If you’re working from home, and have been ever since the onset of the pandemic, you’re in good company. In fact, an estimated 71 percent of American workers are currently working from home compared to about 20 percent prior to the pandemic, according to a Pew Research survey. While this has allowed Americans to have significantly more flexibility, freedom and family time, it may be wreaking havoc on one very important personal feature: our face.
More specifically, our skin is impacted directly by our lifestyle habits, which, for many, includes sitting in front of a computer screen for a handful of hours a day. “Our skin is a living organ and is directly impacted by exercise, diet, emotional stresses, sleep patterns, etc.,” notes Jeremy A. Brauer, M.D., a New York-based dermatologist. “Depending on whether working from home has allowed you to eat healthier, exercise more regularly, and adopt better sleep habits or, instead, binge on take out without access to your gym or equipment and stay up late watching bad TV, working from home may have resulted in the improvement of your skin health, or has caused it to suffer.”
In fact, for some, working from home means never having to step foot outside all day — or even all week!
One important way working from home has impacted skin health, is how much time some of it forces us to spend indoors. In fact, for some, working from home means never having to step foot outside all day — or even all week! As such, it has left us forgetting the importance of basic skincare principles, such as wearing sunscreen. “For many people, applying sunscreen was a part of their morning regimen but when they started working from home, many people stopped not knowing if it was necessary if they weren’t going outside,” says Marisa Garshick, M.D., a dermatologist at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery (MDCS) in New York. “It is known that UV rays can still penetrate windows and contribute to sun damage.”
Another key factor that can contribute to skin damage that is exacerbated from working from home is the blue light that is emitted from our digits devices, which can worsen hyperpigmentation, especially in those with darker skin, notes Dr. Garshick. She recommends using a blue light filter on your electronic devices whenever possible to mitigate the impact of this blue light.
If you’re still working from home and plan to for the foreseeable future, the good news is that there are plenty of ways you can work to protect your skin from the elements. Here, dermatologists share their best solutions for arming skin with protection while working from home.
Wear SPF daily
Even if you don’t plan on leaving your house it is still recommended to wear SPF daily. Unless you don’t have a single window in your home, chances are you’re still exposed to some UV light, which can penetrate right through your windows, notes Dr. Garshick. “Additionally, some sunscreens can also provide protection against blue light, which can be emitted from digital devices,” she adds.
Wash your face twice daily
You might not be wearing much (or any) makeup on your work-from-home days, but it’s still important to wash your face twice daily — once in the morning and once at night. Doing so, according to Dr. Garshick, eliminates any excess oil, dirt or debris that can build up on the skin throughout the day. “By cleansing the skin it helps to prevent breakouts and also helps to leave the skin looking healthy,” she says.
Shower at least once a day
Don’t plan on seeing anyone all day? It’s still important to shower — at least once a day. You don’t have to wash your hair, but removing dead skin and oil will help prevent the formation of body acne, according to Brendan Camp, M.D., a Manhattan-based dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology. “Cleaning the skin with a gentle cleanser can also reduce the bacterial burden of the skin, as some skin bacteria can contribute to the formation of body odor,” he adds.
Still apply antioxidant products
Not using antioxidant products, like a vitamin C serum, can put your skin at risk from damage caused by free oxygen radicals, warns Dr. Camp. “These reactive oxygen species are generated from normal metabolic processes and exposure to UV radiation and can damage cellular structures like DNA, protein, and lipids,” he says. “Antioxidant products neutralize them and minimize the damage they cause.” He recommends using skincare products that contain antioxidants such as vitamin C, niacinamide, vitamin E and retinol.
Wash and change your sheets
Washing and changing your sheets, especially your pillowcases, is important, not only because it may help reduce exposure to oils and buildup that contribute to acne, but also because it functions as a source of accomplishment, explains Dr. Camp. What’s more: Your mental health may also stand to benefit from completing small and basic tasks like tidying up and making your bed. One study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that stress levels were higher in individuals who lived in more “cluttered” spaces.
“Time at home has given many of us an opportunity to improve our skincare routines as well as the time to regularly scan ourselves, and our skin from head to toe,” says Dr. Brauer. “While this can and has been a good thing in some ways — especially if you discover a skin cancer — it has also resulted in patients picking, scratching and manipulating otherwise benign skin lesions, and in some cases resulting in infections and scarring.” If you have a skin issue, or potentially a condition, he recommends against self-diagnosing or self-treating if it doesn’t seem to be getting better. Instead, schedule an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist who can safely determine a treatment remedy.
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