Face masks can be hard on your skin, but that’s a small price to pay for reducing the spread of COVID-19. Still, you want to keep your skin healthy for the sake of your overall wellbeing and self-esteem.
Why do masks irritate your skin? It’s mostly a matter of friction and moisture. A mask that fits poorly will slide around when you walk or talk. Any mask may trap in oil, perspiration, and dirt.
With prolonged use, that can lead to rashes, itchiness, and the new acne known as maskne. You can fight back by learning how to take care of your skin and masks. Try these tips for gentle and effective skin care.
Tips for Taking Care of Your Skin:
- Wash correctly. While many experts recommend washing your hands at least 6 to 10 times a day, you usually need to wash your face just once in the morning and at bedtime. Use warm water and move your fingers gently in circles.
- Moisturize daily. Apply moisturizer immediately after washing to reduce dryness. If your skin is already irritated, look for products with dimethicone, which creates an additional protective layer.
- Know your skin type. Figure out whether your skin is oily, dry, or normal, so you can select the appropriate products for you. You may also have combination skin that requires different products for different zones on your face.
- Simplify your routine. You may need to cut back on any strong chemicals that you usually use on your face. That often includes peels, scrubs, and any product that contains salicylic acid.
- Skip the makeup. If possible, forget about makeup temporarily. If that makes you uncomfortable, look for noncomedogenic formulas that won’t block your pores.
- Reconsider facial hair. Trim your beard if it interferes with wearing a mask. Also remember that beards may become contaminated if you’re sick and may encourage you to touch your face more.
- See your doctor. Talk with your doctor about your individual questions. That’s especially important if you’re dealing with chronic conditions, such as eczema or rosacea.
Tips for Taking Care of Your Mask:
- Size it up. A mask that fits well is less likely to irritate your skin. You want it to be comfortably snug, rather than too tight or too loose.
- Choose natural fibers. Cotton and other natural fibers allow your skin to breathe. Avoid synthetics like nylon and polyester.
- Check your ears. Are your ears sore? Try rotating between a variety of masks with different kinds of loops and ties. You may also want to wear a headband with buttons, so you can attach your mask to something other than your ears.
- Stock up. Keep at least 2 masks handy each day. That way you can switch them if they become wet or need to be washed.
- Remove carefully. Wash or sanitize your hands before taking off your mask. Touch only the ear loops or ties. Launder your dirty mask right away or store it in a disposable or washable bag if necessary.
- Take breaks. Schedule some time out in a safe place if you must wear your mask for much of the day. You might take a 15-minute break every 3 hours.
- Wash and dry. Clean your masks by hand or in your washing machine with hot water and hypoallergenic detergent. Tumble dry or hang them in the sun. A clean mask also protects you from bacteria and skin oils.
Simple washing and moisturizing will prevent many skin issues caused by masks. If you need more than DIY treatments, talk with your doctor or see a dermatologist.