Protect Your Skin From Your Office
We think a lot about protecting our skin from the sun, but the office can be just as brutal. Dry, cold or overheated, and poorly lit, our work spaces can be every bit as tough on our skin as the great outdoors. Worse, depending on the season, you could be walking from one extreme to another just to get lunch. Here are a few quick tips to keep your skin at its best while on the job
Coffee and soda are office staples but they don’t do your skin any good. Replace the sugar or caffeine rush with water. Your skin and hair will thank you. The jury is still out on whether coffee will dehydrate you, but soda will for sure—not to mention the excessive sugar.
Hydration is key all year round, says Dr. Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, a board-certified dermatologist in Boston. Our bodies are 70 percent water. You should aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily.
Hydrate your air
Personal humidifiers have come a long way from the clunky, noisy steam machines of yesteryear. Some low-profile humidifiers are hardly noticeable, and others will remove allergens from the air. If you are in a private office, a personal humidifier can help a lot, but in big spaces you may be fighting a losing battle. Be sure to keep humidifiers clean, as they can quickly build up with gunk you don’t want to be breathing in.
Wash less, moisturize more
Your skin has protective peptides that help to prevent skin infections. Soap and hot water can strip away these antimicrobial peptides, says Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip. After you wash your hands, always lock in moisture with a skin protectant like Vaseline, Vaniply, or even Gold Bond. These products can help keep your lips from drying out as well. “As a physician who has to wash my hands about 30 times a day, I can’t tell you how many tubes of Vaniply I go through!” Dr. Ip says.
We can’t stress enough the importance of moisturizing. Especially now that on average, we spend 7.4 hours staring at screens daily, the skin around your eyes screams for attention, and the dryness and lines that develop won’t reverse easily. Estee Lauder’s new DayWear Eye Cooling Anti-Oxidant Moisture GelCreme ($40) quenches the thirst. Its cucumber extract and Super Anti-Oxidant Complex can help tame puffiness and dullness and fight free-radical damage. Plus, it’s fragrance free.
Sunscreen at your computer screen
If you sit near a window, wear an SPF30 sunscreen every day, even if you aren’t going outside. Ultraviolet rays are pouring through that window. The best thing you can do for your skin is to consistently cleanse with a gentle cleanser, apply moisturizer, and use sunscreen.
Wear sunscreen every single day, Dr. Ip says. “In the wintertime, I recommend SPF 30. The easiest way to get this is to use a moisturizer with sunscreen such as CeraVe AM lotion. During the summer, I recommend SPF 50. My favorite brand is Avene. It’s lightweight and won’t leave a white residue on your skin.”
Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen throughout the day. Dr. Ip tells us, “If you are worried about destroying your makeup with a layer of sunscreen, try mineral makeup with SPF. My go-to brand is Colorescience.”
Get it off
As important as it is to coat yourself in protective moisturizers, it is just as vital to get the excess off. Not doing so could create problems, such as acne and other irritations.
Going to sleep with a dirty face is one of the worst things you can do for your skin. Not only does makeup clog your pores, there is dirt, bacteria, and other grime that will also end up trapped. This is the perfect recipe for acne and premature aging, says Dr. Ip.
“As soon as I come from work, I wash my face and apply my evening skin care products,” she says. “Unless you have excessively dry skin, you should be washing your face with a gentle cleanser twice a day.”
Air conditioners pump dry, cold air that can lead to dry, itchy skin, even dermatitis. Stepping outside even for a few minutes during the day can help a lot. But be sure to have proper moisturizer ready when you return.
Whether it’s hot or cold outside, your skin should always be moisturized. Moisturizer is vital to helping your skin function optimally, which helps protect against irritation, rashes, and acne.
When you do get a chance to step outside, don’t forget your sunglasses. They’ll help to prevent squinting, which can lead to wrinkles around your eyes.
Disinfect without dryness
Offices are breeding grounds for germs. One head cold can quickly infect everyone within sneezing distance—thus the popularity of hand sanitizers. Although these may keep the flu away, they will dry your hands to a crackling mess in no time. Even if you are only wiping down your keyboard and other surfaces, handling these chemicals can quickly dry out hands, so keep a lotion nearby.
When you are looking and feeling your best, you’ll have the confidence to do your best work. Joining a professional networking organization can help you connect with like-minded women. Monthly in-person meetings or virtual webinars provide an opportunity to learn and grow while also staying connected to other professional women.