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Breakouts, stress acne, and clogged skin: The causes and remedies behind tricky complexion occurrences

Breakouts, stress acne, and clogged skin: The causes and remedies behind tricky complexion occurrences

Under your skin

Text: Emily Heng


Logically, a controlled environment, consistent routine, and makeup-free days would translate to happy, thriving skin. And yet, some of us are experiencing the opposite of such joys that come with WFH, whereupon it is zits, clogs, and breakouts galore on our mien. It's ironic alright, and deeply unfair. Sure, you could put it down to bad luck or pin it to period pains, but as firm believers of mastering our own destiny, we'll be taking a more proactive approach. Namely, looking at the recent changes — and upheavals — in our lives to pinpoint the source of our complexion complications. Our findings, below.

Your skin is reacting because... you've been wearing a face mask for long hours.

The cause: It's only been a day since Singapore declared it compulsory to don a mask when leaving the house, but let's not forget that some of us have been wearing it frequently since the outbreak started. Medical staff, frontline workers, and F&B operators sport theirs for hours on end alongside those who are sick. Beneficial as it might be to our health and hygiene, it does create a moist, hot environment for skin which could lead to rashes, chafing, as well as a buildup of sweat and oil that — ya guessed it —leads to breakouts down the road.

The fix: To start, wash your face before and after wearing a mask. Another tip: swap out gentle, milky face washes for anything containing salicylic acid. These offerings grant a more thorough cleanse all while removing excess oil and dead cells with ease. This, thus, prevents potential flareups, zits, and clogged pores.

Your skin is reacting because... you're foregoing SPF.

The cause: Skipping a few steps of your skincare routine is forgivable in these trying times. Dropping SPF, however, is not. Long story short, those pesky UVB rays can still penetrate through windows to give your skin a good scorching. And let's not forget blue light either — with everything being relegated online, your exposure to this skin-ageing blight is ramped up, too. Is it any wonder, then, that your skin is conducting a revolt?

The fix: It doesn't get any simpler than this: Put. On. SPF. Oh, and a blue-light fighting primer or moisturiser, if you can help it.

Your skin is reacting because... you've altered your diet.

The cause: We get it. With a fully-stocked kitchen just five steps away, a bathroom break can quickly turn into a snack sesh that you wash down with yet another mug of coffee. Whether you're chugging back sugary sweet beverages (see: the infamous dalgona) or just being increasingly lax with your once-healthy diet, its effects are bound to show up on your skin in the form of cystic acne, volcanic craters (aka monstrous-sized pimples), and inflamed skin.

The fix: Print the above image and stick it to all surfaces in your kitchen (jk). Or keep it by your desk, at the very least. I, beauty writer Emily Heng, find that this tiny reminder is instrumental in keeping my voracious snacking habits in check.

Your skin is reacting because... you haven't been changing your sheets as much.

The cause: Call it complacency, or perhaps just a misguided line of thought where you assume that staying in means you're not tracking dirt all over your sanctuary as you once did. Therefore, you can get away with changing your sheets once every two weeks, right? Yeah, nope. Unfortunately, this just means your mien is just soaking up all that leftover oil, grease, and makeup debris from the last time you donned a full face for your Zoom conference. Eep.

The fix: Please, for the love of God, change your sheets! Particularly your pillowcase if you want to preserve your precious moneymaker.

Your skin is reacting because... you're seriously stressed out

The cause: It's normal to feel anxious and discomfited considering how COVID-19 is disrupting our regular routines, limiting our social interactions, and essentially, uh, leaving us feeling lonely and isolated. Regrettably, that can manifest as zits, lesions, comedones, and the like. Studies show that stress even exacerbates current skin conditions, so if you're already suffering from acne, it makes sense that it'll only get worse.

The fix: Engage in meditation, self-care, or anything that gets you feeling centered and calm. As important as it is to stay informed, refrain from checking news sites or tracking pandemic ongoings if it causes feelings of unease.

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