As if the pandemic weren’t bad enough, eczema ambushed my face at the outset of COVID-19 to add an unsightly red exclamation point to this whole morass. Like the canary in the coal mine, this dermatological condition has always been a reliable indicator of my stress level, and with every cursory search around “end of COVID-19” or “is this the apocalypse?” I knew it would likely be riding facial shotgun for the long haul.
But herein lies the problem: We’re all in the habit of not touching our face right now. As a result, it’s one of the most neglected parts of the body. Which is the opposite of what we really need to do, since we hold so much tension in our jaws and temples (think headaches), and stress so often takes root here (those furrowed brow lines).
Here are five ways we can help our faces relax, breathe, and regain some healthy glow:
Hydrate with spring water spray
I’m not a fan of bottled water for various reasons, including plastic’s impact on the planet and the fact I can access perfectly clean water for free from my kitchen tap. But I make an exception for Avène Thermal Spring Water, the perfect antidote to both COVID-19 anxiety and raging eczema.
Sourced from the Avène spring in France, this pure, sterile water is applied as a light mist made for sensitive skin. It’s both a calming, soothing spray for itchy, red skin, but also offers an instantaneous “get-ahold-of-yourself!” jolt whenever I feel panicky. I just spritz my face, and the water immediately soothes, as well as restores the epidermal barrier.
Once international travel resumes, this French-pharmacy-magic-in-a-bottle is also great at hydrating skin post-flight. Plus, with every 300ml limited-edition bottle of Thermal Spring Water sold this year, Avène will donate $1 to the Canadian Cancer Society.
Take a calming eucalyptus pause
We all know there are toxins in many of our beauty products, but what about our toxic thoughts and moods? While MIFA’s Eucalyptus Mood Mist is another spray in my arsenal, it serves a completely different purpose as a restorative, healing stress-buster and mood lifter.
This 100 per cent natural essential oil spray’s hero ingredient is eucalyptus, which is said to boost mental clarity and stimulate the immune system, while its Bulgarian lavender water calms and reduces anxiety and stress. I simply spray the air around me and inhale deeply three times, which makes me feel energized and ready to take on another deadline—instead of, say, another pint of ice cream.
I bring this little number upstairs at bedtime—it makes for the perfect toxin-free pillow spray that’s safe on my skin, too. Sweet dreams.
Roll out stress with these massage stones
Frontline workers are the ones making all the difference in hospitals right now, but there’s one nurse working remotely from my desk these days, too. The Uplift Massaging Beauty Roller by Nurse Jamie is a beauty roller designed to combat fine lines and loss of firmness by way of rolling, rhythmic strokes; I press it into service multiple times a day for no reason, or whenever there are children knocking at my office door.
The hexagonal wand holds 24 massaging stones that, when rolled around your face and neck, temporarily energizes, revives, and uplifts the skin, much like a true massaging facial does. But I think it’s the Pavlovian response that’s the appeal: rubbing this tiny implement around in a slow, methodical way is the perfect antidote to the unknown outside. I’m immediately distracted and quite likely less haggard looking, if only for a moment.
Try this anti-inflammatory skin-care cream
Because of my breakout, I’ve tamped down on my normal skin-care regime right now. In its place, I’m using Graydon Skincare’s Green Cream, featuring the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial bakuchiol, which brightens and reduces flakiness, while its moth bean helps to minimize fine lines and wrinkles.
It’s a lightweight, water-free formula with squalane and sulforaphane-rich broccoli seed oil for an extra boost of protection from environmental pollution. Because you don’t want to social distance from the outdoors.
Ask for a little help from a French expert
Like everything else these days, virtual reality is the new reality. When COVID-19 struck, French beauty brand Caudalie noticed an uptick in clients asking its online chat team how to use products they already had in the back of their cupboards. The company—famous for its skin care made with resveratrol from grape seeds—responded with free online beauty consultations aimed at helping people rediscover the beauty products they already have on hand or simply navigate the nuances of their skin concerns.
Virtual consultations are available Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. for 20 minutes each, in English, French, Spanish, or Korean. I’m tempted to book daily appointments for the general nuances of all concerns.
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