Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, face masks have quickly become a daily essential. It is today mandatory to wear one in most public places to limit the spread of coronavirus. However, wearing a mask for long periods of time may impact your skin in many ways. The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD) has reported a 97% prevalence rate of skin issues associated with wearing a mask (1). Let’s take a look at how a mask can impact your skin and what you can do to keep your healthy glow.

How wearing a mask impacts your skin

Wearing a face mask can trigger many side effects depending on your skin type. The repetitive frictions between the mask and your skin as well as the elastics may disrupt the outer protective layer atop the epidermis and lead to inflammatory reactions. Irritation, itching or dryness may occur and skin conditions such as sensitive skin, rosacea and even eczema may worsen.

Mask also trap heat, humidity, sebum and sweat which makes the ideal environment for the spread of acne-causing bacteria and mites associated with acne rosacea. As a result, you may experience acne breakout or blackheads on the nose, chin and cheek area. Lately, the new term “Maskne” – coming from the combination of “mask” and “acne”- is currently used to describe acne breakout related to wearing a mask.

9 skin care tips while wearing a mask

Tip #1: Cleanse your face twice a day, morning and evening, with a gentle, bacteriostatic, prebiotic-rich cleanser. It will help remove impurities and help maintain a healthy skin microbiota to help keep acne-causing bacteria or mite associated to acne rosacea at bay. Finish with a toner according to your skin type.

Tip #2: If comedones such as blackheads appear, increase the frequency of exfoliation 2 to 3 times a week. If blackheads and acne breakouts occur, use salicylic acid-based skin care products. This antibacterial and comedolytic ingredient will help unclog pores, prevent blackheads and facilitate the healing of acne lesions.

Tip #3: Use a light moisturizer with hyaluronic acid, morning and night. The moisturizing, soothing and softening properties of this ingredient will prevent dehydration and irritation without leaving a greasy finish.

Tip #4: To soothe sensitive and irritated skin, apply a 10-minute compress on affected areas using a solution containing cornflower water. In the evening, before applying your moisturizer, incorporate an anti-inflammatory and repairing treatment formulated with ingredients such as: magnolia extract, St. John’s wort, evening primrose oil or borage seed oil. It will help soothe discomfort and regenerate the skin’s protective barrier.

Tip #5: Try to stay away from make-up under your mask to avoid any occlusive effect. In addition, your mask is considered contaminated when make-up is on it.

Tip #6: Prioritize cotton masks over surgical masks made with synthetic materials which may irritate sensitive skin.

Tip #7: Be sure to handle your mask with clean hands to limit the spread of bacteria. Cleanse your hands regularly with an antibacterial hand soap and/or use a hydroalcoholic hand sanitizer containing a minimum of 60% alcohol.

Tip #8: Wash your mask regularly using a fragrance free and dye free detergent to avoid the risk of allergic reactions.

Tip #9: And finally, don’t forget to apply your daily sunscreen even if your face is half covered by the mask. Choose a mineral sunscreen with a zinc oxide known for its antimicrobial and soothing effects and suitable for all skin types!