Looking in the mirror during my first week of staying home, I expected to be glowing. My skin hadn’t seen a lick of makeup in days upon days, I’d kept up flawlessly with my skin care routine and I was steering clear of whatever pollutants the city air usually had in store for me. Imagine my distaste when I saw the biggest zit I’d had in years taking up real estate on my chin. What was worse, the continent-sized acne left behind equally giant scarring.
I went through the usual suspects. PMS: nah. Stress: could be, but I wasn’t feeling that different, anxiety-wise. Lack of sleep: well, no, since I was no longer commuting 45 minutes to work.
So, what gives? I assumed that curbing my makeup habits would result in fresh, blemish-free skin. If I wasn’t clogging my pores and letting my skin “breathe,” shouldn’t it be chill?
Turns out, a makeup detox, a lot of the time, isn’t necessarily going to make your skin clearer.
Going makeup-free, apparently, isn’t my saving grace, and it won’t be for a lot of people, either. A quick poll from my fellow working-from-home friends and colleagues yielded the same results: no one was wearing makeup, but everyone was breaking out.
According to private practice dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman, some of the ingredients in our favorite beauty products actually may be helping more than you think. Some foundations, for example, contain anti-inflammatory agents that battle blemishes and redness.
“Makeup is not a demon,” she said to Marie Claire.
In actuality, as long as you’re appropriately removing it every night, makeup really isn’t the Achilles heel we all may think it is. Yes, letting your skin breathe every now and then is an important way to keep it healthy, and the fragrances and oils in some products can be costly to your skin, but there is a reason lots of people have arsenals of beauty products in their stores: It’s not bad enough to part with.
This still doesn’t quite explain why my skin would get worse without it, though.
The issue could be what experts lovingly refer to as the “skin purge.” CEO of Phyto-C Skincare Eddie Omar told Refinery29 that your skin could take a few days to acclimate to its new environment -- you know, the environment. During the purge, much like when you introduce a new skin cell-turnover product, all the impurities that were hiding beneath the surface of your skin may come right up.
The good news is, it shouldn’t last for more than a few days. If you are breaking out, it’s important not to resort back to wearing the makeup, though -- that’ll just make it harder for the blemishes to heal.
Dr. Harold Lancer, a dermatologist from Beverly Hills, also told Marie Claire that makeup withdrawal is a thing. Nope, that’s not a joke.
"If you're accustomed to wearing makeup and you stop, there's a subconscious emotional component to not wearing cosmetics, which triggers testosterone production," he said. So, to be quite literal, your body could be subconsciously stressed about not wearing makeup.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “Well, no, I’m plenty confident without makeup on,” you’re not alone -- I feel the same! There are plenty of days (albeit, weekend days when I’m not going to work) where I complete all my errands fresh-faced as can be.
But this is where stress comes back into play. Even though you may feel like you have a handle on your new normal, whatever it may be right now, you could be feeling it subconsciously. There’s no two ways around the fact that the current state of the world is one of confusion, turmoil and uncertainty, and as well as you may be outwardly handling it, you could be a big ball of jitters on the inside -- which is not only normal, but expected. A continuous breakout sans makeup could be the physical manifestation of that.
Think about it this way, too: You could be breaking out right now even if you were wearing makeup. You just don’t know that because you’re not going to waste product hanging out bingeing Netflix and ordering quarantine ice cream sundaes.
The important thing is to remember that this, too, will go back to normal soon. In the meantime, we should be staying rigid in our skin care routines; having less of a schedule throughout the day could make it easier to slip or not be as punctual (yes, I’m talking to myself, who’s barely washed her face earlier than noon since she’s been home).
Also, try to stick to a balanced diet and keep staying hydrated. A dinner of nachos sounds like a great quarantine comfort decision, but your skin may suffer for it.
So, if your skin is having a tough go at this quarantine stuff, keep calm and
carry on moisturize.