Regular readers will have no doubt seen our recent article on the havoc face masks have been causing to wearers skin. This along with general stress, lack of sleep and poor diet, has meant that patients around the country are now flocking to dermatologists to ask how to reverse it.
Here’s what top dermatologists hear in their consultations, and the solutions they’re now offering up to patients.
According to the dermatologists, hyperpigmentation from blue light is causing havoc with our skin. And if you’ve noticed a worsening of existing melasma or new hyperpigmentation creep up, it’s likely due to the double screens you have up in your home office.
‘High Energy Visible Light or ‘blue light’ refers to the higher frequency, shorter wavelengths of light in the violet-blue band in the visible spectrum,’ explains Dr Rekha Tailor.
So unlike UV light, it can be seen, and it’s omitted from things like your television and mobile phone screen.
And with most of the country now working from home, using laptops and screens in order to conduct what would normally be face-to-face meetings, the time we spend in front of a screen every day is higher than ever.
But how does it damage the skin?
Research has shown that HEV light influences skin conditions and can cause the skin to age prematurely. Whilst UV light penetrates the outer layers of the skin, HEV light penetrates the lower layers (the dermis). ‘Although HEV light isn’t associated with skin cancer or sunburn, it is associated with ageing and can also induce hyperpigmentation and may contribute to conditions such as age spots and sun spots,’ adds Dr Tailor.
What’s more, all skin types are susceptible. ‘Many people believe that dark skin is not susceptible to sun damage; however, although dark skin tones are less likely to burn, people of every skin tone can get sunburnt or sun-damaged skin. Equally HEV light is just as damaging to skin of any colour. So it’s not just fair-skinned people who need to protect against it.’
In this digital age, it’s inevitable that people are spending a lot of time in front of their phones, laptops and whilst we are all stuck at home in lockdown this will be more than ever. But what can we do about it?
‘Try limiting your time in front of the screen by an hour or so a day,’ suggests Dr Tailor. ‘By applying a high factor SPF, we can protect our skin against the harmful HEV rays. I personally recommend the ZO Skin Health broad-spectrum SPF, which is lightweight and doesn’t clog pores. For those who can’t be without their makeup choose a mineral SPF makeup such as Glo.’
Breakouts and Acne Flare-ups
According to Harley Street Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Ophelia Veraitch, ‘maskne’ is one of the most prevalent concerns post-lockdown. ‘Increased occlusion and pressure points from the masks we’re wearing all day is manifesting as acne flare-ups’, explains Dr Veraitch.
‘Part of the problem is that you’re physically covering the skin and creating a warm, moist environment that is leading to increased skin congestion and acne,’ she adds. Aside from this increased friction, this “maskne” can very well be due to the saliva and nasal secretions likely be living on your mask if you haven’t washed it in a while.
Thankfully there are many things that can be done to treat acne, and whilst it’s not usually caused by simply diet and lifestyle alone, these factors can also affect the skin dramatically.
‘Eating a healthy balanced diet and drinking lots of water can have a significant impact, as can cutting out alcohol, caffeine and sugar,’ says Dr Veraitch.
‘The key to treating acne at home is controlling the oil production and effectively removing dead skin,’ explains Dr Veraitch. ‘Ensuring you have a skincare range that is oil-free and avoiding serums is essential as the oil in those products will only exacerbate acne. Look for cleansers which are non-foaming as these will stimulate oil production and ensure that your makeup is non-comedogenic as this will allow your skin to breathe and will help prevent your pores becoming blocked.’
‘If your symptoms are impacting your life, it is important to set up a consultant with your dermatologist who will be able to prescribe a suitable treatment plan.’
But there are also a number of things that you can do at home to treat it including:
- Cleansing twice a day
- Using topical retinoids on the skin – these work by removing the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin and improving turnover to help prevent them building up in hair follicles. (It is important to see a specialist to prescribe the right medical skincare regimen for your individual needs. Please note these are not suitable for use during pregnancy).
- Getting antibiotic cream or tablets prescribed by your doctor –Topical Benzoyl Peroxide is an antibiotic that reduces the bacteria on the skin. It also helps to reduce inflammation.
Dull Tired Skin
Along with blemishes, most of us may notice our complexion looks duller/slightly grey compared to usual. That glow we promised to ourselves at the start of lockdown is ebbing away, and we’re suddenly left looking at skin that has lost its lustre.
‘This could be that we’re not wearing makeup and skipping our evening skincare routine,’ says Dr Acharya. ‘It’s important to remember that even without makeup, our skin still produces oil and sweat that should be cleansed away. A lack of vitamin D and, again, stress could also contribute to a duller complexion.’
The answer to persistent dryness and a lack of glow is to exfoliate, says cosmetic doctor, Dr Paris Acharya. “The first step in your skincare regimen should be to cleanse your face with an appropriate cleanser for your skin type; I recommend double cleansing to ensure a truly effective clean. For ingredients to properly absorb into your skin as you continue on with your regimen, you need to ensure that your skin is free of oil and dirt.
Spending just ten minutes in total on cleansing your face will help reduce oily build-up and acne break outs. This is particularly important at this time of year when people are applying sun lotion and spending more time outside exposed to external factors such as pollution, pollen and dust.
“Next apply a toner to help replenish any water your skin barrier lost when you washed and dried your face. This step also provides additional cleansing, shrinks pores and helps balance your skin’s pH. After cleansing, gently sweep your toner over your clean, dry skin.
“Serums should then be the next step within your regimen. Serums are essentially extremely concentrated nutrients, hydrators, and antioxidants. Applying a vitamin C serum such as PCA Skin’s C&E Advanced in the morning will help to remove the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, minimise pigmentation and diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.’
According to Dr Acharya, retinol is of huge importance when it comes to giving us our glow back. ‘Retinols exfoliate the skin by increasing cellular turnover and help to stimulate collagen production, revealing healthy fresh skin underneath,’ she says. ‘They also reduce pigmentation, fight free radicals and thicken the deeper layers of the skin, reducing wrinkle formation.’
And even more important than retinol? SPF. “In the morning, follow your serum with a broad-spectrum SPF 50 with broad-spectrum protection even when the sun isn’t out. It helps protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays but also from the damaging rays emitted from your computer and phone screens. This will help to reduce premature ageing and sunspots.
For effortless protection and a gorgeous primer feel I recommend Weightless SPF from PCA Skin. It is perfect for all skin types, including oily skin and sits beautifully under makeup.”
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