Mask wearing has become a part of your daily routine during the COVID-19 pandemic — but what’s it doing to your skin? The buildup of heat, moisture, oil and sweat underneath that face covering can make your skin more susceptible to rashes, inflammation and breakouts (oh my).
The good news? Even if masks are a must, these side effects don’t have to be. Dr. Sandra Lee, aka Dr. Pimple Popper, shares her advice to keep your skin happy and healthy, behind the mask.
Dr. Lee’s top tips for mask wearers
While the rules governing face covering requirements vary, public health officials have recommended that non-essential workers choose cloth masks or face coverings to ensure that hospitals are well equipped with supplies. When shopping for masks and face coverings (or making your own), cotton is the way to go. Cotton is both comfortable and breathable, minimising irritation for the skin. A double layer of fabric is more effective, and the face covering must be tight enough to avoid constant adjustments and sit close enough to the skin to create a skin-to-mask seal.
Even if you have oily or blemish-prone skin, a lightweight moisturiser is key to keeping your skin hydrated. With a mask or face covering rubbing against your skin, your skin barrier needs to remain balanced and healthy. SLMD Facial Moisturizer is lightweight and formulated with blemish-prone skin in mind, blending nourishing ingredients with vitamin C to brighten your complexion.
Cleanse, mask on, mask off, cleanse
You’re a pro by now at the hand-washing routine, but it’s high time for your face to get in on the action. Make sure you’re cleansing your skin right before you put your mask or face covering on and right after you take it off. Dr. Lee's go-to maskne fighter is salicylic acid, a potent exfoliant that clears pores of the built-up sebum and debris that can cause breakouts. Find it in SLMD Salicylic Acid Cleanser, a powerful, daily use formula that provides a deep-down clean without drying or stripping skin.
Stick to your SPF!
Remember: masks do not replace sunscreen. UV rays can still damage your skin through your clothes and, yes — your face covering. Look for an SPF product that’s non comedogenic, (meaning it won’t clog your pores) to layer on over your Facial Moisturizer. And don’t forget to reapply after you’ve cleansed!
Skip the makeup
One cosmetic advantage to wearing face coverings: the mask covers your breakouts, so you don’t have to! In fact, wearing makeup underneath your face covering could exacerbate breakouts and inflammation. While this is a great time to embrace a no-makeup lifestyle, at the very least, focus your makeup application on areas around your mask. Choose lightweight, non comedogenic formulas — mineral powders that provide coverage as well as UV protection are a great option, but again, don’t skip the sunscreen.
Be kind to your breakouts
The combination of COVID-related anxiety and mask regulations will inevitably take a toll on your skin. Treat these breakouts how you normally would — with some much needed TLC. Dr. Lee recommends using a face wash with salicylic acid, like SLMD Salicylic Acid Cleanser, which removes dirt, dead skin cells and oil from your pores to prevent breakouts. As always, don’t pick or pop those pimples! You risk making the pimple worse in the short term, and creating permanent scarring.
For long-term breakout control, a consistent blemish care regimen is so important! SLMD Blemish Prone Skin System is a 3 step programme to help manage blemishes at all stages. It includes the Salicylic Acid Cleanser we mentioned earlier, sensitive-skin-safe Sulfur Lotion for daytime, time-release Retinol Serum to improve skin tone by night, and finally Facial Moisturizer to hydrate.
Dr. Lee’s last word
In the past year, a lot of us have been experiencing mask-related breakouts (or maskne) — even if you’ve never struggled with blemishes before. This is due to occlusion: where sweat, oil and moisture gets trapped underneath your face covering and can clog pores. The good news is that while you’re protecting yourself and others by wearing a mask, you can also protect your skin by incorporating these simple steps into your daily routine.
—Dr. Sandra Lee