What is ISO Skin-How to Fix It

Iso Skin Image

Lockdown is tough enough without wondering why your skin has suddenly turned on you. Dry patches? Breakouts?  ISO-Skin is real and it’s getting the best of us!

We’re wearing less make-up and getting less sun exposure, our skin should be loving this time. Here’s why isolation might be wreaking havoc on your skin and what you can do about it!

Whether it’s juggling home schooling with working from home, missing family and friends or just the general uncertainty that lockdown has brought many of us are feeling the weight of this last 18 months. Did you know stress can affect your skin? There are a few ways in which this happens …

  1. Stress triggers inflammation
    One of the physical responses to stress can be slowed digestion in the gut, this allows for an overgrowth of unhealthy strains of bacteria and disrupts the natural balance. This in turn causes an increase in permeability of the intestines, which triggers inflammation. This inflammation can manifest as angrier, more painful breakouts that take longer to heal or it can manifest as flare ups of existing conditions like psoriasis or eczema.
  2. Stress increases cortisol production
    Cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands and released into the bloodstream as part of the stress response; high levels of cortisol are associated with prolonged stress. High levels of cortisol trigger our sebaceous glands to produce more oil. As we know excess oil can clog pores and cause breakouts.
  3. Anxiety
    One of the physical manifestations of stress is anxiety; this can lead to picking or scratching at the skin. This is something called Excoriated acne, acne caused by scratching or picking and is found to be more common in times of stress and anxiety.
  4. Weakened Immune System
    As mentioned earlier, stress hormones are dispersed through out the body, this can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system and the inflammatory response. The effect of which can be a delay in healing of existing lesions and make people more susceptible to sensitivity and rashes.

Isolation means a lot of time indoors, and in Melbournes’ dry winter that often means with heating or artificial air. Dehydration doesn’t always mean the skin isn’t getting enough moisture, it often means it is having trouble holding on to it.  When moisture is lacking or stripped from the skin a few different problems can arise.

  1. Barrier Impairment
    First and foremost our skin is a barrier, built to protect us. An important part of that barrier is our intercellular lipids, holding the different elements of the skin together and providing necessary oils. When any of these elements are depleted or compromised not only can unwanted particles get in and cause inflammation or sensitivity but it also leads to a loss of moisture that was being kept in, which presents as dry or dull skin.
  2. Uneven Penetration of Products
    If the skin is dehydrated or the barrier impaired, depending on your skin care regime, your products may further aggravate the skin. As mentioned earlier the skins job is protection, if that protective layer is compromised your products may penetrate deeper than intended, in some areas more than others, causing rashes or inflammation or further stripping away the skin.
  3. Delayed healing
    Simply put, skin needs slip to heal. Cells migrate and proliferate across a wound, with the skin is dry this process is interrupted or delayed. Delayed healing can in some cases lead to scarring or post-inflammatory pigmentation.

Skin Care
We have discussed before that your skin care regime isn’t always absolute. It can change in different times of the year, or different conditions. Winter in Melbourne brings it’s own issues for our skin and we often recommend different products during that time. With the added impact isolation brings this may bring further tweaks to your skin care recommendation.


Is your chin, lower cheeks or jaw line getting the brunt of it? Masks mean this area is almost in its own climate, of heat and bacteria from the mouth. You combine this with an impaired barrier letting everything in and you can get some very mean breakouts and irritation.

How to combat ISO Skin

1. Stress Relief

This one is most important! Find what brings you calm. Whether it be meditation, journaling, exercise (which as well as stress relief provides to skin with lovely oxygen rich blood!) or even just taking a small amount of time each day to focus on yourself! Some suggestions we’ve come up with are …

  • Decrease screen time, there is a lot going on right now, and not a huge amount of it is positive news, give yourself a break from absorbing it all.
  • Make and execute plans – we know this one is tough in such uncertain times. But this can be something as small as a walk to the beach or a take away coffee.
  • Stay Active! Not only will this relax you but it can benefit the skin too.
  • Keep connected to friends and family! Zoom cocktails and trivia nights can be a lovely way to end the week.
  • Focus on the positive. Take a moment every day to focus on the positives. Consume something light hearted or cheerful, this can be a podcast, a guilty pleasure on Netflix or a YouTube deep dive of puppy videos!
  • Set a routine, a stick to it. This can give the long lockdown days some purpose and help you feel productive.

2. Barrier Repair / Hydration

An impaired barrier often needs two things: Regulation and Protection. First and foremost we recommend a good Niacinamide and often a good moisturiser. Below are a few of our favourite products to regulate and repair an impaired barrier..

Southern Cosmetics Private Label Niacinamide

  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Regulates oil production
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Provides protection from pigmentation
  • Repairs barrier function
  • Decreases trans-epidermal water loss to keep the skin hydrated and healthy

Universkin Custom Serum
We can create a customised serum that is both nourishing and restorative with our doctor only range Universkin. Based in a patented Peptide and Omega 3 rich emulsion we can add a variety of ingredients that work specifically toward your skin concerns, some of which might be…

  • Aloe Vera
  • Niacinamide
  • Vitamin B5
  • Madecassoside
  • Rutin
  • Super Oxyde Dismutase

SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5

  • Super hydrating formulation
  • Light weight
  • Assists in repair and rejuvenation
  • Soothes redness and inflammation
  • Leaves skin feeling supple and smooth
  • Hyaluronic Acid plumps and hydrates fine lines and wrinkles
  • Ideal for all skin types

SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid

  • Restores essential skin lipids: ceramides, natural cholesterol, and fatty acids
  • Improves the look of skin fullness, texture, and pore appearance
  • Improves the appearance of skin evenness and overall radiance
  • Provides improved hydration in 24 hours, ideal for dry skin
  • Unique stabilisation system in a lightweight and fast-absorbing texture

Synergie DermaCalm

  • Anti-inflammatory moisturiser for sensitive skin
  • Calms, strengthens and soothes
  • Neutralises skin redness
  • Reduces discomfort of itch, heat and irritation

Nexulatra Range

  • Peptide enriched
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Designed to nourish and repair
  • Rich in Omega 3
  • Rebalances and restores hyrolipidic barrier

3. Skin Care

We need to adjust your skin care to suit what’s going on with your skin. Whether this be by adding something restorative and maybe decreasing the use of acids, or even increasing acids to assist with exfoliation. It may be by switching up your moisturiser based on how often you are wearing a mask or where you are spending more of your time at the moment (indoors/outdoors). Although the clinic is closed for cosmetic treatments we are here! Send us an email with your skin concerns and what you are using, we will help you navigate your way through the fog that is Iso-Skin!



Author: Nela Plecic, Dermal Therapist