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What Happens To Your Skin When You’re Stuck Indoors?


Winter weather, WFH forever, health concerns… it appears that spending way more time inside is becoming normal for many of us. Some good things have come with the change (slippers over stilettos is great for the feet!), but internally, our bodies are reacting to these changes in many different ways. Complaints of insomnia have become common, and our skin is feeling the lack of regular exposure to the sun, the wind, and the outdoors.

What do air conditioning and heat do to skin?

“Lack of natural light, and being outdoors can cause hormonal fluctuations, weight gain amongst other health issues,” cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green explains. But what exactly does all of this indoor time do to our skin? “Staying indoors with air conditioning or heat can strip the skin of its natural moisture and disrupt the pH balance.” But that doesn’t mean we should all be sweating bullets in the dead of summer. Air conditioning does take moisture from the air and can make skin feel dry, but can also be essential for anyone with eczema, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, or those who have acne. “An air conditioned environment reduces flares and makes them more comfortable, as the skin does not itch, or gets less irritated, if cool. For acne-prone patients, they will suffer from less breakouts as they perspire less, reducing the sebum buildup,” Dr. Green says. If you’re in an environment where the AC is blasting all the time, moisture is going to be your BFF. Staying heavily hydrated and adding moisture-rich products like BUTTER DRENCH Restorative Rich Cream to your routine can change everything.

Is being indoors bad for your skin?

Being inside can cause some concern though, primarily the long-term effects that cabin fever can have on the skin. The biggest change is the amount of Vitamin D our bodies are exposed to. “The skin needs a minimum of 15 minutes per day of sun exposure for the body to maintain healthy vitamin D levels,” Dr. Green explained. “The amount of vitamin D needed depends on your sun exposure and the amount of vitamin D in foods you consume. You can become deficient if your diet is lacking in nutrients that can convert to vitamin D and if you have no sun exposure.” If you don’t have space (or time) to walk for 15 minutes a day, foods like fish, mushrooms and egg yolks are a great way to incorporate vitamin D into your diet. Oh, and just because it’s a quick stroll doesn’t mean you can forget the SPF!

Oh, and if you’re worried about your skin being dried out due to constant air conditioning and heat? A humidifier might be worth the investment.

Stress-induced breakouts? They’re real.

If your skin’s increased freak-outs can be traced back to say, early 2020, you may blame the indoors, but the source may actually be why you’re indoors. “Tensions are high these days with everything going on, and stress can cause a spike in cortisol. When you’re stressed out, your body releases cortisol. This spike can cause your body to overproduce oil, which can then result in breakouts,” celebrity esthetician Shani Darden says. Dr. Green expanded on that point, explaining that “stress causes the body to produce hormones such as cortisol, adrenal androgens, neuropeptides and cytokines which trigger and inflame the sebaceous glands. These hormones can cause increased inflammation and histamine release which causes an increase in sebum production and causing acne.”

Want your best skin? Use your time wisely.

There IS a silver lining here. Luckily, the best time to develop and commit to a dedicated skincare routine is … when you’ve got time indoors. Start by cleansing the skin daily with a mild formula like PURENESS Gel Cleanser, which is designed for sensitive skin and has soothing ingredients like coconut water and coconut milk, to wash away sebum build up, bacteria and dirt.

After cleansing, apply a toner to open up your pores, which will allow all of your subsequent products to be fully absorbed by your skin. “For sensitive skin, select a toner with chamomile [or] green tea that is alcohol-free. If you are acne prone, toners with alpha hydroxy, salicylic or glycolic acid are best,” Dr. Green recommends. Next up are your serums, where Dr. Green recommends products that are lightweight and packed with antioxidants, peptides and retinol. If your skin is too sensitive for traditional retinol, a phyto-retinol formulation can get you the same results, without the irritation.

Darden recommends using a treatment serum in between facials to keep skin glowing and youthful. She suggests alternating a retinoid with a targeted acne treatment, plus a chemical exfoliant like PORELESS Exfoliating Essence, which is like a gentle, fruit acid micropeel, to help remove dead skin on the surface, clear out congestion in your pores, and leave overall glowing skin.

You should finish up your entire skincare routine by wearing a lightweight moisturizer to replenish and hydrate your skin cells as well as protect the skin barrier, like PURENESS Soothing Light Face Moisturizer.

Do you need to wear sunscreen indoors?

Uh, yes. Darden explains: “You should wear sunscreen every single day, even when it’s cloudy and rainy. UV rays can pass through your windows and through clouds, so you have to always keep your skin protected. Many of the things that people complain about, like brown spots, wrinkled skin and loss of elasticity, can all be prolonged by wearing sunscreen. UV rays will zap the collagen from your skin and lead to pigmentation that takes decades to come to the surface. Always wearing sunscreen will help to keep your skin looking youthful and healthy.” Incorporating a tinted moisturizer like COMPLEXION RESCUE Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 will not only protect your skin while your indoors, but make people on your Zoom calls think you put in far more effort than you really did…

What’s all this screen time doing to my skin?

So you’ve swapped in-person for even more on-screen time. You’re probably wondering about the impact that increased screen use and exposure to blue light is having on your skin. The verdict is still out on the long-term effects, but studies have suggested that blue light from devices can generate free radicals and cause pigmentation in darker skin tones. Darden recommends using a vitamin C serum in the morning along with a mineral sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater. COMPLEXION RESCUE DEFENSE Radiant Protective Veil will do the trick — and adds cacao extract to help protect against blue light damage.*

Being inside all the time doesn’t have to be a bad thing — using your time to commit deeply to taking care of yourself is always a thing to be celebrate. It can be stressful on the mind and body to be indoors all the time, so take walks! Go outside! And when you are inside, you don’t have to let time just pass. Whether it’s focusing on your skin or your day-to-day activities, start to build a routine you love. After all, being inside doesn’t have feel like you’re trapped.

*Based on ingredient in-vitro data.