While Covid-19 cases are said to be falling each day in many places, the risk of infection remains high. As countries slowly begin to lift social distancing measures, and borders start to open up to reboot economies, the next steps will be about adjusting to a new normal. As one of the easiest protective measures, face masks could continue to be a crucial part of our lives, at least until a vaccine is created and becomes widely available.

Although anything but a fail-safe preventive measure against the coronavirus, they’re still the most effective and viable option as of now. Masks work to limit exposure from the cough droplets of infected people, and if you touch contaminated surfaces unknowingly, they will prevent you from touching your face and infecting yourself that way (studies have shown that we touch our face an average of 23 times per hour!)

That being said, there are two sides to every coin. Whether you’re a healthcare professional wearing medical masks on never-ending shifts, or you’re covering up with a DIY fabric mask to go to work or to run errands, you may soon discover that your regular mask usage is impacting your skin in undesirable ways.

How Can Protective Face Masks Cause Skin Problems?

With regular use, face masks may trigger a host of skin problems including acne breakouts, itching, rashes, and dryness. Here are the three leading causes:

Friction and irritation
No matter what kind of face mask you choose, friction happens when the fabric constantly rubs against your skin. Prolonged rubbing can cause irritation.

Accumulation of Gunk

While masks work to protect you from larger droplets and particles in the air, dirt, sebum, and other micro impurities can still enter your face mask, which can quickly build up on your skin. All this gross stuff may also accumulate inside the lining of your mask––when not washed properly, or if you use a disposable one for too long, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria.

A Moist Environment

A mask works best when it’s tight-fitted and filters out the majority of free radicals. This means your skin can become easily sweaty and moist, since you’re depriving it of fresh air; plus the hot air you breathe out has limited ways of escaping. Even if your mask is not super tight, it’s easy for sweat to build, and if you live in a hot, humid country, your chances of sweating increases tenfold.

How to Prevent Mask-related Skin Issues

There are a few simple ways in which you can remedy these mask-induced skin problems:

1. Consider the Fabric of your Mask

Where possible, opt for a mask that helps your skin breathe better. If you’re using a reusable one, whether fashioning your own or purchasing one, stick to cotton instead of synthetic materials. Cotton is softer and more breathable so it won’t irritate the skin as much. Plus, cotton masks are much easier to wash––something you should do often with soap and hot water, and don’t forget to replace filters regularly (if applicable).

If you’re using disposable masks, make sure to replace them if they become damp, discard them in closed bins, and never use the same mask more than once a day. Don’t attempt to wash or clean a disposable face mask as they are not designed to be washed and may not be cleaned properly if trying to do so.

2. Shelf your Makeup

Masks limit your skin’s ability to breathe. Layering your skin with makeup will only make matters worse, especially because cosmetics often contain aggressive or toxic ingredients that could irritate your skin even more. If you’re itching to wear makeup, stick to above-eye application. Steer clear from heavy foundations and concealers to avoid breakouts.

3. Cleanse Your Skin Before and After

The golden rule is to keep your skin as clean as possible. After washing your hands for 20 seconds, cleanse your face to free it from any gunk. This should be done before as well as after wearing your mask.

You can opt for a mild yet deep cleansing formula that leaves no trace of dirt in your pores. For squeaky clean skin, you can also exfoliate twice a week (but no more than that). This will slough off dead skin cells, unclog pores from dirt build up, and minimise the undesirable effects of face masks on your skin.

4. Moisturise Generously

Before you get to strapping on your mask, slather on a clean beauty moisturiser that won’t irritate your skin. Moisturising well will not only keep dryness and itching at bay, but it will also reduce the friction caused by your mask.

Just like cleansing, you should moisturise both before and after wearing a mask. Additionally, don’t forget to apply a layer of sunscreen––your face masks won’t shield your skin from harmful UV rays.

5. Follow an Efficient Skincare Routine

If you notice rashes or any sort of skin irritation or breakouts from wearing masks, keeping on top of an effective skincare routine is one of the simplest ways to help these issues. This means using the right skincare that’s suited for your skin, and being regular with it. It’s also important to go for skincare with clean (meaning zero toxins), active ingredients (the essentials that directly tackle your concerns) that can soothe your skin properly and speed up healing.

We’re Here to Help

If you’re still facing mask-related skin issues and don’t know why, consider delegating to us. Just take our quick skin quiz and we’ll take that into account, as well as your skin type, lifestyle factors, and environment, to customise a unique skincare regimen for you.

Or reach out to us directly (we’re on Whatsapp, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook) and mention your major skin concerns, and we’ll help you find the best ingredients to save your skin. And yes, we’re still delivering right now! So, are you ready to bid adieu to mask-induced skin issues (or are you just ready for soft, healthy skin in general?)


About the Author

Obsessed with writing, especially about skincare, lifestyle and fashion. Potato chip enthusiast and lover of live music and old school vinyl records.

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