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Unexpected ways wearing a mask could be impacting your skin

27 July 2020 | By the Clicks Beauty Team

Are you experiencing a little more “skin drama” on the lower part of your face and suspect wearing a face mask has something to do with it? You wouldn’t be wrong.


As it turns out, skin irritation as well as “maskne” – acne aggravated by a mask – is a real condition that we now have to contend with. While no pesky pimple should stop you from wearing a mask - protecting your health and others' - there are thankfully a few things you can do to help you get a handle on any potential skin problems. 

Not all mask fabrics are created equal  

Dermatologists around the globe say they’re seeing an increase in the patients with mask-related skin problems, especially if they do a job that requires them to wear one for prolonged periods of time. Trapping hot, humid breath along with sweat and oil is the perfect storm for irritation, which can manifest as inflammation, a rash, and a flare-up of existing conditions like eczema, rosacea and perioral dermatitis.  
To mitigate these effects, beauty editor and expert, Leigh van den Berg suggests you choose a mask made from a natural, breathable material, like 100% cotton. “Avoid synthetic, ‘plasticky’ materials as they’re more likely to make you sweat,” she says. “Also, pay attention to how you wash your mask,” she says. “If you’re using a highly fragranced detergent or fabric softener, it could easily irritate the skin on your face. Remember, it’s a lot more delicate than the rest of your body”.   
If you continue to experience severe sensitivity, van den Berg says it’s always best to consult with a dermatologist. Otherwise, stick to a very simple skincare routine and put the focus on keeping your skin clean. “You want to pick products specially formulated for sensitive skin that are free from fragrances and dyes,” she says.  

Tips for treating mask-induced acne 

Experiencing an increase in acne? Those same reasons as to why wearing a mask would irritate sensitive skin ring true for anyone prone to breakouts. A sweaty, oily mix in a contained environment is the ideal environment for an all-in pimple party. Thus, van den Berg’s advice about choosing a breathable mask will go a long way towards preventing pimples.  
Still, don’t underestimate the importance of cleansing like a boss and using the right products. “You want to wash your face before you put on your mask so it doesn’t act as a dirt trap, as well as afterwards to get rid of oil, sweat and dead skin,” she says.  She suggests you use products formulated for acne-prone skin that will include spot-busting ingredients like pore-exfoliating salicylic acid.  
On the subject of clear pores, this is definitely a time for a "less is more" approach when it comes to make-up, so van den Berg suggests you give applying foundation a skip. “The sweat and oil that forms under your mask is going to turn any foundation and powder into a pore-blocking sludge. The fewer products you layer on the better,” she says.

“Remember, if you’re wearing a mask most of the time, it’s time to prioritise the safety of yourself and others, before your Instagram-perfect skin goals.”  

IMAGE CREDIT: 123rf.com

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