Continual mask wearing can be hard on our skin and the effects of wearing one everyday can lead to a multitude of skin problems. Even those who have previously enjoyed perfect skin are not immune to the effects caused by daily mask wearing, such as clogged pores, acne, excessive dryness or peeling skin, redness and rashes. Wearing a mask for extended periods of time means it rubs continually against your skin, causing sensitivity and irritation as the hair follicles become inflamed and pores become blocked. To help prevent skin problems that can develop underneath our masks, here are some tips and tricks for preventing, and if necessary, treating the dreaded mask-acne or “maskne” as it has been coined.
Keep it simple
Skincare can play a vital part in how your skin reacts to outside stimuli – in this case, a mask, as well as how it heals. Following a gentle skincare regime using products that are mild and gentle on the skin are far less likely to aggravate skin that is already highly sensitive. Avoid frequently trying new products and stick to using non-comedogenic products as these will help prevent clogged pores and acne.
Until your skin heals or is no longer aggravated, avoid using harsh scrubs, chemical exfoliants, aftershave or strong anti-ageing products containing active ingredients such as retinol. Even acne products that contain salicylic acid can be too harsh on skin that is raw and tender. Remember, skin that is continually irritated will take longer to heal.
Cleanse your skin regularly
It is recommended that you wash your face regularly, twice a day – before you put on your mask and especially AFTER wearing a mask. Use a mild cleanser that is fragrance and paraben free and try and avoid very hot water as it can dehydrate your skin.
Hydrate and sooth
Applying something to soothe skin that is red and irritated overnight like petroleum jelly, paw paw ointment, nappy rash cream, aloe vera or products with hyaluronic acid will help your skin to heal. These can also be applied behind the ears if you find the loops from your mask are causing irritation there. Petroleum jelly can also be applied to the raw areas of skin before applying your mask, as it will protect the skin barrier and assist it to heal.
Skip the makeup
For some of us who cannot bear the thought of going completely bare faced – keep the makeup to a bare minimum and opt for a mineral make-up that is less likely to clog your pores. Make-up can worsen a mask-related skin condition so if you can, go one better and skip it entirely.
Another option is to only apply product to the top half of your face and leave your skin that is covered by the mask make-up-free. This will also make washing your mask way easier as you won’t have to wash off all the makeup stains!
Wash your mask daily
Whilst disposable masks are hygienic, they are also not cost effective nor environmentally friendly. Using a breathable, cotton cloth mask solves both these problems, however you need to ensure that you have several in rotation and are vigilant when it comes to washing them at the end of the day to limit the spread of germs.
Oil, grime and makeup will all accumulate, and it is imperative that you wear a clean mask daily. As you go about your day, breathing in and out through your mask, particles will build up and these can then further irritate your skin. You can remove the build-up of dirt and bacteria by washing your cloth mask either by hand or in a machine.
It is recommended that you use hot water and a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic laundry detergent.
Sore behind ears
This is one of the most common concerns as most masks loop behind your ears. Try and alternate by wearing different masks every day or source a mask that fastens behind your head or even try a face shield as an alternative. If you must wear the same type of mask everyday (i.e., for work purposes), try wearing a headband that has buttons on the side that you can fasten the loops around instead of your ears.
If all else fails
With the right care, you should be able to solve and treat these problems yourself however if you are having trouble treating a mask-related condition yourself, you may need to bring out the big guns and seek out professional help. Seeing out someone that specialises in skin such as a dermal skin therapist or a dermatologist will mean they can treat your symptoms much more effectively.
Depending on the severity of your skin condition, they may recommend a series of treatments. IPL machines and LED light therapy using blue light are both terrific tools at treating active acne as well as preventing future breakouts. Suitable for all skin types, both work using targeted wavelengths of light to kill acne-causing bacteria deep within the skin.
Another popular treatment that is suitable for all skin types and very effective at unclogging pores and removing build up is microdermabrasion. Microdermabrasion machines work by gently exfoliating and resurfacing the skin by buffing away the upper-most layer and removing unwanted surface grime that accumulates on the surface layer of our skin, clogging our pores. Dirt, sweat, bacteria, makeup residue, excess oil and dead skin cells can all be readily removed, leaving skin looking brighter, fresher and smoother. Blackheads are eliminated, pore size reduced, and skin texture and tone improved significantly.