Nobody is exempt from breakouts. Not celebrities, not international royalty, and not even beauty editors. Even with access to just about every skincare treatment and product out there, your favorite experts still find themselves grappling with the occasional pimple or blackhead, and these days, figuring out the best methods for handling acne during quarantine.
Surprisingly, in an industry marked by abundance for beauty editors — yes, the rumors are true, they're basically showered with free products — they're finding that a minimalist approach to skincare may have been the trick to clear skin all along. "I’ve recently found that letting my skin just breathe some days is really beneficial and won’t throw my skin off balance," Star Donaldson, associate social media editor for Byrdie says. "Especially now that I’m not exposed to as much pollution and outside factors, it’s a great time to just leave it be—I definitely recommend it."
So ahead, check out how five beauty editors with vastly different pre-quarantine skincare routines, have discovered that their skin is responding best to minimalism, abbreviated routines, and patience.
We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Lisa DeSantis, Deputy Beauty Director, Real Simple & Health Magazine
"In the beginning I was really slacking and not doing much of anything, but my skin showed it," DeSantis, who describes herself as having "textbook combination" skin, says. "It was dry and dull, but also breaking out like crazy— it wasn't a good look and made me feel worse about myself and our circumstances."
So to fix things, she did a 180 with her beauty routine that was once marked by a lofty amount of makeup and moderate skincare. "When I was breaking out so badly, I went straight to celebrity aesthetician, Renee Rouleau and quickly implemented her AHA/BHA Blemish Control Cleanser morning and night, plus her Anti-Bump Solution on any acne flare-ups," she says. "And once a week, I started using Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant to help balance skin and prevent breakouts. It's stinky and expensive, but it works." Most importantly, she's keeping SPF incorporated, especially as she spends more time these days scrolling. "Yes, you still need one when you're indoors, especially with the extended screen time (read: blue light exposure) we're all getting! I'm currently loving the brand new Versed Guards Up Daily Mineral Sunscreen."
Star Donaldson, Associate Social Media Editor, Byrdie
"Lately, I feel so deflated in quarantine I don’t feel like doing anything," Donaldson says. That said, she's turned to a shorter lineup of products that are a whole lot more potent. "Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 Orignal 1970 has been my quarantine partner. I find that if I keep up with using it three to four times a week, my skin looks even, clean, and healthy-looking even if I skip other parts of my routine."
The Byrdie social media editor has also used this time to try-out a buzzy at-home treatment. "I recently tried dermaplaning at home for the first time," she says. "It was a lot easier than I expected and it got rid of all of the little fuzzy hairs on my face. Which was very welcome for more reasons than one (read: goodbye mustache). Plus, it makes serums go on better and my skin looks fresher and brighter."
Donaldson says that these times have shown her the benefits of skincare minimalism. "Surprise, surprise—quarantine has taught me that my skin doesn’t need a million products to keep it happy," she says. "Even though I know it's not the best idea, I often pile on the products because I’m so excited about the results. So because I’ve been pretty lazy lately, doing the least has been for the best."
Kayla Greaves, Senior Beauty Editor, Instyle Magazine
"I actually find myself using less products," Greaves says. "In the beginning I was breaking out a lot so I’ve been really focused on resolving hyperpigmentation. In the morning, I splash my face with water and use epi.logic’s Vitamin C + Multivitamin Defense Serum, followed by Peter Thomas Roth’s Potent-C Bright & Plump Moisturizer and EltaMD’s UV Clear sunscreen. At night, I use Boscia’s Clear Complexion Cleanser with my Foreo, followed up by Tatcha’s Violet-C Brightening Serum, Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Night Serum, and La Mer’s Moisturizing Cream." And while many of us are dealing with dry skin, Greaves has found a way to keep things moisturized even during long days at home. "I also sleep with Hey Dewy’s humidifier and sometimes keep it on during the day as I work. The dry indoor air was one of the main reasons why my skin was freaking out. Fresh air does the skin good. Dry, stale indoor air does not. I always knew this, but I think I definitely took it for granted in the past."
Nicola Dall'Asen, Staff Writer, Allure
"My routine has far fewer steps than it did a few months ago," she says. "I’m sticking to the staples that I know work for my skin rather than trying every new product that comes my way like I normally would. The products I keep reaching for every single day and night are the Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser, Cle Cosmetics Vitamin C Elixir, Glow Recipe Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask, and Laura Mercier The Perfect Cream. When I want to treat myself, I’ll grab a Sweet Chef sheet mask from the collection I keep in my fridge."
And while some are shying from those more invasive skincare tools, Dall'Asen is embracing them. "Celebrity facialist Georgia Louise has a microneedling tool that’s absolutely genius," she says. "Unlike a traditional micro needle roller, this little handheld device comes with detachable, single-use, plastic micro needles so you don’t have to worry about bacteria manifesting anywhere."
Dall'Asen says the quarantine has changed what she views as skincare necessities. "As a beauty editor who has the privilege of trying lots of products and treatments at no charge, I’ve definitely changed what I define as an 'essential' amount of products to make my skin really thrive," she says.
Danielle Jackson, Assistant Beauty Editor, POPSUGAR
"Now that I’ve been at home and have so much extra time on my hands, I feel like I’ve made a better effort to use that time to beef up my skincare routine and figure out what my skin likes," Jackson says. "For example, I wasn’t exfoliating or using masks as much as I should have been before but now I try to make sure it’s something I’m doing at least once a week. The Bliss Bright Idea Moisturizer with Vitamin C + Tri-Peptide has become my favorite product to moisturize with, and I also make sure I’m still applying sunscreen daily, so after cleansing in the morning I usually follow up with Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50."
Jackson has also been taking time to mask, something she says is therapeutic. "I’ve been finding strange comfort in putting on masks every few days," she says. "I’m at my parents’ house right now and I didn’t come here with many products, so I ended up buying this New York Biology Dead Sea Mud Mask on Amazon when I got here just to have something to wear once or twice a week to give myself a sense of normality. It absorbs oil and gives the skin a deep cleanse, which is something I figured I could definitely use as a person who was used to wearing makeup almost every day before the quarantine."
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support.