Beauty guru Sunday Riley on why lockdown has our skin in a spin

It’s not just you, lots of us are suffering from dry, red, irritated skin thanks to lockdown. We sat down with the mother of skincare to find out what’s at play and what we can do about it.

Just as our stomach is often the first to know when we’re stressed or upset, so is our skin. Our skin, of course, is the largest organ of the body: laid out it’s around 20 square feet. As unsettling as that may sound, we’re all guilty – especially in our twenties and thirties – of taking this incredible intelligent barrier and organ for granted. Now, with the last 12 months forcing us all indoors and halving our busy schedules, lots of us are more attuned to the changes to our skin, hair, nails, bodies and energy levels. While the beauty industry has been one of the hardest hit, Covid-19 sales of cosmetic goods have rocketed.

Besides maskne” (spots brought about by the wearing of masks) and the zoom boom” that’s had many people booking in for tweakments after too many hours scrutinising their own appearance on video calls, a study conducted by Glowday reports that 44 per cent of 34 – 54 year olds believe lockdown has aged them. Truth or clickbait? While lipstick sales have plummeted, skincare has skyrocketed: John Lewis reported their sales of skincare and body products were up 234 per cent this year. We may not be painting our faces for a night on the tiles, but it would suggest an increased fascination with our skin and the ageing process while we’ve been cooped up inside.

To get to the root of it, I spoke to Sunday Riley, the skincare genius and founder of her eponymous cult skincare brand. Sunday Riley, which is cruelty-free and results-driven was ahead of the curve when it launched in 2009 and championed a then unique approach of science-based active ingredients with botanicals. From a very snowy Texas, the founder reveals her tips for beating lockdown skin blues below, one active ingredient at a time.

Our skin has changed this year…

Spending more time indoors and the frequent use of masks have played a significant part in some of us experiencing maskne” or more sensitivity. The most common thing people have asked me about over the past year is maskne”. When we wear a mask we are creating a very humid and warm environment for our skin, this can trap excess sebum which bacteria then feeds on. In addition to this, the constant friction of the mask rubbing against our skin can wreak havoc with our natural moisture barriers. When wearing masks regularly I would recommend cleansing the skin both morning and night. Using a BHA (beta hydroxy acid) can help decongest the pores and remove excess sebum, dirt and pollution. Our UFO Ultra-Clarifying Facial Oil not only contains salicylic acid to help with this but also pulls hydration back into the skin to help support the moisture barrier.

Want to start glowing again? Look no further than Vitamin C

I always recommend Vitamin C. Our bodies don’t produce it naturally, so I like to eat a Vitamin C rich diet, and apply it topically within my regime. When formulating our C.E.O range, I use a super-stable form of Vitamin C called THD ascorbate, which helps to improve skin firmness and texture, while brightening, and giving the skin a natural, enviable glow.

Time to invest in ingredients…

I would recommend anyone with this skin type introduce retinol, a Vitamin C and alpha hydroxy acid into their regime. These three key actives will work together in slightly different ways, to remove dull-looking, dry, dead skin, brighten the appearance of dark spots, discolouration and even our skin texture and improve the visible signs of ageing.

Pass the retinol…

I believe there are three key active ingredients everybody should have in their regime, no matter their skin type. Alpha hydroxy acids help resurface and brighten the appearance of the skin, removing pore-clogging debris and dead skin cells which can make our skin look dull and lifeless. Retinol is a daily essential in my regime. A lot of people assume it only helps with fine lines and wrinkles but it can do so much more. I love it for its ability to reduce the appearance of surface redness, helping improve blemishes and breakouts as well as evening our skin tone while improving the appearance of dark spots and discolourations. My last go-to is Vitamin C. I love to use it both day and night and it helps brighten the appearance of dark spots and discolouration while plumping skin.

You can’t get rid of pores…

I know many people want to banish their pores entirely, but pores are an essential part of our skin structure and we absolutely need them to have healthy and protected skin. If our pores sometimes seem enlarged this is normally due to an excess of sebum collecting in them. A great way to decongest pores and remove excess sebum is to use a BHA – salicylic acid is oil soluble so can penetrate the excess sebum and remove it from the pores along with clogging dirt and pollution.

Protect your natural moisture barrier from temperature changes like central heating…

It’s important we do everything we can to support our natural moisture barrier and microbiome when we’re exposed to sudden changes in temperature. Products like Blue Moon Cleansing Balm, Ice Ceramide Moisturiser and Juno Antioxidant + Superfood Face Oil are formulated with ingredients to help support and protect our natural moisture barrier while Pink Drink Firming Resurfacing Essence provides critical support to your microbiome, and can help reduce the appearance of surface redness.

My beauty predictions for 2021…

After a year indoors I think most people (including myself) are eager to be outside and travel (not to mention hug their loved ones again!) We’ve seen self-care and skincare become more important to us than ever amongst Covid and other stresses that 2020 brought. As we start navigating a more normal” world, I believe self-care will expand into that; like getting outside again, for one. Meaning, I see sun care being that self-care moment in our new normal.

I wouldn’t live without…

Hands down, our Good Genes Glycolic Acid Treatment – I am a massive advocate for exfoliation!

Who has your favourite face and why?

Do I have to choose just one?! All four of my children’s faces are my favourite.

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