The holidays are here, which means chunky knits, thicker moisturizers, and the start of the frenzy that is gift shopping. Unfortunately and ironically, the spread of jolly cheer also means the spread of the not-so-merry cold and flu viruses.
Not only do runny noses, coughs, sore throats, and fevers force us to clear out half our social plans, but these symptoms and everything we do to treat them can also wreak havoc on our skin and cause us to look sick even after we’re feeling better.
To avoid such an aftermath and to help your skin get holiday-ready post-virus, follow these flu season skincare tips to care for your skin during and after your cold. May you never have to hear “You look so sick!” ever again this season.
Moisture-sucking medication, lack of sleep, and a body under attack can all lead to dry skin. That’s why it’s crucial to up the ante in your moisturizing game. As tired as you may be, stick to your moisturizing routine and switch to products that contain ceramides, shea butter, or other ingredients that hydrate while also protecting your compromised moisture barrier.
The skin around the nose is especially susceptible to dryness, irritation, redness, and chapping, thanks to the friction caused by incessant nose-blowing. To reduce the blow on your skin (pun intended), regularly apply a cream or balm to the affected area.
Beautytap Associate Editor & Social Manager Ruth Kim recently fell victim to the virus and swears by the COSRX Balancium Comfort Ceramide Cream. Lightweight in texture but packed with moisturizing heavy-hitters like 10,000ppm of barrier-strengthening ceramide NP, repairing Centella asiatica leaf water and extract, and soothing madecassic acid, the hypoallergenic cream worked wonders on her nose area when she applied it frequently throughout the day.
Keep Cool Soothe Phyto Green Pair Cream also features madecassic acid and Centella asiatica extract, along with a cocktail of herbal extracts that quickly cools skin and reduces redness and inflammation while preventing moisture loss.
When fighting a cold or flu, you may not be in the best of moods. Same goes for your skin. So don’t aggravate it by exfoliating or applying harsh products with retinol, alcohol, and other potentially irritating and drying ingredients.
Let your skin recover before reintroducing retinoids and exfoliants back into your regimen and opt for soothing formulas infused with strengthening ingredients like ceramides and centella (read on for more).
As mentioned, the decongestants we take to free up our stuffy noses can also dehydrate our skin, in addition to the heater, frequent tissue use, and so on. Replenish your skin with the moisture it’s thirsting for with a daily hydrating sheet mask like Dr. Jart Vital Hydra Solution Mask. This crowd fave delivers a major boost of moisture with collagen-promoting algae extract and intensely hydrating Aquaxyl and xylitol.
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To maximize on the opportunity, you can opt for a gel mask like Mediheal Premium Essential Mask NMF Aquaring Nude Gel Mask, which features a blend of hyaluronic acid and ceramides that works to moisturize dry and dehydrated skin.
Not only is sheet masking a relaxing activity while waiting out the cold, but it’s also a clever little way to help relieve some of your symptoms. Keep the masks refrigerated for an hour or so before use for an extra cooling effect that can help alleviate headaches and congestion.
Soaking in a steaming hot bath sounds ideal when you’re stuffed up, dreary from meds, and bored with cabin fever. But resist the temptation because the hot water will dry out your skin even more. Instead, keep your showers warm (not hot) and limit them to 10 minutes each.
Also swap out your soap for a gentle, nourishing cleanser. Most standard soaps are designed to eliminate the oil sitting on top of the surface layer of skin, but while our health is subpar, we especially need that protective oily layer to keep the water underneath locked in so our skin stays hydrated.
A good alternative is Truezyme Water Lock Body Wash, which contains 98% naturally derived ingredients and is free of irritants like parabens, silicon oils, and sulfates. It’s also been tested to cleanse while moisturizing, leaving skin soft, comfy, and hydrated.
Another gentle body cleanser that cleans without stripping skin dry is SanDaWha Phytrogen Slender Body Wash, crafted with nourishing camellia oil and green tea extract. Free of synthetic preservatives, fragrances, dyes, and surfactants, it’s a great option for even sensitive skin.
Fitful coughs and spikes in fevers can keep us up at night when our bodies are combatting a sickness. This lack of sleep can lead to a sickly complexion, puffy eyes, and under-eye bags.
That’s why boosting skin circulation is important to keeping skin looking healthy, even when you’re not feeling so hot. A great, relaxing way is a DIY facial massage. Even at-home techniques can alleviate sinus pressure, boost lymphatic drainage, encourage skincare products to absorb more efficiently, and stimulate blood flow, all of which contribute to de-puffed, brighter skin. Esthetician Coco Park also offers some simple how-to’s here.
Speaking of brighter, there’s nothing that sucks the light out of your skin quite like being sick or bedridden with a nasty cold. So kick your glow-getting efforts up a notch by subbing some radiance-boosting products into your rotation. If you’re going to muster up the energy to do your skincare routine anyway, might as well make it count.
Galactomyces, a type of fermented yeast, is a cult-status ingredient loved for its brightening, hydrating, and antioxidant properties. COSRX Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence is formulated with 95% of these guys, as well as niacinamide, which lightens dark spots. Hyaluronic acid also hydrates and plumps up fine lines, making this a total no-brainer for skin that’s suffering through a cold.
It’s good practice to take your vitamins especially when your sick, but you should feed them to your skin, too. CELLNCO Vitamin Solution Radiant Whitening Ampoule is chock full of vitamin C, vitamin E, and niacinamide — key whitening and brightening ingredients that help improve the telltale signs of a winter ailment, inflammation, and dullness. Overall, it contains 10 vitamins and 21 natural extracts to make sure your skin looks radiant and glowy, even when you’re sniffling in bed.
A diet rich with B vitamins and iron can help soothe inflamed skin, as iron stimulates the production of red blood cells, which are crucial to bright and healthy skin. Shellfish, spinach, quinoa, turkey, and pumpkin seeds are some great sources.
Fatty acids like omega-3’s from salmon, tuna, walnuts, and flaxseed can also help maintain skin’s moisture level and improve moisture retention.
Contrary to popular belief, drinking water does not exactly hydrate your skin, at least not directly. Nevertheless, it can help lessen puffiness in the face, especially under the eyes. It’s also vital to recovery and helps keep fluids flowing throughout the body, flushing away toxins and keeping the internal temperature down.
When it comes to staying in due to a cold, there are so many factors working against your skin. To ensure your skin stays hydrated and comfy, leave a humidifier in your room and turn it on when you’re sleeping through the night. That way, the indoor air has enough moisture, and it won’t deplete the water level of your skin.
Just make sure to clean out your humidifier on a regular basis to avoid grime and mold, which can pose more health problems.
Mints don’t just freshen up your breath; they can freshen up your sick skin, too. Using skincare products infused with peppermint or spearmint oils can help clear stuffiness, free up congested nasal passages, and promote circulation, all of which can contribute to your skin glowing again.
Simply blend a drop or two of a minty essential oil with your moisturizer or try dabbing some on your cupid’s bow and temples. The invigorating scent will refresh and stimulate your senses.
There’s not much to do but sleep when you’re sick, but for some reason, sleep seems hard to come by when it’s just what you need. As luck would have it, lack of deep, uninterrupted sleep is partly to blame for when it comes to a lackluster complexion, puffy eyes, and under-eye bags commonly linked to colds and flus.
To help yourself score some meaningful shuteye, try turning on a soothing sound to calm your senses and lull you to sleep. You can download a free app like Relax Melodies or any of these listed here and catch some zzz’s to the relaxing sound of the river flowing or the ocean waves crashing. Whatever floats your boat.
Make your beauty sleep count by applying an overnight mask that will rejuvenate and revitalize skin as you slumber. If the balm around your nose is enough thickness for you, try A’Pieu Good Night Water Sleeping Mask for the rest of your face. The soothing, lightweight sleep mask is formulated with birch water, marine collagen, and lavender extract to hydrate and strengthen your skin.
If your skin’s feeling ultra vulnerable and dry, go luxe with Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask EX. The thicker, creamy formula uses hanbang ingredients, like mulberry and scutellaria root extracts, to deliver powerful antioxidants so you wake up to stronger, awake skin.
What are some of your skin remedies during and after a cold? Have you tried a flu season skincare routine that worked (or failed) in the past?