As parts of the world enter a new post-lockdown normality, face masks have become the ultimate and necessary accessory. Keeping us safe from respiratory particles transmitted through the air and protecting others from asymptomatic carriers, there are however a few downsides. For many, the main less desirable side effects that are quite literally popping up, arrive with problematic skin.
“Any fabric that rubs against your skin may lead to friction and irritation,” says skincare expert Rebecca Treston. “Also, oil, sweat, dirt, and makeup can build up under the fabric, which can lead to rashes or even acne breakouts, especially in areas where the mask directly comes in contact with your skin. In addition, there’s the fact that you’re trapping your own breath and creating a warm, moist environment, making skin susceptible to breakouts and irritation. But there are measures you can take to keep your skin a break-out free zone,” she adds.
Consider the fabric of your mask. Avoid synthetic materials and choose something soft and natural like cotton.
Give your makeup some time off. If you can, it’s a good idea to let your skin breathe when wearing a mask out and about. Makeup can rub against the fabric of the mask and can cause further occlusion of oil glands and pores, potentially making breakouts worse. Ditch your foundation and instead focus on a cool eye shadow if you still want to play with makeup.
Shelf any strong cleansers or exfoliators for now. Harsh facial cleansers can disrupt the outer skin layer, leading to dryness and inflammation. This makes it more likely that you’ll develop irritation from a mask that’s on your face. If you’re experiencing breakouts already, add salicylic acid to your routine. Using a cleanser that contains salicylic acid is great as the acid cleans deep inside your pores to reduce excess oils and sebum.
Cleanse your face as soon as you take off your mask. This will kill off any acne-causing bacteria every time you remove your mask.
Ease rubbing with a barrier cream. Keep an extra-close eye on your skin since it might need special care after using a mask. If you’re breaking out, focus on spot treatments and acne cleansers, and if you’re developing a rash or dryness, look for healing, soothing products. If you’re prone to irritation apply a thick barrier cream before wearing your mask to prevent rubbing and focus on calming balms and oils instead of powerful actives.