Have you seen the memes? "If I have to cocoon now, I may as well come out a butterfly."
It's true. This time of isolation is a great period in which to renew. That may mean cleaning out the closets, picking up a new hobby, or doing some soul searching about what truly matters to you. Personally, I've had very little time for doing any of those things. With the addition of homeschooling to my regular schedule, it's been very hard to feel that this period in our collective experience is the gift of unexpected time that many are representing it to be.
But, it actually *is* a great time to renew your skin. Here's why:
My guess is that you're spending much more time indoors than usual. As a result, your skin is in the sun a lot less, as well. This makes it a prime time to go on a bit of overdrive treating your skin with surface renewal treatments. Since they also make the skin more prone to damage from the sun, there's no better time to use them than when you're seeing less of the sun. You see? Every cloud does have a silver lining.
Now is a great time to refine your daily routine with an evening renewal treatment.
If surface renewal is your goal, the most impactful change you can make is to use an evening serum that promotes exfoliation and cellular turnover. Below are some of my favorite ingredients for getting the job done. Choose one, or a couple, to feature in your own evening skincare. To incorporate two of these key ingredient categories, I recommend choosing one of either the enzymes or the AHAs and one of either the vitamin A or retinol. If you need help selecting the right product/s for your skin, email me.
Pumpkin and Papaya Enzymes: I absolutely adore enzymatic exfoliation of the skin. It is appropriate for so many skin conditions, even extremely sensitized skin. But don't let the gentleness fool you: these enzymes are still working hard for you. Moonlight Catalyst by Kypris is a beautifully formulated example of enzymatic overnight renewal. I love the delicate neroli fragrance and light texture. Mix a couple of drops with a couple of drops of a facial oil like a Kypris Beauty Elixir to customize your nighttime serum.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids: These acids are well known for their ability to reduce the appearance of discoloration on the skin's surface. I especially like to see them combined with vitamin C. This duo is an exceptional blend for brightening and evening out your complexion. Indie Lee has formulated a great combo in the Radiance Renewal Peel. (If you use this, let me give you the gentle reminder that these should be swiped on lightly versus used to scrub the skin, as we tend to want to do when given a wipe...)
Vitamin A: We can use topical vitamin A in the form of 1) whole ingredients that are naturally high in vitamin A or 2) vitamin A derivatives (one of which is retinol, see below). Both approaches are extremely effective in surface renewal, including remedying fine lines. For those who want to be exceptionally close to the plant, I love the Barbary Fig Renewal Serum from La Bella Figura, featuring vitamin-A-rich guava seed oil. If you're open to products using lab-derived, nature-based compounds, check out the Vitamin A Serum from Mad Hippie, which leverages HPR (hydroxypinacolone retinoate), a relatively new bioavailable form of vitamin A that's very effective without being irritating.
Retinol: Retinol is the gold-standard in cellular renewal. I've generally avoided it in my curation of products because it is also a gold-standard in skin irritation. That's why I was so excited when Maya Chia launched The Straight A, a truly gentle retinol that I have yet to see cause skin aggravation for a client. The retinol is in an encapsulated delivery system that minimizes irritation. Throw in some moth bean extract and bukuchiol -- two botanical retinol alternatives -- and you have a transformative evening cocktail for your skin.
Get big results by boosting your weekly masking treatments to two or three times per week.
From knowing our clients for years, I've learned that masks are not always at the top of your list. Who has the time?! But, if you aren't an at-home-masker usually, this is a fantastic time to begin more at-home care for your skin. Netflix and Chill *and* Mask, anyone?
If you've been masking once a week, consider upping it to twice per week or even every other night. (If you're over-masking, I promise your skin will let you know. Listen to your skin and respond.)
A couple of my favorite options for surface renewal:
Glow Philtre from Kypris is a delicate jelly-like mask, scented with my favorite neroli, that employs pomegranate pith enzymes to refresh surface texture and complexion. This product was a signature of our esthetic treatments in New York, and left hundreds of clients glowing.
The Refresh Mint from Maya Chia combines azelaic, lactic and salicylic acids with pumpkin and pineapple enzymes to deliver a potent surface refresher that will reveal brighter, more even-toned skin. It is, indeed, minty and refreshing.
Strategies to avoid irritation, whether or not you have sensitive skin.
If at any point your skin seems to be red, irritated, or developing dry or rough patches, you may be going at this whole cocoon thing a little too aggressively.
Here are some ways to avoid irritation on your path to butterfly:
- A little goes a long way. Don't feel that you need to slather on your serums. A couple of drops will do. If two drops doesn't seem to be going far enough, extend the serum by applying to skin that you've misted with toner or essence (or even just left damp after cleansing).
- When starting a new renewal serum, start with every other night, and then increase from there, depending on your skin.
- If you're choosing to use two key ingredients (like AHA plus retinol), use them on alternate evenings.
- If you're masking, consider adding a hydrating mask (such as Josh Rosebrook Advanced Hydration Mask) after your resurfacing mask.
- After masking, consider using an antioxidant serum, rather than a renewal serum for that evening only.
- Be sure you're using sun protection during the day. Even if you're 100% inside right now. (See below for more on why.)
Just because you're spending more time inside doesn't mean you don't need sun protection.
My guess is that you're spending plenty of time in front of a screen, probably even more than usual. What, with remote learning, video conferences, checking the news, and movie nights with the kids, screens are extremely hard to minimize right now. And the blue light that they emit is known to stress and damage skin.
A broad spectrum SPF will reduce your skin's exposure to damaging sunlight *and* screen-emitted blue light. So make it a regular part of your morning routine, no matter your plans for the day.
Protect the results of your overnight renewal with a daytime cocktail of antioxidants + SPF.
For the most complete protection for your renwed skin, layer a cocktail of antioxidants under a zinc-oxide-based, broad-spectrum SPF for your morning skincare. Especially helpful antioxidants are vitamins C and E and coenzyme Q10. If you're sensitive to vitamin C (which you'd know if it turns your skin red!), consider a serum like the La Bella Figura Vitamin D + Ergothioneine Deep Serum, which protects and repairs skin with other actives.
Last but never least: support your external efforts by feeding your skin from the inside, too.
To support your skin renewal from the inside, amp up your intake of brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Many of us are concerned about how to get groceries and to prepare food safely right now, so this may feel scary or difficult. One way I've been addressing my concerns is to increase the proportion of cooked vegetables to raw and favoring peelable fruits. Another way is to use frozen fruit or vegetables. And, of course, to wash your hands at least 1 million times during each food prep session.
The most powerful food for skin and spirit right now, in my mind, is veggie-rich soups and stews. I've been known to eat soup three meals a day when I'm in particular need of nourishment! Don't knock it 'til you try it.
This is my kind of renewal: results I can see, little effort.
In all, these are some pretty straightforward steps to support your cocooning phase. 1) Targeted serum for the evening. 2) Masking at least weekly. 3) Eat your fruits and veggies.
If you need help customizing your picks or assessing what's already in your cabinet, send me an email so I can guide you.
Do you feel like you have more or less time than you had before isolation? If less, what's become more important? If more, how are you using the time? Is self-care on your isolation to-do list?