Who better to ask about winding down after a stressful day, sleep-inducing beauty favourites and the best products for over-washed hands and maskne, than Louise O’Connell - a truly inspiring (and beauty-obsessed) emergency department nurse who has been working on the frontline…
Life As A Nurse
I have been working as a nurse for 19 years. In my early years, I was lucky enough to work as an aesthetic nurse offering various skin treatments to patients before then working in an operating theatre with some incredible plastic surgeons and dermatologists. It was here that my love of beauty and skincare really began and I launched my website in 2017, so I could share what I had learned over the years and make beauty approachable for everyone. I wanted to use my platform to talk about my go-to products but to also show that pores, lines and imperfections are normal. Today, I work as a nurse in the emergency department (where I have been for the past five years), so it’s now a way for me to keep my finger on the pulse and keep connected to what’s happening in the beauty world.
Battling Covid On The Front Line
Covid has had a huge impact on my role as an emergency nurse over the past year and staying calm under pressure has become even more important. Working in the only Level 1 Trauma Centre in Ireland means that every day is different depending on where I am assigned. The responsibility as a triage nurse is huge as I have to be able to spot the potential that a patient could become really unwell. Other days, I work in the resuscitation room with critically ill patients and more recently, I have been working within Covid departments. It’s really challenging but I wouldn’t change my job for all the lipsticks in Tom Ford’s warehouse!
When it comes to my own beauty routine, the increased PPE has meant my skincare and makeup has become a lot simpler and lighter. Under the mask, I wear the bare minimum to help prevent breakouts and irritation. I am extra vigilant with skincare and have had to change several products in my routine to combat the effects of being masked-up for 14 hours a day.
Combatting Over-Washed Hands & Maskne
I’ve always been an advocate for double cleansing so that hasn’t changed, but I do exfoliate a lot more using gentle, enzyme-based products to keep my pores clear. Oskia Liquid Mask Lactic Acid Micro-peel, £65.00 has become my favourite as it’s fragrance-free and helps to hydrate my skin. My under-eye area has also been suffering due to the placement of our face masks and I’m sure I see a new wrinkle every day. I make sure I use an eye cream with retinol in like Kate Somerville +Retinol Firming Eye Cream, £74.00 which not only helps to tackle fine lines but it also brightens and is packed with hyaluronic acid to keep moisture locked in.
Another side effect is dry hands due to the endless hand washing. I always keep a hand cream in my work bag and uniform pockets. For me, Kiehl's Ultimate Strength Hand Salve, £16.00 works wonders and is so soothing. I reapply throughout the day and on my breaks. In the evening, I like to use a more powerful product such as Ameliorate Intensive Hand Treatment, £15.00, which helps to prevent cracked skin and keep my skin barrier healthy and hydrated.
De-Stressing After A Hectic Shift
Sometimes the exhaustion after a long shift is overwhelming. It’s a complete sensory overload and when I get home, I need time to decompress. My shower and skin cleansing routines are the first signal to my mind that my work day is over. I try to imagine that the water is clearing or draining away my negative thoughts and feelings. Switching off is a mental struggle, which is why I work hard to adopt habits that trigger the end of a work day. I love balm cleansers like Eve Lom Cleanser, £40.00 and spend a few minutes massaging this all over my face and neck. Facial massage is great for relieving tension and I often find that my jaw is really tight after clenching all day. I then follow with a shower gel that feels like a treat, which is usually the This Works Deep Sleep Shower Gel, £18.00. Post-shower, I finish with a super hydrating body cream such as Susanne Kaufmann Body Butter, £56.00 before climbing into clean pjs and enjoying some time with my family.
Getting to sleep and having a good night’s rest used to be a struggle until I found what worked for me. I try to switch off all electrical devices by 10pm and practice deep breathing exercises while choosing three things I am grateful for each day. I always make sure the temperature in my room is just right and not too warm or too cold. I swear by the This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray, £19.50 and keep it by my bedside at all times. As soon as I smell it, my brain automatically switches to sleep mode. I also wear an eye mask every night to block out light - the Slip Silk Sleep Mask, £50.00 are excellent quality and so soft on the skin.