Due to this pandemic, not only do we need to practice social distancing for an indefinite amount of time, but we also need to protect ourselves constantly by wearing a face mask. Unfortunately, the latter protective measure can lead to many skin problems like rashes, acne or 'maskne' and eczema. We’ve all seen images of the painful bruises faced by our healthcare workers wearing the N95 surgical mask and even though your DIY cloth face masks won’t have such adverse effects, it can still damage the area around your chin and nose. Now, more than ever, you should be taking good care of your skin and you can do that by incorporating these easy steps into your daily routine to avoid skin damage caused by your cloth masks.
Prolong use of your cloth face masks can lead to skin irritation. One of the main reasons why this can be problematic is because there is no sufficient airflow. When you’re breathing under the mask, moisture accumulates and gets trapped on the face. This dark, warm environment becomes a breeding ground for bacteria which can lead to breakouts, redness and rashes. For those with sensitive skin, even just the friction caused by the mask rubbing against the skin can irritate it. Long time use of these COVID-19 masks can also cause scaly, dry skin and sores on the nose and behind the ears due to the elastic pressure.
This is something you should be practising regardless if you’re wearing a mask or not. Cleansing your face in the morning will remove any excess oil that has accumulated on your face overnight while cleansing before bed will wash away all the dirt and other impurities that have accumulated on your face during the day. This will also help your night creams and serums seep deep into the skin and work its magic.
When you wear face masks, just breathing into the fabric can trap bacteria which settle on your face and could lead to acne and breakouts. The simple act of cleansing your face will get rid of any nasties and keep your skin clean and fresh. But don’t over-wash your face. Twice a day is more than enough!
While we use cleansers to remove makeup and get rid of the dirt that’s collected on the face, there is always some greasy residue left behind. This is completely normal! Here’s where toner for the skin comes to the rescue. Using a toner after cleansing your face will eradicate any stubborn dirt or oil that your soap missed. Toners also restore the skin’s pH levels, close pores, even out your skin tone, hydrate the skin, reduce acne and blackheads and protect your skin from outside impurities.
If you think serums and moisturisers are one of the same, you are far from the truth. Face serums are thinner and lighter than your regular moisturisers and they contain skin-nourishing active agents like antioxidants, peptides, and skin brighteners, whereas moisturisers do not have many active ingredients in them. So, what’s so special about these active agents? Well, antioxidants revive damaged or ageing skin, peptides stimulate collagen production, and skin brighteners fade age spots and acne scars. Other common ingredients used in facial serums include Hyaluronic Acid which replenishes moisture to dry, parched skin, natural acids like AHA Alpha Hydroxy Acids remove the buildup of dead and damaged skin cells, glycerin improves the hydration of your skin and the list goes on. For this reason, you should always feed your face with serum after cleansing and toning and before moisturiser especially if you are wearing a face mask for long hours. With serums, you may notice fewer spots, reduced scarring, less redness after wearing a mask.
After serum, moisturiser is a must. Opt for a light moisturiser to keep your skin hydrated. If you have dry skin, you can go for a cream-based moisturiser. You can also apply a bit of Petroleum Jelly behind your ears to avoid any damage caused by the elastic.
Don't forget the sunscreen! Just because you’re wearing a mask doesn’t mean you can forgo your daily dose of SPF. Not only does it protect your skin from sun damage, but you also needn't worry about any pesky face mask tan line. Instead of your regular sunscreens, you can opt for a gel-based sunblock that won't feel too sticky or thick on the face.
Since masks don’t allow proper airflow, your heavy foundations and concealers can clog pores which could cause breakouts and buildup. You will need to change your makeup routine and go for the bare minimum to adapt to this new way of life. If you’re still itching to paint your face, you can apply makeup on areas that aren’t covered. Now the best time to experiment with your eye makeup looks.