I Asked A Derm How To Protect My Skin For An Office Job, & She Gave Me 3 Game-Changing Tips

office skin

Have you ever come back from a holiday with phenomenally glowing skin? It’s kind of crazy what spending a few weeks (or days, if you’re rationing your annual leave) free from commuting in stuffy trains, sending emails while crouched over a dusty desk and stress can do for us.

It’s almost powerful enough to make you want to draft up a resignation email and indulge in a life free from squinting under fluorescent lights for good. But alas, there are bills to be paid — so it’s probably best to figure out how to deal with these things, rather than quit out of frustration.

Having worked in an office for the better part of my adult life, I can’t help but wonder how the years of battling elements like temperamental office heaters (AKA, the most dedicated skin moisture suckers on the planet) may have impacted my skin.

So, to get some insight, I spoke to GP dermatologist Dr Alicia Teska from Skin Temple about how things like blue light exposure, air conditioning and other ~office related~ conditions can age and damage our skin, and how to minimise the effects of it all.

How does blue light exposure impact the skin?

According to Teska, blue light emits from “the sun, a UV/tanning lamp, an LED light device, or an electronic device such as a computer monitor.”

It’s funny how we are so concerned about phone usage, yet so many of us stare at a computer screen all day, five days a week, almost 50 weeks a year, for 25-30 years. That’s around 11, 250 hours spent squinting at a screen with blue light reflecting on you.

Teska explained that the signs of blue light damage may include chronic pigmentation or excessive wrinkling. If you’re looking to firm up your skin, bakuchiol (an alternative to retinol if you have sensitive skin) could be the ingredient you’re looking for in NIVEA’s Cellular Lift range. It also has micro and macro hyaluronic acid to help rehydrate and smooth your skin. You can use a day or night cream, followed by the serum, to help lock in the active ingredients.

But what actually are active ingredients? Admittedly, I always see them on packaging, but I still don’t know what they are. According to Dr. Cara McDonald, director of Complete Skin Specialists, “an active ingredient is a chemical that we know exerts a biological influence on the skin or the skin health.” Examples of active ingredients mentioned above include hyaluronic acid or bakuchiol, which is a natural active ingredient.

How does air conditioning impact the skin?

We’ve all had a double take in the bathroom mirror at the end of the day when a shrivelled-up Voldemort stares back at you after you’ve been blasted with the air conditioning all day.

According to Anthony Rossi, an M.D., board-certified dermatologist in the US, “both air-conditioning and heating systems dry out your skin.” Lian Mack, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in the US, also stated that, “the decreased(/increased) humidity in the atmosphere dehydrates the skin, making it dryer.”

One way to help restore moisture to your skin is with hyaluronic acid. NIVEA’s Cellular Filler range has both micro and macro acids. Pure folic acid, another ingredient in the day cream, night cream, and serum, can help plump and restore bounce.

How does reduced circulation impact the skin?

We’ve all experienced that gluggy feeling after typing at a desk all day, with no motivation to exercise after a day’s work. (And let’s face it, who’s getting up even earlier to work out???)

But, according to this study, without the circulation that exercising creates, our skin loses out on being delivered essential nutrients and oxygen. This is why doing things like scheduling a little stretch break every 30 minutes, getting up for a lunchtime walk, or even opting to walk home can be game changers for our skin’s health. (Psst, tell your boss that your coffee break is actually essential to your health.)

I hope this helps your case for more breaks and working from home days, as it’s a basic right for your skin health, after all.