The current pandemic COVID-19 has not only impacted and created new-norms for our daily lives. Although some new-normal practices introduce new and valuable perspectives of life, some adjustments such as wearing a face mask in public places, are very important for our own safety and for our loved ones’ safety. However, wearing a face mask most of our time can wear off our healthy skin barrier, cause further skin problems and sometimes, even injuries as a result of friction, heat, and moisture under the masks.
Dermatologists have reported that they have been receiving more patients with maskne (mask+acne) and other mask-related skin problems over the past few months since after lockdown. This issue of mask-related skin problems lies in the occlusive nature of a protective mask, which impacts everyone who wears a mask, but especially the doctors and nurses on the frontlines, who have to wear medical-grade N95 masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) for hours daily.
While constant friction from the fabric of the mask causes irritation, sores, and even bruises, the occlusive nature of the mask creates a hot and humid environment, which can lead to the accumulation of sweat and oil under the mask. This accumulation can again lead to irritation, redness, acne breakouts, and even contact dermatitis (eczema).
Today, we have compiled a list of tips that you can do to keep your skin happy and clear while following the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) guidelines for wearing a face mask.
Tip 1: Improve your cleansing regimen.
Washing your face before and after the face mask is the key to keeping maskne at bay. If you have oily-combination skin, choose a cleanser with salicylic acid such as COSRX Salicylic Gentle Cleanser to mildly exfoliate and remove the excess oil from the skin surface. For our normal-dry skin ladies and gentlemen, we highly recommend you to choose gentle cleansers such as The Vegan Glow Mild Foam Cleanser, Heimish All Clean Green Foam or COSRX Low pH Good Morning Cleanser to maintain the healthy oil layer of our skin. If possible, please avoid cleansers with artificial fragrances, due to its possible cause to skin irritation especially during this time.
Tip 2: Keep your scrubs away from your vanity.
We know that it’s tempting to exfoliate even harder when your skin is not behaving properly. Because after every scrub, the skin feels smoother again, but the skin also gets drier and itchier when you over scrub. Since our skin has already been irritated from the constant friction of fabric and lack of air, putting additional stressors like scrubbing your skin can cause your skin more irritation.
However, instead of using scrubs to remove excess sebum and improve clogged pores, we highly recommend you to incorporate hydrating toner with exfoliating ingredients such as Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner (not recommended to use every day for dry skin) to help remove the dead skin cells and debris to avoid clogged pores.
Tip 3: Switch up to a light moisturizer before face-mask.
Due to the occlusive nature of the face mask, our skin suffers from the hot, moist, and sweaty environment underneath the mask. However, it is very important to keep our skin hydrated because if your skin is not well-hydrated, your skin will be prone to redness and/or irritation from the heat, sweat, and friction from the fabric.
If your skin is naturally oily or if your skin naturally produces more oil during summer, choose a gel moisturizer such as Benton Aloe Propolis Gel or Blithe Iceplant pressed serum (hybrid moisturizer) to keep your skin hydrated. However, if you have rather dry skin, we recommend using COSRX Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion or Pyunkang Yul Moisture Cream to keep the skin hydrated throughout the day underneath the mask.
Tip 4: Protect your maskne.
If you are already having maskne, we suggest protecting your breakouts or acne with pimple patches, such as COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch or COSRX Clear Fit Master Patch to prevent further inflammation while wearing your mask. Adding a prescribed benzoyl peroxide cream or gel from a dermatologist is highly recommended as well since too much benzoyl peroxide can extremely dry out and irritate the skin.
Tip 5: Look out for anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial ingredients in products.
If you are dealing with maskne or irritation around your covered mask area, we highly recommend you to look out for anti-inflammatory ingredients such as niacinamide, zinc, green tea, turmeric, calendula, centella asiatica, licorice, oatmeal, and honey propolis.
Either you incorporate these ingredients into the steps of serum, such as Innisfree green tea serum, or moisturizer, such as COSRX Ultimate Moisturizing Honey Overnight Mask, or you can incorporate them as an additional facial masking step with a sheet mask every 2-3 days to soothe and calm your skin.
Tip 6: Wear less or no foundation for the mask area.
This is a known factor that makeup can clog pores and lead to breakouts even without the face-mask covering an area daily. The damage can be tripled when you wear makeup while wearing the face-mask daily since the area underneath the mask is under occlusion. However, if you must wear foundation, choose the lightweight or water-based formulas and apply on the exposed area around the mask.
Tip 7: Wash your face mask regularly.
It is not only important to keep your skin clean but also your face mask. It is highly recommended not only by us but also by dermatologist friends to always switch a clean mask daily and wash your used face mask using hot water and fragrance-free detergent. It is recommended to use a fragrance-free detergent since the fragrance within the fabric can cause irritation while adding onto the irritation from the friction. Just as always, prevention is key to protection.