Masks are mandatory when visiting certain places both here in the UK and across the world. While they are a must for protecting the health of ourselves and others, they can play havoc with our complexion. We look at how to care for skin in this new world and the best way to banish spots and blemishes.
When you wear a face mask, you create humidity by breathing into a closed space. This in turn can cause spots and in more severe cases, acne. Any oil, makeup, bacteria or dirt that is on your skin will be sealed in because of the mask which can trigger a range of conditions from redness, dermatitis or inflamed hair follicles. Skin may deteriorate further if you don’t wash reusable masks in-between wearing them because they can collect dust and bacteria which will go straight onto your skin.
Keep it clean
Cleanse skin properly twice a day in the morning and evening but no more. Over-washing can actually lead to dryness and irritation and leave the skin looking in worse condition. Try and use fragrance-free cleansers with lukewarm water. Foaming cleansers are good if your skin is oily and prone to spots and if it is more on the dry or sensitive side, opt for a cream cleanser. Give face scrubs and exfoliators a miss if you notice your skin becoming flaky and gently pat your face dry rather than rubbing the skin or this will exacerbate any problems.
Hydration in and out
Skin needs hydration, especially when wearing a mask for prolonged periods. Keep drinking water and pay special attention to hydrating your skin with a moisture-rich emollient. Ingredients to look out for in your moisturizer to boost hydration and encourage healing are ceramides, glycerine and niacinamide.
Keep makeup to a minimum
Wearing makeup underneath a mask will clog the pores and lead to a build-up of bacteria. If you can’t bare to go bare, wear a tinted SPF that will give you a healthy glow or a water-based foundation to prevent clogging of pores under the mask. However, you can go big on your eyes. When half your face is covered, more attention will be focussed onto your eyes so experiment with different techniques to create dramatic looks.
Natural and breathable
Masks come in a variety of different materials but the kindest to skin are ones that are soft, natural and breathable. Avoid synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon and rayon that are likely to make you sweat and use 100% tightly woven cotton or silk, which will be much less of an irritant to skin.
Protect sensitive areas
If you have dry or sensitive areas on your face, use an ointment or salve to protect from rubbing or chafing before putting on the mask. A barrier cream such as Vaseline or Aquaphor applied at night will help to form a seal on the outer layer of the skin to prevent water loss and keep moisture locked in.
Care for a flare up
If you are having problems with your skin, step away from using any harsh scrubs or chemical exfoliators. Keep everything simple and look for creams containing anti-inflammatory ingredients such as liquorice extract, green tea, colloidal oatmeal, resveratrol and turmeric. If you are still experiencing itching or an eczema-type rash, speak to your GP who may need to prescribe a mild steroid.
Keep it simple
There are lots of fancy face creams and peeling masks on the market right now, but not all are as gentle as they could be. While the wearing of face masks are recommended, steer clear of any products that are going to be harsh or those that sting your skin. Now is the time to keep it gentle and remember less is often more.
Top tips for mask wearers
- Use a light moisturiser rather than a heavy ointment, which might be too greasy for the skin and also affect the seal of the mask if you need it to be tight fitting.
- For everyday non-medical use, your mask needs to cover your nose and mouth but not too tightly to avoid bruising your skin.
- A mask won’t protect you from the sun so apply a light sunscreen.
- If you wear glasses and they fog up, use a micropore tape to keep the mask secure across the bridge of your nose and onto the cheeks to prevent your breath from fogging up your glasses
- Wash your hands thoroughly when removing your mask.
- Treat sensitive areas to healing ointments after removing your mask and again before you go to sleep.
- Wash cloth masks after every wear. Use a sensitive detergent because that is what could be causing the breakouts
- Cloth ear loops rather than elastic ear loops are softer on your ears and can prevent sores and irritation.