beauty

From surprise acne to itchy dermatitis: A diary of my skin during lockdown.

Boy oh boy, 2020 has been a crazy year. If you’re in Melbourne/Victoria, you know what I mean. Since March, we’ve had consecutive lockdowns. Fun!

Watch: Here's how to colour your hair at home. Post continues below.   


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Along with the waves of emotional and psychological turbulence that come with self-isolation, I've experienced some major highs and lows when it comes to my skin and overall health and wellbeing.

To walk you through my experience (and to help anyone who might be going through the same thing) I threw it all together in a skin diary - including everything that happened and how I fixed it.

Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

Stage 1

Hello, stress-induced dry lips. I mean, I’ve always struggled with dry lips and I do have a tendency of biting my lips when I’m anxious, but this was next-level. 

My lips were dry, cracked, sore and bleeding. What's worse, none of my usual lip balms made a dent.

Image: Supplied 

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I tried everything. The only thing that seemed to work was the good ol' Elizabeth Arden 8-Hour Cream - it's a cult favourite for good reason!

But it doesn't stop there. Along with my extremely dry and cracked lips, I developed two styes on the same eye over the course of a week. 

Searching for some answers, I turned to Google. I tried the old wives' tale of rubbing a gold ring on the stye, hoping it would work its magic so I could avoid a trip to the pharmacy. 

But no luck. It didn’t work. 

So, off I went to the pharmacy and picked up some Chlorsig ointment (which is used to treat eye infections). This worked a treat on the stye(s).

Stage 2

As I'm sure you can relate, excessive handwashing has just become a normal part of my day. And this has wreaked some serious havoc on my skin.

Not only did the regular handwashing cause my hands to be quite dry and sore, but during stage two lockdown I also developed an itchy, red rash on my wrists. This was most likely caused by water being trapped under my watch strap - which was then rubbing and irritating my skin underneath. 

In an attempt to clear up said rash, I switched it up and wore my watch on my other wrist. 

I then ended up with dermatitis on BOTH wrists. 

It was itchy, red, inflamed and raw from scratching.

Image: Supplied 

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So, off came the watch (along with bras and makeup). 

I was becoming a regular at the local pharmacy.

By this point, I pretty much gave up on life. I lived in my PJs and trackies. My hair was an absolute mess because I stopped brushing it. I also gave up on maintaining my brows - cause who's going to see them, anyway?!

I ordered a lot of takeout and had completely stopped exercising. There was an occasional day drinking session thrown in there, too. Along with tears, anxiety, frustration and self-pity.

The cure to all these feels? Retail therapy. My late-night online shopping habit was truly in full motion - it was one way to take my mind off the gloomy realities that surrounded me. 

Stage 3

A few weeks into stage four lockdown and my scalp was dry, itchy and flaky. I couldn’t stop scratching it. And it must have been a common lockdown ailment, because scalp treatments were super hard to find. 

I was looking and feeling like crap. See below:

Image: Supplied 

After much searching, I finally got my hands on the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Happi Scalp Scrub, $58. It took a few applications for me to see and feel the difference, but it worked nonetheless.

Now for my skin. To give you a bit of a background, it has always been pretty good, and it was admittedly okay during the first couple of stages. So, coming into stage three lockdown, I didn't feel like there would be any major issues. 

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However, a few weeks in my skin (like my scalp) decided it wasn't having a bar. Out of nowhere, big, deep, inflamed acne appeared on my cheeks.

I tried my best not to squeeze them. But after a whole lot of pimple patches, I just had to do it. The pimples were staring at me and mocking me every time I looked in the mirror.

Listen to Mamamia's podcast for your face, You Beauty, where we talk about all things popping pimples. Post continues below. 

I did it the proper way, though! I used a warm compress to draw them out and squeezed the zits with clean hands. Pop! It was SO satisfying. 

To avoid scarring, I loaded my skin with the Alpha-H Hyaluronic 8 Super Serum, $69.95, Revolution Skincare 15% Niacinamide Super Serum, $20 and the occasional Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum, $195.

A slight reprieve in between stage three and four lockdowns offered some relief on the haircare front. I was lucky enough to get a much-needed haircut (I got about three inches chopped off), along with a remedial massage. 

I wasn’t lucky enough to get a facial.

Stage 4

After months of bad diet and lack of exercise, something in me changed. I wanted a healthier lifestyle. 

So, I started incorporating at-home yoga and pilates into my routine. Yoga with Adriene (you can find it on YouTube) is a favourite. I also started to eat healthier meals (bye, takeout!). 

I focused on looking after my skin and ditched my daily makeup routine with a seven-step skincare regime, and my acne has also settled down.

Here's the skincare routine I followe in the AM:

- First cleanse: 100% Pure Blood Orange Cleansing Balm, $20.

- Second cleanse: Cerave Hydrating Cleanser, $10.39.

- Mist: Kora Organics Balancing Rose Mist, $42 or the Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence Rx, $48.99.

- Serums (in order of application): Elizabeth Arden Vitamin C Ceramide Capsules Radiance Renewal Serum, $150, Alpha-H Hyaluronic 8 Super Serum, $69.95 and the Revolution Skincare 15% Niacinamide Super Serum, $20.

- Moisturiser: Dermaceutic K Ceutic Post Treatment Cream, $120.

- Sunscreen: Invisible Zinc 50+ Face and Body, $12.99.

And here's the skincare routine I followed in the PM:

- First cleanse, second cleanse and mist, same as my morning routing.

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- Serums (in order of application): Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum, $195 (Iused this three times a week), Alpha-H Hyaluronic 8 Super Serum, $69,95, or the Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Probio Ampoule, $79.90 (on days that I need some extra hydration)

- Moisturiser: Skinceuticals Renew Overnight Oily-Combination, $113 or Skin Physics Dragon’s Blood Ultra Plumping Night Cream, $59.95 (depending on how my skin feels).

The new normal

Sure, my brows have probably been better and my greys are definitely more noticeable, but at least my skin is looking and feeling great!

And with the case numbers in Victoria falling, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. While it’s going to be a long road out of the pandemic, the past six months have been a rollercoaster in self-discovery - from the depths of despair to renewed hope. 

Right now, I’m doing my best to treat myself how I’d treat a friend… being kind and giving myself a break. I've finally placed importance on looking after my health and wellbeing, and my skin. 

Image: Supplied 

To boost my mood, I even played with some makeup a few days in a row. To my surprise, my skin looked like a dream. 

Not bad for a Gen-X! 

All is not lost.  

Feature image: Supplied

Did your skin freak out during lockdown? Share your experience with us in the comment section below.

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