevent damage from free radicals and environmental factors like pollution and UV rays. Even though most of us are staying inside, SPF is still a good idea. You are still getting UV rays through the windows, and a good SPF will help protect you from the damaging rays from blue light (TV, computer, phone) and indoor lighting. At night, ensure you're still cleansing properly — even if you haven't worn makeup or left the house. The skin produces oils throughout the day that can get trapped in the pores and cause breakouts. Be sure to remove this before applying your nighttime skincare.”
Dr. Spizuoco: “Being stuck in your apartment — likely with radiator heat — will dry out skin, so stick with your regular skincare routine but add a moisturizer with vitamin c and hyaluronic acid to help keep the skin healthy. Continuing with your normal routine should also include washing regularly (i.e. twice daily).”
Dr. Palm: “Rather than experimenting with unknown masks or yet-to-be-tried chemical peels, which have a much higher chance of causing skin irritation or a contact allergy, consider your cleansing routine and how you can amend it to allow skin to breathe and absorb other skincare products more readily.”
Dr. Karcher: “Patients with acne can use some form of salicylic acid, along with gentle cleansing and a retinol at night, while anti-aging routines may include specific products like antioxidants in the morning and a retinol at night. Gentile facial masks and massage help increase circulation and exercise is also great for the skin.”
2. Try a DIY Facial
While you can’t fully replicate a professional skincare treatment at home, there are plenty of over-the-counter products that deliver brightening, clarifying, and rejuvenating effects. As with most things in life, practice makes perfect, so creating and maintaining a routine that works for you and your skin concerns is key to seeing both immediate and long-term results.
Renée Rouleau: “The idea is to go above and beyond your everyday skincare routine by giving it professional results with the extras. People shy away from using their retinoids because they don’t want to be out in public with their skin being dry and peeling. Well, this is the perfect time to do more advanced treatments due to not being in the public eye. This is also a great time to do an at-home facial and use some products that you may not normally have the time to do. This includes exfoliating peels like my Triple Berry Smoothing Peel and masks.”
Shani Darden: “I recommend doing a quick at home facial once or twice a week to brighten the skin. Start with a gentle cleanser like my Cleansing Serum to thoroughly cleanse the skin without stripping it. Next up is to exfoliate. I love the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads because they contain AHAs and BHAs to effectively remove the layer of dead skin on the surface and clear out congestion in your pores. After exfoliating, use a Garnier SkinActive Sheet Mask to deeply hydrate the skin. Follow up with a hyaluronic acid serum like Dr. Nigma’s Serum No 1 to plump up the skin with hydration and finish with a great moisturizer for your skin type. My Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer is a great option for those with normal to oily skin and the Garnier Water Rose 24 Hour Moisture Cream is great for those with dry skin.”
Dr. Rabach: “I recommend exfoliating a few times a week, using pore strips, at home masks, and doing facial massages with rollers. I would do regular masks at least once a week that target your skin type (a salicylic acid mask, for example, if you have oily skin, or a hyaluronic acid mask if you have dry skin). It’s also a good time to try a new product that you think may make your skin sensitive. Being at home gives you time to recover!”
Candace Marino: “Now is a great time to add things into your skincare routine that you've maybe been hesitant about trying — like a retinol because it’s known to cause redness, dryness, and sensitivity during the retinization phase. Or maybe you've been struggling with melasma or stubborn post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) from acne and haven't yet tried a hydroquinone because your lifestyle finds you getting lots of sun exposure. Take advantage of this downtime by using anything that may cause a little irritation while you adjust. Making a DIY hydration mask or a sheet mask weekly will keep skin soft and supple.”
3. Skip Makeup
Ever heard of the idea of letting your skin ‘breathe’? Well, there is something to be said for giving your complexion a break from daily makeup application. Skipping foundation for even a couple days a week can improve the tone and texture of the skin.
Shani Darden: “This is a great time to really see what works for your skin and what doesn’t. When you aren’t wearing makeup, you can better examine what’s working well for your skin. Some foundations can cause congestion, so you might find that your skin is more clear and balanced while not wearing makeup daily.”
Renée Rouleau: “It is well known that primers and liquid foundations — especially in oily, acne-prone skin types — can lead to bumps and breakouts. They can cause what are known as ‘closed comedones’ which often need to be extracted out by a professional. The silver lining for the skin when self quarantining is that you’re giving your skin a break from potential pore cloggers. However, it’s important to note that foundations, even if they don’t say they have an SPF in it, contain natural SPF ingredients like titanium dioxide. A benefit of makeup is that it will offer UV protection from damaging rays that come through windows in your home or apartment. This means that you’ll want to be extra diligent about wearing your daily sunscreen to keep your skin protected, since foundation isn’t giving an extra layer of protection.”
Candace Marino: “Skipping makeup is great for all skin types and allows the skin to take a break from the daily application and removal of unnecessary products. Certain types of makeup can be heavy and occlusive, which can slow down the skin's natural exfoliation process and speed up things like oil production. Both lead to clogged pores and congestion. Giving the skin a break will likely result in less congested pores and breakouts and will also allow for more radiant, hydrated skin.”
Dr. Palm: “Layers of makeup are more likely to clog pores and hair follicles; therefore, less makeup may mean clearer skin and less apparent comedones or blackheads. One important note: Some makeups — especially mineral-based ones — supply excellent sun protection with anti-inflammatory properties. If this is the makeup you use, make sure you are still using a tinted sunscreen or physical sunblock even if inside. UV, high energy visible light, infrared light, and blue light exist even indoors, and your skin should be protected.”
4. Consider an At-Home Device
Similar to over-the-counter topical skincare, at-home beauty tools don’t boast the same strength as their professional counterparts. But, that’s not to say that they don’t add value. From lifting and firming microcurrent to bacteria-busting LED light therapy, there is a device for just about every skin concern.
Dr. Palm: “Sometimes, although we love at-home devices, we forget about them and they fall out of habit. Now is the time at home to recharge your skincare devices and put them to use. My favorite at home device is the Clarisonic Mia Smart. The device can be connected wirelessly to your smartphone so that personalized routines are developed. A variety of treatment heads are available to clean skin more thoroughly than washing alone, exfoliate winter dead skin cells, depuff the eye area, and even to blend makeup for an airbrushed finish.”
Shani Darden: “This is the perfect time to try a device! The NuFace Trinity Pro is a great at-home microcurrent device to tone, tighten, and lift the skin. Used consistently, it can really help to keep the skin in a more lifted position. I’ve also been using my Deesse Pro LED Mask daily. It’s an amazing treatment to boost collagen in the skin, minimize fine lines and wrinkles, and boost circulation to give you an amazing glow. Blue LED light can also kill acne causing bacteria to reduce existing breakouts and prevent new ones from forming. It’s a very calming, relaxing treatment right now while tensions are high!
Dr. Karcher: “LED lights have been shown to help decrease inflammation, and there are a few on the market now. Clarisonic is also a nice addition for cleansing the skin as long as the skin is not sensitive.”
Candace Marino: “At home facial devices like LED, microcurrent, ice rollers, and gua sha are great at-home additions to help with product absorption, circulation, and oxygenation, as well as skin health and healing. I am also a huge proponent of facial massage, which you can do yourself.”
5. Don’t Touch Your Face
Before the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth to thwart the spread of COVID-19, aestheticians and dermatologists have been extolling the virtues of keeping your hands away from your face for ages. Not only will it help keep you healthy, but it will likely save you from getting a pimple, too.
Candace Marino: “Facialists have been preaching this since the beginning of time! When you touch your face you're literally transferring germs from every single thing you've touched directly onto your skin. Keeping your hands off your face prevents the spread of bacteria that can lead to inflammation, irritation, or other reactions. A best preventative practice is also to always wash your hands thoroughly first before cleansing your face at night or applying product.”
Renée Rouleau: “It is always best practice for the face to not be unnecessarily touching it and introducing germs. Bacteria leads to breakouts and may exacerbate them from touching your face. This is why cleansing the skin thoroughly at night is always recommended — even in non-virus times. Keeping your hands off your face allows the skin to be cleaner, which will only reduce potential issues.”
Shani Darden: “Touching your face exposes your skin to bacteria that can then turn into congestion and breakouts. It’s really important to limit touching your face at all times for this reason. I always keep alcohol wipes on hand so that I can regularly wipe down my phone and sunglasses for this same reason.”
6. Keep Stress Levels In Check
Skin health isn’t just a reflection of what you are putting on the skin. Hormonal imbalances, diet, and, yes, stress can all reveal themselves on the skin, so learning how to manage anxiety will benefit more than just your mental health.
Dr. Spizuoco: “We know stress can cause acne, eczema, psoriasis, alopecia, and many other skin conditions to flare. Stress pulls our immune system in a direction away from it's normal function to suppress any skin conditions we are prone to. Here are my tips to counteract stress all the time, but now more than ever:
- Take a Breath: A moment of focused breathing can lower heart rate and normalize blood pressure.
- Take a Walk: Even just around your apartment building. Visit a floor you've neer been on.
- FaceTime a Friend: Connect or reconnect from a distance.
- Do a Home Workout: Many gyms have closed but are offering online classes. Even if your apartment is small, make some space to do some chair exercises.
- Smile: Studies show smiling alone releases serotonin in the brain, which stimulates happiness.”
Dr. Rabach: “Stress causes cortisol to surge in the body, which affects other hormone levels. Hormone level fluctuations cause acne breakouts. Also cortisol increases sebum production leading to acne. Try to relax, drink water and FaceTime with family and friends — it cuts down cell phone acne! Wear your hair up with fewer dry shampoos and products that can cause clogged pores. Do yoga and meditation or cook something ambitious you wouldn’t have time for. Take a bath. Catchup on your reading and movie lists.”
Candace Marino: “The skin is our largest organ and can show stress in many ways, such as acne and pigmentation, as well as eczema and psoriasis flare ups. In times of stress, hormones are released to alert us to take action, but not being able to manage stress can take a toll on our skin. When cortisol levels rise, our immune system becomes weakened and that's when we see exacerbation of these conditions. For general stress-related skincare and basic inflammation we may all experience during this time, I love a good ice roller. Look for calming products with ingredients such as chamomile, calendula, buckthorn, and aloe vera. And, to calm the senses, breathe. Always remember to breathe.”