Because of COVID-19, many of us are in a position where it is mandatory to wear masks to work for 8 or more hours a day. Depending on the type of mask being worn, how long it is being worn, and the environment it is being worn in, masks can cause skin irritations like abrasions, cuts, redness, inflamed hyperpigmentation and what some are calling “maskne”. Here are two different ways masks can cause unwanted skin problems:
1. Masks can actually cause dryness. Some of you may experience dry patches and peeling due to the fabric absorbing the natural oils of the skin needed to maintain the natural moisture barrier.
2. Wearing masks consistently may also cause breakouts due to the environment created under the mask. Your breath causes the surface of the skin to become warm and moist (I know, we all hate that word). Unfortunately, this is the perfect environment for yeast and bacteria to clog the pores and infect the hair follicles, causing acne- this specific type of acne is called folliculitis.
While some of these frustrations are unavoidable (i.e. healthcare workers’ “hero wounds”), there are steps you can take and products you can use to help keep some irritations from becoming worse.
Keep Your Skin As Clean As Possible
The skin under your mask can become a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast to grow in that area underneath. Because of how warm it can get under the mask, they can trap sweat, dirt, and oil which can exacerbate issues such as acne and inflammation. In order to keep these things to a minimum, it is imperative to keep your skin clean as you can. In the morning, be sure to use a gentle cleanser on your skin that won't strip your skin of natural oils. If you already struggled with acne before having to wear a mask, opt for a cleanser that contains salicylic acid to combat your spots. Make sure to wash your face as soon as you get home to rid your skin of the dirt that has built up over the course of the day. Cetaphil, CeraVe and Neutragena are three brands that carry gentle and affordable cleansers that will effectively clean your skin. If you are looking for something a little more on the natural side, we carry four different cleansers made for four separate skin types. Click here to shop online, or stop in at any Oasis location to have an esthetician help you find the right cleanser for your specific skin type.
Tip: this is a great time to enjoy not wearing makeup. By avoiding face makeup, you are taking that extra step to help keep your pores from clogging. Take this opportunity to play up your eyes and brows ;)
Tone, Tone, Tone
Typically, I do not recommend toners to people unless they suffer from extremely oil skin or intense breakouts. Toners are one of those products that you can use if you like, but are not essential to a good skincare regimen. However, I do recommend a good one if you are wearing a mask all day. I myself have tried many different toners, but my favorite that I have used is our Oasis Pore Balancing toner. This toner contains:
Horsetail: promotes the healing of rashes and burns and has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties
Cornflower: soothes sensitive and irritated skin
Rose hips: helps skin maintain moisture and has anti-aging benefits
Green tea extract: refreshes and brightens the skin
Witch hazel: clears pores from dirt and oil with antibacterial properties and soothes sunburns
Throughout my work day, I will put a small amount on a cotton pad and wipe underneath the mask to refresh my skin so that it stays as clean and clear as possible. Plus, it smells amazing. I have yet to find a drugstore or high-end toner that lives up to this stuff.
Change Your Skincare Routine
If you are experiencing any of the skin problems mentioned at the beginning of this post, I strongly urge you to take a look at your skincare products and the ingredients and see if you need to make a change. For those of you experiencing breakouts, but no dryness, I recommend washing twice a day with a gentle cleanser with salicylic acid as a main ingredient. Second, treat with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid and then follow with a quality moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid. Finding your perfect mix for your skin might take some trial and error, so be patient with your results.
Hyaluronic acid: This ingredient has several benefits. Not only does it plump the skin and make it look more supple, but it also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. This means that it speeds up the process of wound healing and reduces redness and inflammation. Also, the molecules attract moisture (the good kind of moisture) and hydration throughout the day. It is by far one of my favorite skincare ingredients and I absolutely won't use a moisturizer unless it contains hyaluronic acid.
Benzoyl peroxide: this powerful ingredient does three major things- kills bacteria, reduces inflammation, and unclogs pores. This stuff can be quite drying at first, so I recommend only using it once a day at night time right before your moisturizer. When you find a product you like that contains benzoyl peroxide, apply a thin layer to your face after cleansing and then let it completely dry before applying moisturizer. This one is best for traditional pimples.*
Salicylic acid: this ingredient is less drying than benzoyl peroxide and more safe to use on sensitive skin types battling acne. This acid works by gently exfoliating the skin, reducing oil production. It is more suited to treat whiteheads and blackheads. If you start with benzoyl peroxide and find it too drying, give salicylic acid a try instead.*
(**Disclaimer: these ingredients are pretty strong and both can be drying until your skin adjusts. I do not recommend using a benzoyl peroxide serum along with salicylic acid serum. Also, do not mix benzoyl peroxide with your retinol- I would choose one or the other or you skin will become so dried out, you may notice peeling, redness, and itchiness. In my own routine, I am temporarily subbing my retinol out with benzoyl peroxide.)
For those of you experiencing "hero wounds" (abrasions, cuts, dryness and raw skin), but little to no breakouts, here are some things you can do to save your skin:
After removing your mask for the day, wash your skin with a very gentle cleanser with lukewarm water and follow with an ointment or a rich moisturizer.
Aquaphor Topical Ointment: this is great if you are looking for an affordable and easily accessible way to treat skin that has been roughed up by a mask. It is an emollient, meaning it deeply moisturizes the skin so that wounds heal quicker. Aquaphor also softens the skin and treats flaky, itchy skin.
Cannuka Skin Balm: This cream is deliciously thick, but absorbs into your skin over the course of about an hour or so. This may sound annoying, but it's actually a good thing! That means that if your skin is irritated, the balm will slowly absorb over time to keep your skin as hydrated and soothed as possible. It contains CBD and Manuka Honey which, together, form a powerful duo of anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, meaning it soothes your skin and kills bacteria all in one. You can find this online or at any of our OFB locations.
If you are struggling to find a good combination of all of these products to use on your skin, I highly suggest reaching out to your esthetician to ask them to help you put a "mask routine" together for you.
Keep Your Mask Clean
I beg of you, do not use the same mask every single day for a week without cleaning it or getting a new one. If you are wearing surgical masks, get a new one every day so that the bacteria from the day before is not going back onto your skin. If you are able to, change out your mask multiple times a day. If you are using a homemade cloth mask, wash in the washing machine with hot water and then tumble dry with high heat so that all germs are killed. You can even hand wash them in the sink, but make sure that you are using hot water and wash for at least 20 seconds. To get more information, you can check out the CDC website here as they have official guidelines on how to properly clean your mask.
Get A Facial
Here at OFB, we offer a Clear facial that would be a gift to your skin after all those hours of wearing a mask. To begin the facial, we start off with a deep cleanse using our salicylic acid cleanser along with steam to soften the pores. By softening the pores, it makes it easier for the esthetician to extract the pores of dirt and oil. After cleansing and extractions, we apply a mask suited to your skin type-usually our Active Willow Charcoal mask-which is then massaged in with our soothing ice globes. We keep these fun little tools in the fridge to keep them cold (this is everyone's favorite part of our facials).
After the mask, we use a tool called a High Frequency Device. This kills acne-causing bacteria as well as brightens and smooths the skin. Next, we apply a Light Chemical Peel. Typically, we only recommend these during the winter time as you need to stay out of direct sunlight for about 2 weeks, but they are so effective for acne that if you believe you can stay out of the sun for a bit, I recommend giving it a try. Lastly, we end the facial with a hydrating oil or Cannuka products to lock in moisture and hydration.
CONGRATS!!! If you made it to the end of this blog, you get a prize! At your next facial appointment, mention this blog post to your esthetician for a 2-for-1 add-on deal :)
*This deal is valid at all Oasis Face Bar locations and lasts until July 3rd, 2020.*