Wearing a face mask has become a part of our daily routine and looks like it will be the norm for the foreseeable future. But wearing a mask can increase the chance of skin irritation. Here’s how to save your face while staying safe.
Clean it up
“There are two different issues that people are having,” said Chicago dermatologist Dr. Jordan Carqueville. “We are seeing a lot of maskne [mask-induced acne] and other people are coming in with irritation like eczema and inflammation. Dirt and oil can clog your pores, so wearing a mask and breathing into it creates a dirty environment on your skin and with the heat, pores are getting clogged.
“You want to clean your skin on a daily basis but you don’t want to dry it out, so you want to choose mild cleansers made for sensitive skin,” she said. “Sulfur-based ingredients are nice, because sulfur can be soothing. I find that helpful for acne and rosacea types of skin. If you have more sensitive skin, due to eczema or irritation, just a mild cleanser like CeraVe, Aveeno or Elta MD foaming facial cleansers would be good.
“In the evening after cleansing, using a retinoid such as Differin 0.1% gel for acne-prone skin,” Carqueville said. “That’s going to help dissolve and open up the pores, but it can be irritating. If that’s too powerful, you might try a glycolic acid or salicylic acid. You can use an Oxy pad, for example, that’s going to help decrease the oil and the clogging. After you use either of those types of ingredients, I would use a light moisturizer again.”
Lighten up your moisturizer
“If your skin gets too dry, it gets irritated,” said Carqueville, “so using a moisturizer after washing your face is necessary to give your skin the moisture that it needs. After cleansing your skin, you want to use moisturizers that are light. Maybe things that contain hyaluronic acid, so serums are nice. Serums are light and thin and they aren’t going to occlude the pores. One product that I like for moisturizing both acne or sensitive skin is First Aid Beauty’s Hydrating Serum.”
Give your lips some love
“In the heat of summer, we sometimes forget about our lips,” said Yolanda Moran, a top editorial and advertising makeup artist in Chicago. “I’ve stopped wearing lipstick. But by wearing a mask, your skin and lips are brushing against it all day and can get dry. I would suggest using a light application of a product like Burt’s Bees or Bobbi Brown lip balm. Both are nongreasy, but are going to keep your lips soft and prevent dryness. After applying, I blot my lips with a tissue and I’m good to go. At night, you can apply the lip balm again before going to bed.”
“A question that keeps coming up is should we still wear sunscreen,” said Carqueville. “You still want to use sunscreen, if you’re going to be outside, to protect your skin, especially on your forehead and nose. Those are the areas where we see a lot of skin cancer. You might avoid sunscreen in the areas that are covered with the mask, because that can clog your pores under your mask.”
Wash your masks regularly
“It’s important to wash your masks because they are collecting so much dirt and oil and that’s going to make your skin unhealthy,” said Carqueville. “I recommend using fragrance-free and dye-free ingredients because facial skin is more sensitive and the mask is on your face all of the time.”