Instead, you’re better off boosting your ‘skinmunity’ (that’s er, skin immunity, fyi). The best way? Strengthening your barrier function. “‘Skinmunity’ is gaining traction in skincare circles right now,” explains skincare, aesthetics and wellness expert Dr Uliana Gout.
“It stems from the year of lockdowns we’ve suffered where ‘Maskne’, Zoom face and general ‘Skinxiety’ have left us feeling deflated and our skin struggling to cope,” she adds.
Now that we’re back out and about – maybe on public transport, maybe barrelling headfirst through pollution, definitely sweating buckets behind our mask and probably touching our face – the virophobe in us has likely kicked into higher gear. I for one am a newly converted hypochondriac (working on it).
Our skin needs more protection, right? And, having lived through #sanitationnation, does anyone else want to antibac their face when they leave the supermarket? It’s natural for us to want to do as much as we can to feel strong, safe and – let’s be honest – placated, but going nuclear on our skin with alcohol-filled sanitisers is probs not the way.
Our skin acts as a filter. The outermost layer (or stratum corneum) is like a brick wall made up of skin cells held together by mortar-like lipids, such as fatty acids and ceramides. It keeps the good stuff, like moisture, in and the bad stuff, like pollution, toxins and pathogens, out. Our skin also has an acidic mantle at a precise pH which helps to control the growth of harmful bacteria and viruses, and aid wound healing.
Certain factors can weaken our skin barrier making the bonds between our cells less sturdy and throwing our pH balance out of whack, which makes our skin more prone to irritation, infection and other skin conditions. These include excess sun exposure, pollution, over-washing, harsh ingredients, physical friction – aka masks – and psychological stress, to name a few. Sound familiar?
So how can we help fortify our skin? Three ways, says Dr Uliana.
Step 1: Boost antioxidants
Antioxidants fight oxidative stress, which is an imbalance in skin caused by too many free radicals (bad molecules for skin found in toxins) and not enough antioxidants (good molecules in skin that keep it healthy). Therefore, introducing extra antioxidants into your skin can help boost skin immunity. You’ll find antioxidants in vitamins so serums containing vitamin C and vitamin B3 (aka niacinamide) are great shouts.
Our favourites include Murad’s Essential C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (£65) which offers a day cream, a hit of vitamin C and a protective SPF all in one and The Inkey List’s Niacinamide (£6.99) which fortifies skin strength while minimising the appearance of pores. We’ll take that.
Step 2: Reduce inflammation and enhance skin barrier function
If you’re not already familiar with your microbiome, it’s the network of good bacteria that lives on your face (chill, we love ’em). They neutralise bad bacteria and keep our skin healthy. “We now know that the microbiome is integral to skin health and plays a vital role in the immune system. It also has the potential to radically improve the way we care for our skin,” explains Rob Calcraft co-founder of REN Skincare and new microbiome-focused brand, Cultured Biomecare.
To cultivate your complexion look to prebiotic, probiotic and posbiotic infused skincare, all of which feed the good bacteria leading to calmer, stronger, healthier skin. We love the Fresh Kombucha Cleansing Treatment (£19), the Aurelia London Cell Revitalise Day Moisturiser (£40.60) and Gallinee’s Prebiotic Face Vinegar (£23) for biome-friendly buys.
Step 3: Increase hydration
You know what they say, hydrated skin is happy skin, so hyaluronic acid is pretty much your best friend and an ingredient to look out for. A lubricating moisturiser prevents skin from becoming dry, tight and irritated (these are some of our faves) and if you’ve already got a moisturiser you love (see Aurelia above) introduce hyaluronic via your serum before moisturising. If you need an extra top-up of hydration throughout the day, grab yourself a face mist and spritz when you’re feeling parched.
And if you want to take your skin for a really rigorous MOT, Dr Uliana developed the LAM Signature Skinmunity Treatment Programme at her clinic, London Aesthetic Medicine, to ensure skin is in the best condition possible, care of in-house facials, at-home skincare protocols and oral supplementation with vitamins C, D, zinc and other multivitamins delivered by mouth sprays – the most modern way of delivering these ingredients into the body.
So, lots to get cracking with, peeps. Let’s go.