How to avoid skin problems when wearing a face mask

If you’ve started wearing a face mask during the coronavirus crisis, your skin may be suffering. Here’s how to adapt your beauty routine while covering up safely.

Amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, wearing a protective face mask has become commonplace (if not mandatory in some places).

But what knock-on implications does regular face mask use present to your skin?

The Wellness Group aesthetic nurse practitioner Madeline Calfas says while face coverings provide crucial protection, they can also give rise to skin issues like breakouts, which some dermatologists have dubbed “maskne”.

“Wearing a face mask causes exhaled air and moisture to build-up on the skin, which can lead to breakouts and irritation around the mouth and chin area,” explains Madeline.

So how should you adapt your skincare and makeup regimens if you are regularly wearing a face mask?

How to care for your skin after wearing face masks

  1. Cleansing is more important than ever

“The warmth and moisture on the face caused by breathing while wearing a mask makes it a bacteria paradise, which is why you must ensure that your face is cleansed thoroughly and frequently,” Madeline says.

“Your skin should also be clean before putting on a clean face mask to minimise the chances of breakout or infection and prevent cross-contamination.”

  1. Your usual skincare regimen may need a re-think

“You may find you no longer need a heavy moisturiser due to the warmth and moisture that accumulates on the skin while wearing a mask,” she says.

“This also creates a humidifying situation, which could actually increase and intensify the absorption and strength of any active ingredient products.

“I recommend limiting heavy moisturisers or active ingredient serums to night time when you’re home and unlikely to be wearing a face mask.”

  1. Clean your face throughout the day

Finally, Madeline advises cleansing your face every time you remove your mask.

“Try carrying a micellar water or cleansing wipes with you to give your face a wipe down once you arrive at your mask-free destination,” she says.

Keeping the skin clean and ideally makeup-free underneath the mask reduces the risk of clogging the pores and causing breakouts or irritation.

Makeup and face masks

  1. Natural is preferable

The physical presence of a face mask coupled with the warm environment it creates on the skin means makeup takes a backseat to skin care, says celebrity makeup artist Sue Marshall.

“Keeping the skin clean and ideally makeup-free underneath the mask reduces the risk of clogging the pores and causing breakouts or irritation,” explains Sue.

“My advice is to take make-up down a notch on the covered areas, and step it up on the visible areas.”

  1. Use the right foundation formula

For those that prefer full coverage foundation, Sue recommends a long-wearing formula as it is “best able to withstand the constant contact and movement of their masks”.

Light mineral make-up is also a great option for sheer coverage, with Sue suggesting “spot applying” only on to exposed areas.

  1. Highlight your eyes

Lipstick and gloss are inevitably out when wearing a mask, but Sue says this opens to door to “making your eyes the focus”.

“Embrace eye brightening concealer, lashings of mascara and a waterproof eyeliner – and ensure the brows are groomed and defined,” says Sue.

“For a little glam, add a glow highlighter around the brow bones, try a subtle pair of half lashes or even a cat eye to lift your isolation make-up game.”

Written by Sharon Hunt.