Chances are, you’re wearing your face mask a hell of a lot. While some areas of our lives may be starting to return to ‘normal’, we’re still obligated to wear face masks in public to help stop the spread of Coronavirus, not least because face coverings are mandatory on public transport, in shops and in private hire taxis in England.
We know that face masks are effective in preventing the spread of airborne diseases, which is of course the most important factor to consider during a pandemic. But nevertheless, regular wear can wreak havoc with our skin. Whether your face mask is triggering acne (or ‘maskne‘) or is leaving your face raw, itchy and irritated, here’s the expert-backed advice on keeping your skin as healthy as possible under your face mask…
Keep your mask clean and double cleanse
The number one skin complaint from wearing face masks? Dreaded acne, or ‘maskne’ as it’s now known. “The reason that you may be suffering with increased acne and pimples around the cheeks, nose and mouth is not only because your mask may be dirty, but also because you’re likely sweating under the mask and this sweat is becoming trapped,” explains skin specialist and founder of the London Premier Laser Skin Clinic, Lucy Xu.
“This is especially the case if you’re heading onto public transport in the hot, humid summer weather. This sweat can cause issues such as acne, and block your pores with excess sebum and oil,” Xu explains. “If you are noticing increased blackheads on your nose and chin, this is most likely down to wearing the mask. Make sure you wash your mask daily or wear a different each time, and ensure you’re washing your face properly of an evening – double cleanse, followed by toner and serums to hydrate your skin before bed.”
Use a rich night cream to combat irritation
Aside from blemishes, one of the most common complaints from wearing a face mask is itchiness and irritation. This is due to the lack of air being allowed into the area – again, causing sweatiness and clamminess, which may induce itchiness.
“An itchy, dry tip of the nose is quite common after wearing a mask,” explains Xu, “because the mask sits tight over the nose, it doesn’t allow the thin layer of skin to breathe, meaning that the skin can become itchy, dry and may also start to flake around the nostrils. Rashes, skin irritation and dry bumpy areas of skin may occur around the mouth, lower cheeks and chin area.”
The best way to combat this? “Invest in a heavy duty night cream,” says Xu, “which will help to soothe any sore areas overnight and leave skin calmer and well-nourished.”
Carry powder and tissues for severe SULAs!
Speaking of all that lovely sweat happening under our masks, we’ve been experiencing very regular SULAs (or ‘sweaty upper lip alerts’!)
The best advice, as you’ve probably guessed, is to skip make-up altogether to prevent product build-up when wearing your mask. But if that’s not an option, arm yourself with the right anti-shine products.
“Firstly, apply a setting spray after you’ve finished your make-up, then if you’re worried about the look of your complexion throughout the day, I would suggest bringing a powder so you can mattify any oily areas,” says Xu. “If you don’t have powder, a clean dry tissue will do to just blot any areas that may be shiny or oily.”
Look after your lips
One area you might be overlooking is the skin on your lips, but face masks can be bad news for them, too.
“Dry lips may also occur as result of wearing a mask, especially if you have bigger lips which may graze the mask even more so,” says Xu. “I would advise wearing a lip balm throughout the day under the mask and ensure that you are keeping them well hydrated of an evening, using a gentle lip scrub to brush away any dead skin cells, followed by a balm or treatment oil.”