There’s a perfect storm going on that’s playing havoc with our complexions – and its far more than just skin deep.

2020 was a year like no other and the stress, anxiety and unhealthy habits we have slowly adopted have the potential to take their toll both physically and mentally – in many cases leading to breakouts, acne, dry skin and eczema flare ups.

Here is why I believe that your skin might be feeling sluggish, irritated and dull right now – and why paying more attention to your physical and mental health could help you achieve a healthier and nourished complexion in 2021.

#1 Winter weather

Cold weather, biting winds, central heating and a lack of natural sunlight and vitamin D can all be contributing conditions for problem skin. Dryness, skin flare ups, redness and irritation – all of these things are exacerbated in the winter months and the inability to get outside during lockdowns. My mantra is and always has been – moisturise, moisturise, moisturise and over the winter I ramp this up even further. Your skin needs some extra TLC right now. It needs to be nourished, protected and pampered with the hardest working ingredients, such as natural butters and omega 3 and 6, which will soothe and strengthen your skin’s defences. Look out for products which contain a prebiotic, which can also provide some vital support in the winter.

#2 Stresses brought on by the pandemic

Many people underestimate the role that stress and anxiety can play in amplifying common skin complaints. You may not know this but when we are stressed our body produces the hormone cortisol, which can impact on our physical health – affecting the immune system, causing insomnia, impacting our appetite and knocking our general approach to wellbeing. 

Ultimately when we are feeling anxious or stressed we often turn to negative coping mechanisms such as junk food, alcohol and hours mindlessly scrolling on social media – rather than doing things that could have a positive impact on our mental health (such as healthy eating, exercise, and reaching out to friends). Over the years I have learnt to manage stress in my life with plenty of time spent outdoors in nature, journaling, meditation and dosing up on sleep. The key really is to focus on whatever works for you – whether that be a socially distanced walk in the park with a friend, dancing round your bedroom or a relaxing bath.

I’m also a huge lover of crystals and how crystal extracts in skincare could benefit to the mind, body and soul. Smithsonite and Rhodochrosite extracts are secret stress-busting and self-loving tools to give you and your skin that extra helping hand. Long understood as the stone for tranquillity, Smithsonite is used to help create serenity and calm. Rich in Zinc, it is thought to be a powerful healing stone, particularly important for calming and soothing in times of stress. Beautifully pink in colour, Rhodochrosite is associated with the rose, a symbol of love. Used through history to help emotional healing, encourage self-love and compassion.

#3 Wearing face masks

Although extremely important, face masks can create a hot, humid environment around the skin which leads to sweat, oil and bacteria build ups – not good for anyone with skin conditions or prone to flare ups. First and foremost, good mask hygiene is incredibly important – make sure that you are washing your mask after every wear and consider investing in one which is designed especially for people with sensitive skin. For example, breathable fabrics such as silk can help to reduce irritation. When you can, use a sensitive skin wash for your hands.

#4 Eating the wrong things (and drinking too much) in Lockdown

Numerous surveys show that lockdowns and the winter months increase our propensity to ‘over-indulge’ – but it’s important to be mindful, even when we’re feeling out of routine.  What we eat and drink plays a huge role in how our skin looks and feels and a few weeks of over-indulgence can really take its toll. Your skin will thank you for a little bit of balance. Eating a Mediterranean diet is the best way to nourish your skin from within, so if you’re in need of a reboot then think about upping the amount of green vegetables, oily fish, lean chicken, pulses and good fats that you are eating.

For more information visit The Beauty of Eczema website.