We’re saving money… spending limited time outdoors… and our favourite skin clinic is closed until further notice. How on earth will we survive?!

SOS spoke to Hayley Fogarty, Naturopathic Skin Specialist and owner of Solstice Skin Clinic in Bondi, Australia about the health of our skin during isolation and what tips and tricks we can implement to maintain healthy, glowing, happy skin.

1. What are some of the side effects for our skin of being indoors so much at the moment (especially for those of us who are constantly in aircon, or heated rooms with minimal outdoor exposure)?

There are definitely pros and cons for our skin being indoors so much.

Pros – our skin isn’t being affected by overexposure to UV which we know can be damaging as it leads to a breakdown of collagen + elastin (accelerated ageing), hyper-pigmentation and increases our risk for skin cancers. UV also does damage to the DNA of the cell.

Cons – Aircon and heating can lead to dehydration in the skin. It increases FTEWL (fast transepidermal water loss) which is when the water evaporates out the skin at an accelerated rate leading dry, flakey and irritated skin. Adequate water also promotes necessary enzyme activity to break down desmosomes in the stratum corneum (top layer) so the cells can properly desquamate (slough off). If this is reduced then it can lead to a buildup of skin cells which is rough and congested.

2. Does the potential lack of vitamin d have an impact on our skin?

Vitamin D is incredibly important for not only skin health but for our overall health as well. Vitamin D is a fat soluble prohormone steroid that comes from sunlight, some food sources (cod liver, fish, eggs, mushroom and beef liver) and supplementation.

Vitamin D deficiency has been found to be in people who suffer from acne, atopic dermatitis, rosacea, vitiligo and psoriasis. Vitamin D is essential for skin health as it aids in wound healing, barrier function, tissue repair, regulating the innate immune system and up-regulates antimicrobial effects in the skin. I would usually supplement with vitamin D if there is a deficiency in these clients!

I recommend 20 mins of sun exposure in non peak times (avoid 11am-2pm). Always protect your face with SPF and a hat. You want to expose the fatty parts of your body eg. arms, legs + stomach as that’s where it is predominantly absorbed in the body (not the face).

3. Obviously for many of us, we can’t go out and get facials or skin treatments and many are saving pennies – only spending money on ‘essentials’ until things become a little more settled. What practical steps should we be doing at home to look after our skin better?

Now is such a great time to focus on skin health! If money is a concern then using what you have at home to do an at home facial:

Cleanse, tone, exfoliate, serum, facial massage and moisturise.

There are some good youtube videos on lymphatic facial + healthy ageing massage techniques. Using a plant based oil is best to massage the face.

Here is one of them – Lymph + Anti-ageing technique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqKX-guFdXc

Aside from that, cold showers are another great way to help circulation and the lymphatic system. Using a gua sha, jade roller or home roller if you have at home a couple of times / week as well to help with collagen production.

I have also created an ‘ISO Facial Kit’ which is essentially 4 facials delivered straight to your doorstep!

4. We know that stress can be a catalyst for skin flare ups such as psoriasis… What other impacts does stress have on our skin health? What tools do you recommend to reduce stress or manage inflammatory skin conditions when we feel overwhelmed?

Stress can have a profound impact on our skin health. It will exacerbate existing skin conditions such as acne, eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis and can accelerate ageing.

Our skin has many nerve fibres and is closely linked to the CNS (central nervous system). There is a strong relationship between the brain and the skin. The skin sends information on temperature, pain, pH and the outside environment to the brain and the brain sends important information to the skin.

Stress is perceived by the brain and this triggers certain hormones such as corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and cortisol to be released in the body.

Cortisol can up regulate oil production in the skin as well as increasing inflammation and activating mast cells (immune cells) leading to more inflamed, painful acne and slower wound healing.

Psoriasis and stress go hand in hand. Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that is characterised by proliferation of skin cells. Stress encourages more proliferation of skin cells, increased mast cells and inflammation in the skin making the condition worse.

In eczema and dermatitis sufferers stress also plays a big part. Stress can affect barrier function which can lead to an increased allergic response, water loss and a lower tolerance to itch. Stress increases inflammation in the skin and dysregulates the immune response making the condition worse.

Tips on managing stress: 

1) Deep breathing. x10 deep breaths every hour while working or in a stressful environment.

2) Yoga

3) Meditation

4) Nature walks

5) Calling a friend

6) A bath with epsom salts

7) Reading, cooking or getting creative – drawing, painting, crafts.

8) SLEEP! 8-9 hours/night

9) exercise daily

10) Magnesium. I prescribe magnesium to nearly all my skin clients. It enables the body to better manage stress.

5. Is there any merit to diy face masks or skin care products such as salt scrubs etc? If so, would you mind sharing your favourite recipe with us?

Yes! I used to love a good DIY face mask.

I don’t do them much anymore because I use the Dermaviduals skincare range that has some amazing face masks such as the enzyme mask that is a clay base with pineapple and papaya enzymes (comes in my kit). I would avoid salt scrubs! The salt pieces are too jagged and sharp creating microtrauma to the skin. Exfoliants should contain perfectly round beads to manually and gently exfoliate the skin like jojoba beads.

Super Simple Papaya Face Mask Recipe: 

– Blend a small amount of papaya fruit in a blender and apply to skin for 10 minutes and wash off! You can do x1/week.

6. Any other words of wisdom for our readers?

Finding the correct skincare that is customised for your skin is so important!

Everyone’s skin is so different and has different requirements. It’s best to speak to a professional skin therapist about what best works for you.

I only use and prescribe skincare that is 100% pure so no chemicals, preservatives, fragrances, emulsifiers, parabens or essential oils and contains ingredients that feed the skin the nutrients they require and get safe, long term results.

Now is a great time to release old habits that are holding you back and to establish some new, healthier ones. Proper nutrition, exercise, sleep, adequate water intake and a healthy skincare routine are vital to glowing, healthy, clear skin.

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

Hayley Fogarty is a qualified Naturopath and Corneotherapist. She own Solstice Skin – a Naturopathic Skin Clinic in Bondi, Australia.

Hayley has extensive experience treating skin conditions such as acne, eczema, dermatitis, rosacea and psoriasis but also loves seeing clients who don’t have a condition and just want healthier functioning skin!

She assess external skin health as well as internal health to get safe, long term results.

Website: https://www.solsticeskin.com.au/