You and me both! And with the upcoming return to school, many more people will likely be wearing masks for more hours than they have been currently. Don't you worry -- I've compiled some tips to help you protect + care for your skin while also protecting public health.
Masks cause irritation and breakouts because they trap moisture, heat, and bacteria on your skin for an extended period of time - if you remember from your 9th grade biology class, Moisture + heat + bacteria = the perfect breeding ground for even MORE bacteria. What's more, that warmth and moisture can also cause the breakdown of skin. Our skin was designed to be out in the air and to provide protection from the elements. When we keep it wet, it becomes soft and the integrity of that barrier is reduced. Think about diaper rash here for a moment - skin lays on moisture and warmth is created from contact, and the skin starts to break down and irritation occurs. Now let me tell you - the combination of irritated skin AND bacteria is nothing to take lightly.
So what to do?
Clean your mask - frequently. If you're wearing a cloth mask, it needs to be washed daily - either by hand or in a mesh laundry bag in the washing machine. It may make sense to have several masks in your rotation. Need some ethically and sustainably sourced masks? Check out these companies: https://www.thegoodtrade.com/features/reusable-face-masks
Wash your face - *every* morning and *every* night. Don't get lazy here, this is important! Wash all that bacteria and moisture away. One of my favorite simple cleansers to use while wearing a mask is the charcoal cleansing bar from Beautycounter. Shop here: https://www.beautycounter.com/katielovitt?goto=/product/charcoal-cleansing-bar
Protect your skin. Creating a barrier between your skin and the moisture, heat, + bacteria can help to prevent if from breaking down, irritation from occurring, and bacteria from coming into contact with your skin, causing breakouts. My absolute favorite thing to use to create a barrier on my face is Beautycounter's lotus glow cleansing balm. This balm has a lot of coconut oil in it, which has antimicrobial properties, and it moisturizes and protects skin while also providing a glow. Apply a small amount to your skin before putting on your mask to help protect your skin, especially when you will be wearing a mask for an extended period of time. You can use a high-quality coconut oil, or my favorite skin protecting balm can be found here: https://www.beautycounter.com/katielovitt?goto=/product/counter-plus-lotus-glow-cleansing-balm
Draw out impurities. Despite cleansing your mask + skin frequently and creating a barrier on your skin, dirt + bacteria may still make their way into your skin. Drawing them out can help to keep breakouts at bay. My absolute favorite way of doing this is using Beautycounter's balancing charcoal mask 1-2 times/week or if I notice a lot of congestion in my pores. https://www.beautycounter.com/katielovitt?goto=/product/counter-plus-charcoal-facial-mask-repack
Treat the breakouts as they come. You've washed, cleansed, and protected - but still are struggling with breakouts. While we have reduced the opportunity for breakouts to happen through previous steps, you may still get them occasionally. If you have more oily skin, making sure you skin care regimen is providing your skin with what it needs is so important; if you normally have skin that's a bit more on the dry side, it may be worth incorporating a couple of products intended for blemish-prone skin. My skin tends to be on the drier side, and have achieve great results from incorporating a clear pore cleanser as my daily cleansing product, and then using an SOS acne spot treatment specifically on blemishes. Check out the clear pore cleanser that I use here and click here for that teen vogue award-winning SOS spot treatment.
You have probably heard me mention Beautycounter before, and noticed that most of the products that I recommended in this post are from Beautycounter. This is because Beautycounter is on a mission to get safer products into the hand of everyone by educating about ingredient safety, advocating for updated regulations, and formulating safe and highly effective products. This line has completely transformed my skin, and the footprint they leave in the world is nothing short of incredible. To read more about the Beautycounter story, click here.
Thanks for reading! I hope that these tips help to preserve your skin so you still look like you (or dare I say a you with even better skin than pre-COVID?) after your mask comes off.