Prior to Covid-19, single-use masks were worn for a few hours at a time, usually during surgeries. These days wearing one throughout the day is de rigueur, especially in healthcare settings. Irritations and breakouts are some common skin issues that occur for those who have to wear protective face masks for long periods of time. If you (or a loved one) is experiencing mask-related skin issues, we have a few dermatologist-approved recommendations to keep your skin healthy and beautiful even under a mask.
Follow the Washing Ritual
Washing your face helps cleanse your skin of sweat and germs that accumulate under the mask and can cause irritation. To make this skincare ritual even more effective, follow these simple rules:
Wash your face at least twice a day, preferably after every sweat. The less sweat and microbes accumulate on the skin, the less the likelihood of imperfections.
Use alcohol-free skin care products as they contribute to irritation and dryness.
Skip the mesh sponge or washcloth as these tools trigger irritation.
Choose Skin-Right Products
Although the ritual of washing is great for all skin types, beauty products may vary depending on the condition of your skin.
Acne-Prone: Non-comedogenic beauty products that clog pores much less.
Irritated or inflamed: Petroleum jelly or products containing petroleum jelly that promote skin healing.
Dry: Deep repair cream or mask, hydrating mask, or a bio-cellulose sheet mask.
Oily: Lotions instead of creams as the latter have a higher percentage of oil and are more suitable for dry skin.
Apply a Skin Balm
To minimize chaffing and rubbing, apply a skin balm before donning your protective face mask. Reapply every 2-4 hours to keep the skin barrier properly protected. We recommend plant-based over petroleum-based balms. Botanical products offer antioxidant properties and help heal the skin.
Be Extra Gentle
Wearing a mask makes your skin more sensitive, so harsh skin care products can harm your skin. Try to minimize the use of salicylic acid, exfoliant, chemical peel, scrub, or aftershave. If you have already noticed signs of facial skin irritation, give up these products for a while completely, as they slow down its healing. Instead, Clean your face with a non-stripping cleanser and keep to a gentle skincare routine as you want your skin barrier to stay intact and strong.
Choose a Skin-Friendly Mask
The mask must have a comfortable fit. If it squeezes the face or, on the contrary, slides over it, you may experience skin irritation. In addition, with an uncomfortable fit, you will adjust the mask more often and risk transferring germs from your hands to your face.
The fabric of the mask should be natural, such as cotton. In this case, your pores continue to breathe. In contrast, synthetic fabrics such as polyester or viscose deprive the pores of this opportunity, which can lead to irritation and acne.
Keep Your Mask Clean
The mask is able to accumulate external microbes, oils from the skin and particles that you exhale. This leads to imperfections on your face. So if you choose a reusable cloth face mask, be sure to wash it after every time you go outside.
Choose a high water temperature if this does not conflict with the mask washing instructions.
Use an unscented, hypoallergenic powder to avoid additional skin irritation.
Make sure that the mask still fits snugly to the face after washing otherwise it will lose its protective function.
Let Your Skin Rest From The Mask
Prolonged wearing of the mask (6 hours or more) can lead to chronic skin irritations such as dermatitis. That is why we recommend that you take 15 minutes or more breaks for your skin every 4-5 hours if you are at home, in a car, or in places without crowds. To make these breaks safe, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before removing your mask.
Wearing a mask for hours over concealer, foundation, and powders will increase clogged pores and likely induce breakouts. In addition, if you already have mask-related imperfections, makeup can only aggravate them. No one can see what's underneath the mask anyway, best to skip makeup during this time. If you still need makeup, just focus on your eyes or use beauty products that don't cause acne or clog pores (make sure the label says so).
Modern health care requirements do not mean that you have to sacrifice the beauty of your skin. All you need to do is to slightly rethink your daily skincare routine and adapt it to the new realities. We hope that our tips will help you with this.