EXPLAINER: How to look after your skin while wearing a face mask

Patrick McLoughney

Reporter:

Patrick McLoughney

Email:

patmcloughney@hotmail.com

EXPLAINER: How to look after your skin while wearing a face mask

Double cleansing every night before bed will ensure that your skin is clean and clear after wearing a mask

The ongoing Covid-19 crisis has already had such a huge impact on the way we live our lives but as we try to take steps towards resuming some manner of normality, some necessary adjustments to our daily lives have to be made.

One of which involves wearing a face mask on public transport and in places where it may be difficult to stay two metres apart from other people, such as retail stores and supermarkets.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, our social media feeds have been filled with images of front line health care workers displaying the effects on their face and skin caused by wearing medical grade face masks for hours on end, such as skin irritation, chafing, rashes and breakouts. And while most of us will not have to deal with the level of discomfort that our brave healthcare workers have had to endure, for some, having to wear a mask will result in acne flare-ups and aggravated skin conditions.

There are many ways in which wearing a mask could cause your skin to suffer, from the friction of the mask causing irritation to bacteria transferring from the mask onto your skin. 'Maskne' is the term that's been given to acne and breakouts caused by wearing a mask. If any part of the mask touches active acne, this can aggravate the acne and create more inflamed spots. In addition to breakouts, prolonged mask-wearing can also cause a multitude of other skin issues like sensitivity, soreness and flare-ups of rosacea, eczema and psoriasis.

With this in mind, I've put together some tips and solutions to combat 'maskne' and keep your skin clear and healthy while we have to continue to wear face coverings.

Pick The Right Mask

When choosing a mask, ensure that it's a good fit, large enough to cover your mouth and nose and made from a breathable fabric that's soft on the skin and non-irritating – ideally a woven cotton or washable silk. These fabrics reduce the friction of the mask on your face which should help rubbing or irritation. I'd also advise picking up a few of these so that you can rotate the masks and ensure that you are wearing a clean mask every day.

Double Cleanse

If you do get a breakout or acne as a result of wearing a face mask, treat it by using anti-inflammatory ingredients like a cleanser containing salicylic acid. This will reduce inflammation and help combat congestion. Double cleanse to remove unwanted bacteria, dirt and excess oil. If you're prone to inflammation and breakouts then you may need to invest a little more time into your skincare routine and perhaps a little more money on your products. Double cleansing every night before bed will ensure that your skin is clean and clear after wearing the mask. Use a cleansing balm, milk or oil and double up on the cleanse using warm water and a washcloth to remove unwanted bacteria.

Moisturise

If your face covering is causing sensitivity and dryness, lightweight emollients can help restore lost moisture and protect your skin from friction caused by the mask. After washing your face, try not to rub the surface, patting it dry with a clean towel rather than rubbing. Moisturise at the time to give back lost moisture to the skin. Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream is a great all-rounder (particularly good for dry skin) that offers 24 hours of lasting hydration and comes in a unique lightweight texture that is easily absorbed and non-sticky. Harnessing the power of glacial glycoprotein (sourced from sea glaciers) and squalane (a favoured ingredient in the Kiehl's laboratory, which is actually derived from olives), the formula actively boosts skin hydration, improves skin barrier function and restores natural moisture balance even in the most extreme or artificial of humidities that can dehydrate the skin.

Try A Different Kind Of Mask

A clay face mask will also give your complexion a boost so try to incorporate them into your weekly routine. They will draw out any impurities and bacteria which have surfaced onto your skin from wearing the face-covering. A clay mask is best for acne-prone skin. If you think it's a little girly then be advised that there are plenty of good options made specifically for men like the range of face masks and putty from Barber Pro available at Boots.

Add Antioxidants and Balms

If you need to use public transport on a daily basis, then you might want to think about adding some antioxidant skincare products into your rotation to keep the skin healthy and protect it against harmful pollutants and bacteria from under the mask. Vitamin C will help to keep your skin healthy and will neutralise any free radicals. It will also work to repair skin cells damaged by wearing the mask. Enter Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster for a clarified and luminous complexion.

Keep Your Mask Clean

Keeping your mask clean is vital to ensuring that your skin stays free from harmful bacteria that could cause a breakout. Change out your mask every day and make sure to remove it on any occasion where you aren't required to wear it. Wash your masks in the washing machine on a hot setting with a good detergent.