BY DENISE HEIDEL
Until recent months, most of us were unaccustomed to wearing a mask. Wearing masks in public has become expected, but there’s an underlying issue, especially known to those who have to spend hours on end wearing a mask.
It’s not acne. It’s maskne.
Since masks made their way into our everyday lives, people have been struggling with skin issues. The humidity and moisture that builds up after prolonged mask-wearing is taking a toll on our skin, and even as we move into cooler weather, maskne continues to be an issue. Masks prevent our skin from doing what it does naturally – shedding dead skin cells, and now, those dead skin cells are clogging pores. Under the mask, we have a breeding ground of bacteria that has nowhere to go.
With that said, we’ve compiled some tips to help combat maskne and, hopefully, clear up your skin.
- Wear a clean mask—every day. Wearing the same mask day after day should be considered the facial equivalent of not changing your underwear for a week. Wear a fresh, clean mask made from 100% cotton. The natural fibers of cotton are much kinder to your skin than synthetics like polyester.
- Wash your masks frequently with fragrance-free laundry detergent – the fragrance may irritate your skin. Let your masks air dry.
- Don’t re-use disposable masks. They are called disposable for a reason. Just as cloth masks get dirty, so do the disposable ones. Throw them away and use a new one.
- Make sure your mask fits! A loose-fitting mask may cause friction, which leads to irritation. It should not be too tight or too loose.
- Wash your face before wearing the mask. Make sure you use a gentle cleanser that is fragrance-free and oil-free. Splashing on a great, natural toner or astringent like witch hazel is also a great idea.
- Moisturize your face before wearing your mask. Avoid heavy, oily moisturizers and opt for something that is light and will serve as a protective barrier on your skin.
- Skip makeup. There’s no point, plus you’ll save money. Makeup not only soils your mask as you take it on and off through the day, but it also clogs your pores and doesn’t allow your skin to get a breath of fresh air when you take a mask break.
- Wear mask extenders if your ears are irritated. If you knit or crochet, mask extenders are easy to make, and if you don’t – knit or plastic extenders are inexpensive on Etsy.
- Take 15 minute mask breaks every four hours!
- Wash your face after you take your mask off. Wash away all that bacteria that’s been sitting on your skin throughout the day. Moisturize your face again and let your skin breathe. Don’t apply makeup.
- Avoid using harsh skin treatments, abrasive cleaners, chemical peels, or exfoliants for the time being. Or at least wait until you’re home for a couple of days, so your skin has a chance to recover from any scrubbing.
- This isn’t the time to try a new skincare line, especially if you don’t know how your skin will react. Keep using what you know works.
Some other tips…. Wearing a clean mask cannot be emphasized enough. Make sure you don’t handle it too much or lay it down on surfaces. Certainly, don’t share it. Keep a Ziplock bag handy to keep your mask in when you aren’t wearing it so that it’s not collecting dirt from the bottom of your purse or other pollutants from the air.
If frequent mask-wearing results in sores or skin damage that can’t be treated at home, you should seek medical attention.