Self Care in Self Quarantine: Skincare Tips From Local Pros

Just like our social lives, our skin may be looking a bit dull right now. Many of you skincare fanatics depend on regular facials to keep a clear, soft complexion, but as our favorite Twin Cities spas have shut their doors, it’s time for us to delve into a little DIY to keep the pores in good shape while in quarantine. Plus, we could all use a little pampering right now, whether to you that means an epsom salt bubble bath or a K-Beauty sheet mask.

I’ve enlisted a few local experts—The Skin Sisters (Brooke and Lauren Sundick), freelance makeup artist and beauty expert Fatima Olive, and the estheticians at Woodhouse Day Spa—to answer some burning beauty questions. Take notes and off you glow.

1. These times are tough—even on our skin. What are your tips for helping stress acne/skin problems?

Fatima Olive: I know most people are looking for product recommendations, but my philosophy is simple. First of all: manage the stress. Stress can contribute to skin problems, break outs, flare ups of different skin condition. Why? Because when we are stressed our bodies respond chemically (fight or flight response!) and the body produces adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenalin for “flight” and Cortisol increases sugar in the bloodstream to sustain the flight or prepare for the fight. If there isn’t an increase in physical activity to resolve the increased in chemicals they end up wreaking havoc on our skin. All this to say, the best thing you can do for your skin right now is to exercise and sweat and do anything you can to keep stress in check. Tip: Check out Modo Yoga Minneapolis’ online classes. Oh, and don’t forget to hydrate!

The Skin Sisters: Although difficult, limiting stress can help your skin right now. Take a walk (with sunscreen!) or find a few minutes to do some yoga—your skin will thank you. Staying hydrated is also important to general skin health, so drink plenty of water and don’t overdo it with coffee refills while working from home. For acne-prone skin, we recommend the daily use of a cleanser with benzoyl peroxide, an acne-fighting ingredient that decreases bacteria and helps clean out clogged pores. We really like the new CeraVe Acne Cream Cleanser—gentle, effective, and easy to find at any drugstore.

For those painful “monster zits,” our secret trick is to mix an over-the-counter cortisone cream with benzoyl peroxide cream (like Clean & Clear Persa-gel) and apply as a spot treatment (not all over!) overnight. You should only do this for a night or two, but it can be helpful.

The Woodhouse Day Spa: The most important things to remember to help stress/acne are: 1) Keep your face clean. Wash twice a day to remove impurities, dead skin cells and extra oil from your skin’s surface. 2) Use a spot treatment for problem areas containing salicylic acid—a blemish busting ingredient that will instantly help speed healing. 3) Remember that oily/acne prone skin still needs hydration, so don’t be afraid to moisturize! If our skin is dehydrated, it’ll overcompensate with oil production and that’s when we see more breakouts. For best results, look for a non-comedogenic and oil free moisturizer.

Stress is known to cause havoc in our bodies and to our skin. Practice self care by getting enough rest, eating well, exercising, and taking time for you!

2. We could all use a self-care night right now. Favorite at-home skincare treat/routine?

FO: A great idea for an at home “spa” treat: Prep the bathroom, gather a scented candle, facial cleanser, exfoliant, and sheet mask and two slices of cucumber (or two teabags that have been squeezed out and chilled). Fill the tub, add epsom salts and a few drops of lavender oil. Gently cleanse the skin, and exfoliate. Apply sheet mask and eye treatment and relax!

TSS: Florapy Beauty face masks instantly transport us to the spa! They use a unique blend of antioxidants and, unlike many sheet masks, adhere nicely to the skin. We ideally like to put them on and open a good book—but more realistically, they stay on well while you’re sitting at the computer or making lunch for the kids. To use: First, apply your favorite serum, then the sheet mask. If you’re looking for a little more pampering, grab a jade roller and massage all that goodness right in! Lauren loves the Strength + Energy mask and Brooke has been using Deep Hydration version. 

TWDS: It’s all about establishing a good routine/regimen. 1) Cleanse: do this morning and night. The AM wash is to remove dirt, debris and sweat from your pillow. The PM cleanse removes bacteria, environmental pollutants, free radicals, and make-up.  2) Tone: For hydration, power peptides, and to get the pH of the skin back to where it needs to be to protect it morning and night.  3) Exfoliate: 2-3 times per week.  4) Mask: 2-3 times per week with a mask that is tailored to your skincare needs/goals. 5) Serum: Apply serums specific to your skincare needs (antioxidant, hydration, anti-aging, etc.). Serum molecules are very small and they need to penetrate deep into the skin to really do their job. Serums are our power tools as they work the hardest to correct and prevent.  5) Moisturize: Moisturizing morning and night is essential to hydrate and lock in all the goodness you have just applied. A light daily moisturizer is good for all skin types. 6) SPF: SPF is a MUST and should be applied every morning–not just when you are planning to be out in the sun. This is your best tool to prevent sun damage which can lead to discoloration and wrinkles. We recommend a SPF 50.  

3. It’s going to be a bit until spas open up again, but can you still give your skin a professional-quality facial/treatment at home?

TSS: While we don’t recommend doing at-home medispa procedures, there are a few things that can help bridge the time between now and your next appointment:

  • Instead of trying to recreate a dermaplane at home, which can leave you with abrasions and potentially scars, we have been using our favorite epilator by Flawless Beauty. This product gently pulls out the hairs without making any breaks on the skin.
  • Now is the perfect time to start using a retinol or retinoid. Differin gel and A313 are examples of affordable and effective products that can be ordered on Amazon or Target. Retinols and retinoids regulate skin cell turnover, giving a gentle exfoliation, which stimulates collagen production (wrinkle prevention!) and cleans out your pores (making them appear smaller!) Initially, many people experience mild redness and flaking when they begin using these products, but since we’re all staying home for the time being, this is the perfect time to give these products a go. Use just a pea size amount of any retinol or retinoid you try and using them just three nights a week to start. Pro tip: for sensitive skin, use The Skin Sisters’ Sandwich Method and apply lotion before and after your retinol/retinoid product (as if you’re making a retinoid sandwich with lotion for the bread!)  Avoid retinols/retinoids if you are pregnant or nursing. 
  • Try out the Baby Foot Foot Peel, which uses a blend of botanics along with salicylic acid to peel that thick, dead skin off of your feet. The whole process takes about a week and boy, is it satisfying! 

FO: Laugh, sing, and dance (and apply lipstick liberally). Try one of Elixery’s amazing shades—my favorite shade is Nevermore!

TWDS: Professional skincare at the spa is the best first step to provide a professional consultation to set you up for success at home in achieving skincare goals. That said, 80 percent of skincare results rely on consistent home care. Following a routine (like the above) will help achieve the results you are seeking. The treatments you enjoy at the spa will accelerate these results and are perfect paired together. During our closure, we are available via email to make product recommendations until you can see an esthetician in-person when we return back to normal spa operations. 

4. Fave products we need at home during quarantine?

FO: Intelligent Nutrients refining micro polish. It’s a super-fine polish treatment that gently sweeps away dull surface cells and helps clarify, manage oil, and smooths skin.

TWDS: Some of our favorites (for most skin types) are: SkinCeuticals’ Gentle Cleanser (a deliciously-fresh mild cleanser that softens the skin), Phytocorrective Mask (for anyone concerned with redness and irritated skin), C.E. Ferulic (an antioxidant-rich serum that’s perfect for all skin types), and Micro-Exfoliating scrub (great for dry, normal, oily, and combination skin); Voya’s Ritzy Spritzy Toner (cooling and hydrating) and and Me Time Moisturizer (great for even the most sensitive of complexions. It will nourish, hydrate, and even tighten and plump the face). 

TSS: Brooke has been relying on her Philocaly Aloe + Rose Toner before bed to soothe. It works great and smells like a dream. Siena Soap Company’s Defender lotion bar has been a game changer for Lauren’s super dry hands and Brevena Restore & Hydrate Overnight Cream is so thick and hydrating, but not goopy or sticky. Plus, all local Minnesota-based companies!

5. Anything we should be aware of at home? (i.e. blue light from computers, cleaning supplies, etc.)

TSS: While we may not be out and about, that doesn’t mean we can skip the sunscreen. Apply each morning, so when you find yourself with a few minutes to pop outside for a walk or bike ride, you’re protected. It’s also important to remember that UV rays penetrate windows, so you want to make sure you’re protecting your skin even inside your home. Apply your antioxidants each morning to protect against the blue light emitted from our devices. We’re in front of our screens more than ever, and antioxidants can help protect our skin from free radical damage (think wrinkles & brown spots) that comes from blue light. 

TWDS: We have all become so aware of how much we all touch our face. Make sure to wear gloves while cleaning, so you can avoid touching your face with cleaning chemicals. It is also important to wash your hands frequently during the day so that you are not passing on any impurities to your face.

6. Anything else we can we do while stuck inside to help our skin?

TWDS: Now’s the perfect time to give our skin a rest and go make-up free at home. Also, it’s important to remember to wash your pillowcase—ideally twice a week. A satin pillowcase is also extra gentle on skin and hair.

Drinking more water helps to boost our skin’s glow, increases skin elasticity and helps keep skin looking young. We’ll drink to that!. And use this extra time at home to get into a consistent skincare routine (if you are not already).