How The Pandemic Changed The Way These 5 Women Look At Their Skin

With countries around the world operating under shelter-at-home orders, a few not-so-surprising trends have emerged, particularly for those of us who are fortunate enough to spend extra time at home: collective Netflix binging, virtual hangouts, and the return of sock curls. But what we couldn't have anticipated was a surge in people learning to embrace not only their natural hair, but their bare skin, too.

Over the past several weeks, women have taken to social media to share stories of how they're building a more positive relationship with their skin at home or as essential workers, blemishes and all. Some are finding the courage to go on video calls for work with zero concealer; others are realizing that, amid all the bigger problems in this world right now, acne is just, well, acne.

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In light of these conversations, we spoke to five women — from Texas to the United Kingdom — about how their attitude toward their skin has evolved since COVID-19 changed the way we all experience the world.

Ely Cuberos in New York City

Before The Pandemic:
I used concealer religiously to cover my dark circles, and I would also wear tinted moisturizer or pore-reducing products. As a medical scribe, work has become overwhelming with the numerous patients we've been seeing. So, I decided to trade in makeup for getting more sleep in the mornings.

During The Pandemic:
At first, it made me uncomfortable to not wear makeup, because I couldn't recall the last time I went out in public in my bare skin. During this pandemic, I realized there were more things to worry about than covering my imperfections and learned to embrace them. They make me who I am. Now, I feel comfortable in flaunting my imperfections. I can't remember the last time I looked at myself in the mirror and disliked what I saw. I always managed to pinpoint what I hated, but never what I loved — I can confidently say that once this is all over, that will not be case.
Sophie in York, England

Before The Pandemic:
Although I suffer from mild acne and a lot of people have it worse than me, I deal with my breakouts whenever they come and cover them in heavy makeup until they disappear. When I came home for a week for my sister's birthday, little did I know lockdown would force me to stay longer and I had only packed a little bit of makeup. In a weird way, I saw this as an opportunity. But I was excited because I wanted my skin to get better and not being in public gatherings weirdly provided that — because my main insecurity about my skin is what other people think of it. Only being around my family, I didn’t feel so insecure about not wearing any makeup.

During The Pandemic:
Now, I have time for my skin. I actually think about cleaning my face before bed and in the morning I’ve been able to establish a skin-care routine. I’ve actually started to notice how much healthier it looks. Yes, sometimes I put makeup on during this quarantine for a little boost — I’ll always love wearing makeup — but I’ve learnt to embrace my skin and take better care of it. I hope if I carry on taking care of it, I’ll feel less insecure about being bare-faced.
Rena Gibbs in Austin, Texas

Before The Pandemic:

To give myself some extra pizzazz in the mornings, I'd usually throw on some eye makeup, blush, and concealer for discoloration. At the beginning of this quarantine, I thought: "What's the point of trying to cover it up if no one is going to see you?"

During The Pandemic:
Makeup is expensive, so I'm not going to use it for the sake of looking cute for a 50-minute Zoom call with 20 other people. C'est la vie. Bad skin is now the least of my worries.
Hannah Rimm in New York City

Before The Pandemic:
Last year, my partner was in a coma in the hospital for three months, and for the first time in my life, I got cystic acne — which my dermatologist diagnosed as hormonal stress acne. I tried different treatments and my skin started to clear up, but I still got small breakouts the week leading up to my period. I've also had psoriasis my whole life. While makeup serves as self-expression, and I really love a colorful eye and bold lip, I've also used it to cover my acne and psoriasis — especially once I started wearing it more in the last three years. But it felt weird to put makeup on just to be at home during quarantine, so I stopped wearing any.

During The Pandemic:
Since COVID-19 began, I've definitely had another round of stress breakouts and my skin is back to being covered in acne. I've gotten used to looking at my face with breakouts at this point, so it's easier to embrace it. I just don't care as much about it — I don't feel self-conscious at all. Before the quarantine, I wouldn't post an Instagram photo without a filter to cover my acne. Now, I'm posting selfies and saying things like, "Look at my acne, who else is stress breaking out?" In the future, I think I'd deal with going out bare-faced if I woke up late, but I miss the self-expression of makeup, so I don't think I'll stop wearing it completely.
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Kylie in Garland, Texas

Before The Pandemic:

I've struggled with bad acne, frequent breakouts, and acne scarring since freshman year of high school, but things started getting really bad sophomore year — my entire cheek area is usually red with breakout scars. I usually cover up my breakouts with concealer for school, and it’s been a huge insecurity for me. In the past, this has caused me to want to stay in and not hang out with my friends at times.

During The Pandemic:
Now that I’m not wearing makeup everyday, I’ve seen my skin more and it’s becoming normal for me. Spending time in isolation has let me stop comparing myself to others. I’m starting to realize acne is completely normal and not something that necessarily needs to be covered up. I just don’t see my skin as my biggest issue. Acne isn’t something that makes you uglier or more attractive, it’s just acne. My skin doesn’t have to be perfect, but it’s in no way flawed, and I don't have a reason to not to be comfortable in it.
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