Image credit: Instagram/@penelopecruzofficial

“I think we’re all going a bit of a shitty skin patch” said Zoe Foster Blake to her 754,000 Instagram followers the other day. She’s right. We are. Google “isolation skin” and your browser will turn up thousands of results. So WTF is going on? Is there not enough bad in the world right now? But the truth is change is weird and it can be challenging. And our face feels it too. Know that if you’re congested, red, broken out, sensitive or flaky, you’re not alone. Celebrities aren’t even immune! Em Rata is out here asking for skincare advice, just like the rest of us. It might be stress-related, diet (a wheel of cheese for dinner is fine, right?????), lack of sleep, anxiety, less time spent outside, trying new products, skipping products… whatever it is, it’s okay. But there’s also products that will offer a little respite (if you want it). See our expert-approved edit below.

Problem: Breakouts

Chronic acne is a condition on its own, but if your usually clear-ish skin is suddenly going haywire, there’s little steps you can take that might help. PhD-qualified scientist Dr. Michele Squire explains that acne can be caused by a myriad of factors, diet and lifestyle included. So try your best to take care of yourself, get sleep, eat well, move your body and drink water. Outside of this, look for gentle products that contain a BHA like salicylic acid. Or, if it’s just a handful of pimples, employ the powers of a pimple patch – they’ll treat quickly and effectively without the need to integrate ingredients and steps into your routine.

Zitsticka Killa Microdart Patch, $40. SHOP NOW

This is not a normal pimple patch, but instead uses micro-dart technology to transport blemish-busting ingredients (like salicylic acid and niacinamide) into the site. Apply overnight and wake to clearer, smoother skin.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+, $32. SHOP NOW

This dermatologist-loved treatment uses niacinamide and salicylic acid to decongest pores without over-drying. Use it a few nights a week either on its own, or under moisturiser.

Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, $38. SHOP NOW

This chemical exfoliant comes recommended by Dr. Squire as an effective way to gently slough off dead skin and eliminate pore clogging bacteria. Like the above, it contains salicylic acid as the hero ingredient.

Problem: Redness And Irritation

According to Desiree Stordahl, Paula’s Choice Senior Research and Education Manager, there is a real link between stress and skin issues: “Psychological stress can signal an increase in inflammatory substances in skin, while simultaneously decreasing the calming peptides that the brain would normally release. This can make skin look older by weakening its support structure.” She suggests treating skin gently, eliminating anything fragranced and looking for products that replenish skin’s weakened barrier. Omega fatty acids from plant oils like flax, chia, and hemp are great, alongside calming plants and non-fragranced oils.

Avene Antirougeurs Fort Relief Concentrate, $42. SHOP NOW

This incredibly gentle, no-rinse cleanser will be a calming treat for anyone who is finding their face suddenly feels tight, sore, hot or red. It’s loaded with thermal spring water, and just needs to be massaged into dry skin and tissued off. If this and a calming moisturiser or oil is all you can manage, that’s great.

111Skin Y Theorem Bio Cellulose Face Mask, $42. SHOP NOW

If a treatment is more your thing while you spend time at home, this new launch from science-backed 111Skin is a dream. It uses the brand’s signature NAC y2 complex – an antioxidant compound that was originally used to protect astronauts in the harsh conditions involved in space travel. Wear it for 20 minutes and you’ll find skin that’s smoother and calmer thanks to a reinforced barrier.

Go-To Face Hero, $45. SHOP NOW

This clean formula from Australian brand Go-To is packed with omega threes thanks to a delicious blend of plant and nut oils. Press into skin after cleansing.

Problem: Dryness 

For dry skin, consider adding concentrated doses of hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and ceramides to your routine, explains Stordahl. Because dry skin lacks oil, adding a rich, emollient face oil into your routine can be a saving grace too. Avoiding searing hot showers, apply skincare onto damp skin directly after cleansing, and incorporating foods like avocado and oily fish will all help too.

Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum, $270. SHOP NOW

Not exactly a spur of the moment isolation purchase, but this face oil/serum hybrid is the creme de la creme of facial products. It’s an active, nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory oil made using a similar process that occurs during wine making (April, the brand’s founder, comes from wine making). Loaded with fatty acids, it will nourish, hydrate and brighten skin like nothing else. Follow the brand’s push/press technique to apply.

CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum, $30. SHOP NOW

This drugstore pick is a triple threat: ceramides to maintain barrier function and protect moisture levels, hyaluronic acid to draw moisture into the skin, and vitamin B5 to soothe. It’s cheap and cheerful but incredibly effective. Praise be for drugstore skincare.