‘Maskne’. The term that seems to be becoming ever more common place since wearing face masks became a way of life in 2020.
Firstly, I would like to say that if you are wearing your face mask whenever you are out and about then a round of applause for you! I believe we all need to be doing our bit now, and if wearing a little piece of fabric over our nose and mouth can play even a small part in containing this virus that has taken over the world, then why wouldn’t we. The best part is, there are some really beautiful ones available now to accessorise your outfits too – bonus!
Anyway, back to the topic at hand… So wearing these masks, albeit essential, is beginning to wreak havoc on our skin! Each week I have clients coming in with breakouts on their lower cheeks, jawlines and chin area where they wouldn’t normally get it. Also dryness around the cheekbones/under eye area where masks can rub is getting very common too.
Is this something you’ve been experiencing? Me too…
So why is this happening…?
There could be a few factors at play here and it’s important to have a good think about your lifestyle, general skincare routine and environment when trying to figure out what you might be able to do to help prevent this ‘mask-induced acne’.
There are some obvious reasons why our masks will be causing havoc with our skins, but what we want are solutions… so I’ve listed some tips below to try and help.
PROBLEM – ‘We’re not allowing enough fresh air and daylight to get to our skins’
As a lot of you may have found during lockdown, our skins can suffer more than we realise by simply not being exposed to the outdoors. I know sometimes the weather and harsh elements can have a detrimental effect on our skin (i.e. cold winds can dry out your skin and cause sensitivity), but we do actually need regular fresh air and sunlight to help keep our skin healthy. By having the lower half of our faces covered every time we leave our homes, this is of course impacted massively.
SOLUTION – Now for obvious reasons, this is a tough one to solve. We must wear our masks whenever we are in a place that requires them. However if you can remember to take it off as soon as it is safe and suitable to do so (i.e. when you get in your car, get home etc), wip it straight off and cleanse your skin! Now if you’re at home, this is easy! However if you’re sat in your car after doing the food shop then perhaps not so much. Here’s one little trick I have found to work – Decant some of your face cleanser into a small travel size tub/bottle and some of your moisturiser into another, which can stay in your car (I would only pop up to a weeks worth in there as it wouldn’t be advised to leave it in your car for longer than that with the changing temperatures through the day and night). Then, before you head out dampen a lovely soft face towel (which we should all be using to remove make up/cleanse anyway, right?). Pop said face towel into a tupperware box or sealable freezer type bag. When you get into your car, carefully take off your mask and sanitise your hands. Then, if you can, give your sanitiser a minute to absorb, before popping a ‘pea’ sized amount of cleanser onto your hands and gently cleansing the lower part of your face. Once you have done this for 1-2 mins, simply get your pre-dampened face towel and gently remove the cleanser. Apply a small amount of moisturiser and voila! Your skin is refreshed and good to go!
PROBLEM – ‘Friction on the skin where the materials can rub’
Us skin specialists have been advising clients since the dawn of time to PLEASE STOP TOUCHING YOUR FACE! But never has this been more true before now, when it is also an essential step to help stop transmission of the dreaded COVID-19 virus. In terms of the skin’s response to friction, you will very quickly begin to see an inhibition of your skin’s lipid barrier (the protective barrier of your skin), which in turn of course effects the barrier function and can result in dryness, sensitivity and sometimes irritation.
SOLUTION – I have found that a great way to avoid the friction of the mask creating dryness and irritation on your skin, is to simply apply a small amount of moisturiser, especially to the areas where you most notice it (for me its along the line where the mask goes across my nose and under my eyes/tops of cheeks). This will help to ‘stick’ your mask and minimise movement, as well as give your skin a nice little boost of product goodness.
PROBLEM – ‘Not washing fabric masks frequently enough’
We all know we should be throwing disposable masks away after each use, and washing our fabric masks each day. But the reality is not everyone is doing that. Besides the risk factors of this for spreading the COVID-19 virus, this is going to cause havoc on your skin if your are repeatedly putting on the same face mask (especially the fabric ones), day after day without washing it. It can get quite warm under those face masks, can’t it… Well imagine all of that warmth, sweat and carbon dioxide from your breath being constantly pumped into the fabric of your mask, just to be put back over your face again the next day. Not a nice thought.
SOLUTION – This one is simple. Wash your fabric face mask at the end of the day, and throw away your disposables!
PROBLEM – ‘Wearing make up under your mask’
Now this is a tricky one. While I am finding most people are wearing a lot less make up nowadays with going out less, there are of course many occasions when we would like to do full glam before going out… then have to pop our masks on.
I think it goes without saying that wearing make up under your masks is going to increase the chances of breakout activity for the same reasons it would increase if you wore your make up to bed each night *shock horror!* (PSA – PLEASE DON’T GO TO BED WITH MAKE UP ON…EVER).
SOLUTION – So how can we keep our skin fresh underneath our masks, while still being glam and ready when we take our masks off…? Well my friends, compromise is key.
This will depend on the amount coverage you like to wear of course, but my recommendation would be if you can’t keep your skin bare and apply make up when you get to where you’re going/remove it before you put your mask on (which I appreciate is going to be quite unlikely), then try applying something of a lighter coverage and more ‘skin friendly’ like a tinted moisturiser before putting your mask on, and keeping a couple of handbag essentials ready for when you get to your destination: concealer and a foundation stick. These are 2 things that are usually slimline so fit nicely into the smallest of clutch bags and are essential for any make up maintenance, regardless of mask wearing. When you arrive at your destination and it is suitable to remove your mask, pop to the bathrooms, find a mirror, wash your hands, and then grab your products. Apply your foundation and/or concealer in the way you would usually like to (I also pop small foundation and concealer brushes in my bag to make this easier and avoid touching my face), and you’re good to go.
So the moral of the story, guys and girls, is wash your face and masks as often as you can. Throughout the day is ideal, but if that’s not possible then at the very least when you get home. Hopefully this will help to play a part in preventing the onset of ‘maskne’, and give you one less thing to worry about in amongst the crazy times we now live.
As always, I hope you enjoyed reading my blog and if you have any questions or would like to know more please do pop me a message via my Contact page and I will be happy to chat to you about anything skin related 🙂
Bella Beauty Skin Centre