Who gets sick in the summer? Gia Mazur. That’s who.
Today, I just started to to feel like a person again after a late summer sinus infection. My mom, who moonlights as a living room scientist, suspects it’s due to a bout of mononucleosis I contracted at age six. Known as the “kissing disease,” I didn’t get it from too much first-grade smooching, but from drinking out of a water fountain. Turns out, another student had mono and the doctors linked it back to that. (Side note: I don’t drink out of water fountains anymore.)
Due to a secondary infection that made my neck gland swell up to the size of a grapefruit, I ended up in the pediatric unit of (then) Moses Taylor Hospital for about a week. Cathy insists this weakened my immune system but I just think it’s why I can’t think about blood work without getting lightheaded and nauseous. She has a point, though — ever since my childhood illness, if a virus, a bug or anything else is going around, I am almost certain to get it. It’s also why I need a box of tissues with me at all times and suffer from head colds in July.
The good thing is, I’m a pro at getting ready to look semi-human in between nebulizer hits, so let me help you. Here’s a few tips to look and feel better the next time you’re under the weather.
PSA: This is more for any sickness from the chest up. If you have the flu or a stomach bug, you really should just drink ginger ale (MADE WITH REAL GINGER OTHERWISE IT’S A SCAM) and sleep.
Moisture is your friend.
When you have a cold, you’re going to feel flaky and dry. All the fluids — and the tissues to clean them up — on your face will just mess your whole hydration system up. The best thing to do is stay moisturized. In the mornings, I love to use a nice hyaluronic acid serum followed by a lightweight, gel-cream or water-based moisturizer to hydrate before any kind of makeup. Unless you have a big event, stick to a light, hydrating BB or CC cream to even skin tone. Use cream-based bronzers, blushes and highlighters to melt into your skin and keep you dewy.
Go easy on the drama.
This is not the time for a bold lip. If you’re going to be wiping tissues on the lower half of your face all day, you are going to have to reapply your lip color. If you want to keep smearing MAC Cosmetics Russian Red over your lips every 15 minutes, you can. But I think it’s wasteful and it’s just going to get annoying. Save yourself the aggravation and use a nice tinted lip balm — double points if it carries added care benefits like in a Blistex, Nivea or, my baby angel, Burt’s Bees. If you suffer more from watery, itchy eyes, keep your eyes minimal and go all out on the lips. Sometimes going all out is what makes us feel better.
Pack the essentials.
If rest isn’t an option, you’ll feel better if you feel prepared. Pack an emergency sick bag for yourself filled with, but not limited to: moisturizing tissues, a saline spray for congestion, some ibuprofen (not acetaminophen — ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory and will bring down swelling in your sinuses), eye drops and hand sanitizer and a nice hand cream to combat the dryness cause by the former. Make sure to also bring a face mist with you everywhere you go to provide a cool spritz of hydration like you’re a leafy green in the produce section. Check out my favorites here.
Banish the flakes.
Don’t get it twisted: Rudolph is CUTE but you with a shiny, red (and flaky) nose maybe isn’t. Moisturizing is great but, like we’ve talked about, the product can’t penetrate if there is a layer of dead, rough skin in its way. First, give yourself an old-fashioned over-the-sink steam facial by filling it up with hot water, sticking your face close to it and draping a towel over you head. (Or you can take a hot shower.) Then, use a warm washcloth to gently exfoliate around the rough areas on or under your nose in circular motion. You have to do this for at least a few minutes for it to be effective but it’s so worth it when it’s all over. Then, COAT yourself with Aquaphor. Accutane users — who experience side effects life crazy-dry skin, lips and more — swear by it. Something about the mixture of petrolatum, lanolin and mineral oil makes Aquaphor the gold standard as far as healing chapped, cracked and severely dry skin.
Get the most of your beauty sleep.
Bedtime is the best for skin care. For one, it’s, at least, a full 8 hours when your products can sit on your skin and do their job. Second, your body works to refresh, reset and repair itself all over while you sleep. Try to do some or all of your PM routine or at least apply a night cream, oil or both to hydrate and nourish skin overnight. My go-to for dry, sick skin is Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich mixed with a few drops of Sunday Riley Juno Antioxidant + Superfood Facial Oil. Your last step would be to apply some kind of occlusive, which holds moisture in, over your very dry spots between your nose and lips. Vaseline is a good choice, but something like Aquaphor, which carries added skin care benefits since it’s a mix of petroleum jelly, mineral oil, glycerin and lanolin, would be ever better. Pop some NyQuil and wake up feeling better all over.
What are your tips and tricks to feeling and looking good while you’re sick? LET ME KNOW AT GMAZUR@TIMESSHAMROCK.COM, @GMAZURTT ON TWITTER OR @MISS.GIA.M ON INSTAGRAM.