When you’re sick, your skin tells the world about it. No matter how many painkillers you pop and how much tea you drink, your dry, red, flaky skin is a broadcast of your immune system’s battles. In this era of prolonged pandemic, it’s worth remembering that COVID-19 isn’t suddenly the only disease in the world, and that your body is actually a seasoned warrior in weathering colds and flus. It’s also worth remembering, while you’re ladling up soups and brewing endless cups of herbal tea, that your skin needs some TLC too. In fact, caring for your skin during a bout of sickness can help you feel pampered and soothed through the pain and worry of a cold.
When you’re confined to bed with a sore throat and a fever, doing a multi-step skin care routine feels like torture, not self-care. And let’s face it, a zillion-step routine would be overkill for the sick day skin care woes of dry cheeks; peeling, red nose; puffy eyes; cracked lips. When I’m sick, I prefer to think of skin care as holistic: caring for my body and immune system as well as my skin.
Caring for your skin during a bout of sickness can help you feel pampered through the pain and worry of a cold.
Go Gentle With Cleansing
Switch your normal cleanser for one formulated for sensitive skin. Considering that you probably won’t be using sunscreen or makeup when you’re sick, switching to a gentle cleanser or micellar water helps purify your skin without stripping it.
Sheet Mask for Rehydration
Use a sheet mask with cooling and soothing ingredients (such as green tea or aloe) to give your skin a boost of the moisture it loses during sickness. When I’m feeling slightly feverish, a sheet mask is the equivalent of a cold compress, with the added benefit of hydrating my skin!
And if your eyes are puffy and watery from all that coughing and sneezing, consider using eye patches or eye masks to plump up and revive the delicate under-eye area. When I used the eye masks after a sheet mask during a recent bout of the flu, I was thrilled to see that I immediately stopped resembling a desiccated husk!
Add a Humidifier or Steam Facial
If you have a humidifier, plug one in near your bed as you sleep the sickness off. If you don’t have a humidifier, consider doing a homemade steam facial. Cover your head over a bowl of just-boiled or hot water and inhale for a few minutes before repeating the procedure. (Make sure the water’s not too hot!) Not only does this help clear your airways and thin out phlegm and mucus, it also helps soften the gunk in your pores and gives you an impromptu facial.
Mist, Mist, Mist
If you really can’t be bothered with sheet masks or steam facials, consider using facial mists with soothing ingredients such as lavender. Imagine mists as your secret weapon against the scourge of dry skin. I usually carry mists in my purse to hydrate and freshen my face throughout the day, especially if I’ve been spending time in a dry indoor environment.
Heal Your Skin (and Body!) From Within
Peppermint and chamomile teas help curb inflammatory responses and fight breakouts. They also soothe and restore balance to your body and can calm nerves with their scents. And chicken bone broth is terrific for both sickness and skin. Homemade bone broth (from low-simmering chicken bones in water overnight) contains collagen as well as nutrients such as cysteine, which helps relieve congestion.
Facial Oil Massage For Circulation and Hydration
Consider giving yourself a little face massage with a facial oil like avocado oil while bingeing on Netflix and noodles. Avocado oil is a powerhouse of antioxidants and nutrients that promote hydration as well as inhibit the breakdown of collagen. Wait, what? Yes, pure avocado oil isn’t just a fancy accoutrement to your kitchen, but it’s also a holy grail facial oil. It won’t clog your pores and is a heavier-duty oil than Moroccan argan oil, perfect for those sick days when you need some extra TLC.
Massages, even quick five-minute massages, aid in circulation and soothing sore lymph nodes. Ever since adding facial massages as part of my daily beauty routine, I’ve found my skin is more elastic and tighter and recommend it as a cheap, easy way of getting an easy glow that lasts overnight to the next day.
A Warm Bath to Soothe and Restore
Start the bath, add a few drops of essential oils, and allow yourself to rest. Not only do baths feel luxurious and soothing but they also help your body feel restored and ready for bed. Don’t stay in the bath for too long, about 10 minutes should be enough without stripping your body of moisture.
And finally, rest, rest, rest! Don’t fret about deadlines, bills, or outstanding work. The world can wait for you to regain your personal brand of awesome. Take sick days as time to rest your body and mind and to check out of busy-ness with a legitimate excuse. I guarantee that being intentional about sick day skin care can lessen the soreness and sniffles and can mute the toll illness takes on your body.