Want to soothe your stress-worn skin? Try these at-home tips from experts

(Ross May / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

Minimizing breakouts or combating wrinkles hardly seems important now given the global health pandemic. However, putting on a clay-based beauty mask at home or making sure your skin is properly hydrated might just be the welcomed distraction you need from the challenging pandemic news of the day.

Keep in mind, though, you likely don’t have spa-level equipment at home or general expertise to do Botox injections or extractions. What you can do now is create a strong skin-care regimen with do-it-yourself solutions as well as advice from estheticians and dermatologists, who are offering skin-care videos on social media and FaceTime consultations with patients.

New York- and Dallas-based esthetician Joanna Czech and esthetician Shani Darden of Los Angeles, among others, are regularly posting advice on social media or taking questions from Instagram followers.


“I think one of the most important things is not to manically switch up your skin-care regimen and/or impulse-buy new products,” said Lena Bratschi, founder of Carasoin, a West Hollywood day spa and skin clinic frequented by Michelle Williams, Rooney Mara, Sofia Vergara and Eva Mendes.

“We’re currently in a period of stress and uncertainty,” Bratschi said, “so switching it up or using unknown products is likely to be counterproductive. Stick with the routine and products that have been working for your skin. Take this time for your skin to recharge. Don’t wear makeup. Let your skin breathe.”

Here, more notable names in the world of beauty offer advice, tips, tools and techniques for maintaining a solid skin-care regimen during the COVID-19 era.

Here’s celebrity manicurist Tom Bachik’s advice for removing a gel manicure and more at home.

April 6, 2020

Try to avoid added stress

This may be impossible given medical and financial uncertainty in the world, but it’s something estheticians emphasize. With stress on the rise in most households, it’s a major culprit in dulling the look and quality of your skin, experts say.

“Because of added stressors, it is essential to stay hydrated, meditate, take deep breaths for 10 minutes and get skin and body oxygenated,” said L.A.-based esthetician Mila Moursi, who treats Jennifer Aniston and Chelsea Handler. “Don’t be aggressive with your skin. During these challenging times, skin needs even more tender loving care because skin feels stress just like you do.”


Darden, whose clients include Shay Mitchell, Jessica Alba and Emmy Rossum, advises clients to “eat whole, unprocessed foods and limit processed foods. What you eat can show up on your skin in the form of breakouts and overall dull skin. Focus on nourishing your body from the inside out and staying active to help counteract stress and limit inflammation, which will show up on your skin.”

Stress can also cause flare-ups of acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and hair loss. “Maintaining some normalcy with your [morning and evening] skin-care routines can mitigate some of that stress,” said Dr. Nancy Samolitis, co-founder and medical director of Facile, a skin-care studio in West Hollywood.

Darden suggests trying a streamlined at-home regimen and keeping a dedicated routine. “Professional treatments can have a great effect on your skin, but home care is even more important to keep skin glowing and healthy,” she said. “I also recommend doing a quick at-home facial once or twice a week to brighten the skin. Start with a gentle cleanser like Cleansing Serum to thoroughly cleanse the skin without stripping it.”

Before you dive in, there’s a critical first step for any at-home beauty routines especially now. Wash your hands thoroughly. The World Health Organization has cautioned everyone to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth as a basic guideline to avoid contracting the coronavirus.

After washing your hands first and then your face, you’ll want to exfoliate your skin, she said. “I love the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha-Beta Peel Pads ... to remove the layer of dead skin on the surface and clear out congestion in your pores. After exfoliating, use a Garnier SkinActive Sheet Mask to deeply hydrate the skin.

“Follow up with a hyaluronic acid serum like Dr. Nigma’s Serum No 1 to plump up the skin with hydration and finish with a great moisturizer for your skin type,” she said. “Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer is a great option for those with normal-to-oily skin, and Garnier’s Water Rose 24H Moisture Cream is great for those with dry skin.”

Lean into extra self-care

Now is the time to combat what esthetician Danné Montague-King, founder of Santa Fe Springs-based DMK Skincare, calls “stay-at-home skin.” Signs of stay-at-home skin include tired-looking eyes, sagging skin around the jowls and appearance of sallow, colorless skin, he said. “These are all signs of decreased blood-flow due to a lack of movement and exposure to sunlight, which helps the body produce Vitamin D.”

He advises contacting your skin-care professional, many of whom offer home versions of their in-clinic masks. “Check with your local esthetician or dermatologist and ask about what masks they are shipping to their clients right now,” Montague-King said.

Other experts emphasize the importance of implementing facial massage as part of your routine. “Take time to massage your facial muscles and to create lymphatic drainage that eliminates impurities from the skin,” Moursi said.

Gua sha (pronounced gwah-shah) facial massagers, for example, are designed to release tension in the facial muscles and stimulate lymphatic drainage. Also, pricier tools such as the Gold Bar from Jillian Dempsey, a 24-karat vibrating bar meant to tone and lift the skin, can be effective for massaging the face and creating more circulation.

New York-based esthetician Sofie Pavitt has been having Instagram Live at-home facials on Sundays at 3 p.m. Pacific. She said she “loves facial massage and gua sha tools to release tension and fascia in the facial muscles, which can have a sculpting effect [and feel great too].”

“You can also do what the French call pincement jaquet by pinching the jawline and moving back and forth from the chin up toward the ear 10 times,” Moursi said. “Massage the cheeks with your knuckles in circular movements, moving toward the ears. Massage the forehead using two flat fingers, crisscrossing them across the forehead from side to side, and moving upward from the eyebrows to the hairline.”

Tammy Fender, an esthetician based in West Palm Beach, Fla., said extra self-care is sometimes about doing less. “It isn’t always about extra. Usually it’s about asking the skin to do less, allowing the skin to rest,” she said. “One two-step practice that might feel especially good right now is trying an herbal steam using fresh or dried rosemary or a drop of eucalyptus essential oil in the bottom of a bowl filled with hot water — just letting the steam rise and soften the skin.”

Fender said then apply a rich clay-based treatment mask, which can be worn as you relax for 10 minutes. “I love using that time while the mask sets as a real pause, finding a cozy spot just to tuck in and relax,” she said.

Pro hair colorists and stylists in L.A. offer tips and tricks on how to best tend to hair growth during quarantine.

March 31, 2020

Don’t try this

Doing extractions or aggressive exfoliation or trying a chemical peel on your own are big no-no’s when it comes to at-home skin care.

“It’s not a great time to get a rash from an allergic reaction, an infection from that at-home micro-needle tool or a scar from trying to do your own extractions,” Samolitis said.

Moursi agreed. “For the safety of your skin, don’t attempt to do treatments that only a licensed professional should be doing,” she said. “For example, avoid doing extractions and avoid chemical peels, which can be very harsh on your skin.”