To help protect ourselves and others from COVID-19, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends — or demands rather — that we wear face masks in public.
But whether it’s an N95 surgical mask, a cloth mask, or a bandana you found in a drawer that has given your creative and artistic side a run for the money — masks are incredibly destructive for your skin.
You put me on. You take it off. And this is repeated several times each day. Constant rubbing and friction from the mask can compromise the skin’s protective barrier — ultimately resulting in dryness, acne, hives, enlarged pores, contusions, and abrasions from the mask materials.
Right Down to the Pore of Things
There was a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reporting skin damage enhanced by infection-prevention face masks of frontline medical workers in China. The breakdown — 70 percent cited dry skin; over half of the participants noted tenderness, redness, and itchy skin, 60 percent indicated peeling skin, and just over 30 percent cited pimples.
When you wear a face mask, essentially, you are trapping hot air, sweat, along with your breath, in a moist environment. This leads to a higher risk of irritation and, in some cases — infection. And for anyone who is committed to a daily face care regimen, this is not good news.
It’s an alarming indication for what the future holds — because we’re going to be wearing face coverings for a while. So, how do you ward off the inflammation and irritation and protect your face?
Protect Your Skin with these Quarantine Tips
Choose Facemask with Soft, Breathable Material
Be picky! Find a soft cloth face mask that allows for room to breathe. In turn, the cloth mask won’t create as humid of an environment, and it will not produce as much friction as with other types of materials. If you are prone to acne or itchy skin, you should select a cotton, which allows more air circulation than polyester. And always — when you are in a safe and free environment — let your skin breathe.
First Things First — Clean Your Face
Do you miss your flawless, radiant skin that was free of irritation? Well, first things first. As soon as you can — remove your face mask, wash your hands, and then immediately wash your face. This will help remove the build-up of sweat, germs, and any other debris that have accumulated throughout the day or hours in which you wore the mask. Remember, it is not unusual for someone who typically does not experience breakouts and redness to experience skin irritation after wearing the mask. The mask could be generating clogged pores.
Use a gentle cleanser and lightly rinse your face, so you do not dry out the skin. It is best not to use strong or exfoliators, so you give the skin a chance to calm down and rest.
Hydrate the Skin with Moisturizer
Are you noticing dry, cracked skin or increased inflammation and redness forming on your face in the outline of a mask? When your face is grazed by friction, the top layer of your skin releases water. When this happens, your skin loses its natural moisture — and ultimately loses its protective barrier.
It may sound superfluous, but applying moisturizer on your face throughout the day is the best way to decrease friction between the skin and mask. If you have it at your disposal, use a hypoallergenic moisturizer to increase the amount of hydration in your skin, or a lotion rich in antioxidants to help skin retain moisture. Moisturizing creates an added layer of protection between your skin and the mask.
Incorporate CBD into Your Skincare Routine
CBD provides your skin a fast-absorbing rescuer to soothe redness, protects the skin from further damage, and improves its elasticity — while most importantly locking in essential moisture. Not only does CBD have anti-inflammatory benefits for the skin, but it also fights acne.
Try a face mask that will stimulate cell renewal while infusing skin with moisture and improved circulation, the skin-soothing licorice aids in redness and inflammation. The mask also contains hyaluronic acid and coconut water for the ultimate skin redeemer.