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It may be the least of our COVID problems, but there's no denying that 2020 has wreaked havoc on our skin! Today, I wanted to share some of the ingredients and products I suggest for counteracting these issues. I've tried to keep everything pretty affordable, whilst still focusing on the best products to treat the problems in question, as I understand that many people experiencing these issues may not have a ton of disposable income but need stuff that works. Of course, there are recommended barriers in the medical industry to prevent PPE rubbing on the skin and causing damage, so I'm really focusing on the repair. If you're one of the absolute stars on the front line; these are things to look at using when you're off rotation (as opposed to under your PPE) and looking for skin recovery. Though, of course, if these things don't help or you're in severe discomfort; I really recommend seeking out a dermatologist's advice. Without further ado...
Let's talk about dry hands! To be honest I've always had very dry skin and I've always been an over-washer, so it's an ongoing issue for me. It's really difficult to get the balance right between a formula that doesn't need re-applying literally every time you wash your hands but that also isn't greasy, however I think I have some products that hit that sweet spot.
First up, I have the the everyday favourite: the Nursem Caring Hand Cream* | £9.99 (get 10% off with JASMINETALKS10 (not affiliate)). This is such a great product because it provides lasting moisture, wash after wash, whilst totally absorbing with no excess or greasiness. It's formulated with a blend of fruit and plant oils which seal moisture in. I love that this is both practical and functional but smells nice and comes in cute packaging, all for an affordable price. Overnight I reach for the Seams Hand & Nail Oil* | £22. This is also easily-absorbed and has a dry-touch finish. It really packs in the nourishment and helps dry hands and cuticles recover after a long day with lots of hand-washing!
Skin irritation is also a problem for many at the moment, with masks and PPE rubbing against the skin, making it, red, inflamed and sensitised. Therefore, I really recommend gentle, fragrance-free, barrier-building ingredients like low-concentration niacinamide, ceramides and squalane.
As a targeted treatment, the Nursem Caring Skin Fix* | £14.99 (get 10% off with JASMINETALKS10 (not affiliate)). This cream is for the face, but you can also use it on other parts of the body if needed. It has a dry-touch finish so you don't need to worry about excess or the skin feeling greasy or smothered. This is formulated with colloidal oat to soothe the skin, avocado oil and shea butter to nourish and glycerin to attract water, then panthenol to retain it. This makes is a great all-round skin-soother. There's also a bit of salicylic acid to help with breakouts and blemish scarring. Simply apply this to irritated areas of skin as and when needed to calm things down. As more of an everyday night cream, I really recommend the Skingredients Good Skin Fats | £39. This cream is formulated with ceramides, niacinamide, Vitamin E, oat and shea butter. Basically, all the good stuff! This is definitely a little richer than something like the Nursem cream, but personally that's exactly what I want from a replenishing night cream. This provides deep nourishment and strengthens the skin overnight - it's on the pricer end of this post but I have to say: I'm a big fan!
CeraVe is one of the best brands out there for sensitive or otherwise compromised skin and recently they launched the CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser* | £12.50. It comes out as a sort of creamy lotion that foams upon contact with water; just be sure not to over-apply it. It's formulated with ceramides, amino acids and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and strengthen the skin. Plus, it's a fragrance-free formula. This is one of those products I can reach for when my skin is acting up and I know that it will gently do the job without causing me any problems.
Finally, for this category, I really recommend squalane. This is a skin-similar, plant-derived oil that's safe for sensitive skin and amazing for replenishing what your skin has lost. I always have a bottle of the Ordinary's 100% Plant-Derived Hemi-Squalane | £2.75 | on the go, whether it's to use as a scalp treatment or on dry, irritated skin. I really enjoy this formula because it's not at all greasy and pretty much water-light, so you can even use a couple of drops during the daytime.
Breakouts & 'Maskne'
One of my favourite cleansers when I'm breaking out is the REN ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser* | £24. This product is about the only 'anti-blemish' cleanser my skin can tolerate, being typically dehydrated (it does contain some fragrance, however, so might not be for you if that causes your skin problems). It's a non-foaming, non-stripping clay-based cleanser with kaolin and willow bark (from which salicylic acid is derived, which we'll discuss later; this is generally considered to be a little gentler than the real thing). It helps keep my skin clean and clear when it's having a bit of a freak-out.
A fantastic product for spot-prone skin, as well as to help with strengthening the skin barrier is the Ordinary's Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum | £5. This is more of an everyday maintenance product than something that's going to immediately clear up a bad breakout, but over time you should notice your skin feels less oily, red and irritated. This pairs really nicely with the Murad Clarifying Oil-Free Water Gel* | £39. This is formulated with hyaluronic acid to pull in water and salicylic acid, a deep-pore exfoliator that's amazing is small quantities to clear up the skin and to prevent blemishes from scarring the skin. I love this product because it's lightweight and breathable but still gives my skin the hydration it craves. This is the other slightly more expensive product in this post; you can usually get a good discount on Look Fantastic or Neutrogena do a similar gel moisturiser that's oil-free and, although it doesn't contain salicylic, it still has the hyaluronic acid.
Finally, for skincare products, we have the big guns! I must be on about my 5th tube of this stuff because I always have the Super Facialist Salicylic Acid Blemish Clay Mask* | £10 | on my shelf. This is a clay mask you pop on for 10 minutes and it not only gives me brighter, smoother skin, but if I use it in the evening then by the following morning any angry spots with either be totally gone or considerably smaller and less red and irritated.
My last little tip is to keep your mask as breathable as possible, whilst of course still being safe. Many people who experience 'maskne' find this improves if they switch to a cotton mask - I like using the Kitsch Cotton Face Mask Sets | £10 for 3 | or, if you can splash out, the Big Silk's Face Mask* | £14 | is one of the most comfortable I've found so far. My only negative is that it needs hand-washing, which makes it a bit of a faff given they should only really be worn once to prevent bacteria build-up (which, besides the obvious, also causes breakouts). Whilst it's a bit pricey to be an everyday option for me, I keep this for times when I'm spending an extended time in a mask, such as when I travelled over summer. It's also adjustable and more fitted, so you can get the best coverage possible.
Have you been suffering with your skin this year? What are your top tips in terms of products and ingredients to combat these issues?