If you asked us four months ago how to treat your skin when wearing a facial covering (or face mask), or even mentioned the term PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), we would have looked at you in confusion. A face covering. Like a mask? What is PPE? But now face coverings, masks and PPE are the new normal and part of our everyday life -- and even fashion choices at this point. Most apparel brands are making them, and you can even buy a mask at your neighborhood market.
There are many different types of protective masks, and they are not created equal. There are N95 masks, hospital style disposable masks, cloth masks and even 3D printed rubber masks in circulation. But the consensus is that 1. They prevent the transmission of the Novel Coronavirus and 2. They affect your skin. Regarding the second point, often, not in a positive way. Masks are known to cause eczema flares, irritation, dry skin, tenderness contact dermatitis, itching, acne, breakouts, inflammation and even blisters. It makes sense, you are going up to eight hours a day with a piece of fabric often tightly covering your skin, it is only natural it will have consequences. But there are many things you can do to help treat and even prevent the skin irritation that comes along with wearing a face covering daily.
Once we reopen our facial spa in Pasadena, our first recommendation is to come in for a custom facial. Your Glow Giver (aka Esthetician) will help treat existing irritation and put you on a customized plan for preventing future breakouts. But we know that is not an option right now so no sense in teasing you further. You may be reading this after we reopen, and in that case, come on in for a facial! But either way, there are actions you can take at home to help ease your angry skin.
5 Ways to Protect your Skin from Face Masks
1. Invest in Quality Materials
We are not face covering experts, but we believe the fabric you use affects the condition and health of your skin. If using your masks in a non-clinical or hospital settings, we suggest opting for a breathable natural fiber like cotton. Cotton is less likely to irritate the skin and cause chafing as would a synthetic material. Save the N95 masks for healthcare professionals or those with preexisting conditions and compromised immunity.
2. Wash your Face and your Mask
This one seems like an obvious tip – but it is worth repeating. Make sure to wash your mask daily, or if not daily, have a handful of masks you can rotate between, that way you are consistently wearing a clean mask. Do not skip your face washing either. Make sure to wash your face with a gentle yet effective facial cleanser in the morning and the evening. The Osea Ocean Cleanser is a best-seller and one we recommend to many clients looking for an effective cleanser that will not harm their skin. The Botnia Daily Face Wash is another best-seller we recommend to many clients. It Is important you use a quality cleanser, harsh cleansers that strip the skin of their protective barrier will do more harm than good and lead to further irritation.
3. Stay Hydrated
This point and the next point are skincare suggestions we make daily, but they are especially important when wearing a face covering often. A well-hydrated and moisturized face is a happy face and will protect you from irritation and inflammation. Your skin is protected and armed with its natural defenses. We recommend a good hyaluronic acid serum, or rich night cream if your skin is on the dryer side. Invest in a hydrating mask as well, it is a fun self-care exercise you can treat yourself to weekly. The Botnia Gentle Hydration Mask is our go-to in the facial treatment room, and at home.
4. Exfoliate Often
Dead skin, oil, dirt, and environmental toxins build up on the top layer of your skin. And the older and more stressed we get, the slower our natural cell turnover occurs. We often need assistance getting the skin to turnover and rid of the accumulation prohibiting our glow – and skin health! When our skin is clogged up with buildup, we are more susceptible to breakouts and congestion. So, it is important to exfoliate (gently -- over exfoliating, or exfoliating with harsh ingredients is not the goal). We are diehard supporters of the best-selling Cosmedix Serum 16 (an ultra-gentle retinol serum), and their Pure Enzymes Mask is an effective exfoliant as well which can be used a couple times a week.
5. Choose your Makeup Wisely
We would say, skip the makeup but that is not realistic. Remember, masks are the new normal. We would never tell you to stop wearing makeup for the foreseeable future. And we do not need to. Instead, we recommend investing in a quality, clean makeup brand and use lightweight foundation products designed for your skin type. ILIA makes our favorite clean products, and they offer free online color matching as well, so we suggest checking them out. You will be surprised at how switching up your makeup can make such a positive difference in your skin. We are obsessed with their new lightweight Super Serum Skin tint with SPF40 and niacinamide which is one of our favorite ingredients for barrier protection. Stay tuned for our interview with ILIA founder Sasha Plavsic.
We understand that this ‘new normal’ is overwhelming and takes some getting used to. But we are here to assist you on your clean skincare journey and set up your skin, so it is healthy and not negatively effected by wearing a mask all day. Gentle reminder, once we reopen our facial spa, masks and face coverings will always be required when not in your facial treatment. Our Glow Givers will also wear face shields during your facial, for the safety of them and you. Read more about our spa reopening guidelines online. We hope to see or meet you soon in Pasadena! In the meantime, all online skincare purchases over $50 ship for free.