by Alana Delcourt, Certified Advanced Skin Therapist – Fresh Skincare & Paramedical Tattoo –
Masks are here to stay it seems, and with them a new buzzword: “maskne.” It’s a real concern – skin complaints caused by prolonged wearing of a fabric or medical grade face mask. I’ve been seeing increasing mention of it from fellow skincare specialists, and I’ve had to become something of an expert, as I’m also suffering from “maskne” myself.
Skin forms the largest organ of the body and does an incredible job of protecting us. It’s strong, helps regulate body temperature, keeps the elements out (and everything important in) and of course allows us to experience sensation. Your skin is always working hard, and the skin on your face especially so as it’s almost always exposed. But what happens when you suddenly start covering that facial skin with a mask for hours at a time?
Areas of the skin and face that are covered by a mask can experience breakouts. It’s characterized by acne pustules, comedones (white or blackheads) and even some folliculitis (trapped hairs), which can affect men and women.
Wearing a mask for any length of time can create occlusion for the skin. It’s like wrapping your face in saran wrap, trapping the moist air that you breathe out through your nose and mouth. Mask wearing creates a perfect environment to harbour bacteria, and cause blockage in our pores. Even those who do not suffer acne can find that their skin barrier is compromised, presenting as an inflamed red rash.
A recent letter published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reported that at least 83% of health care workers in Hubei, China, suffered skin problems on the face. But of course, the answer is not that we stop wearing masks. Wear your masks people!
There are some simple ways that you can support your skin health while we continue to wear our masks for the sake of everyone’s health.
• Change your mask twice a day.
• Be aware of what you are washing fabric masks with – make sure your detergent is hypo-allergenic and unscented. Even if you don’t usually have problems with detergent reactions, remember that you’re not usually placing it over your face!
• Overwashing can dry and irritate skin and disrupt functions. Instead, stick with your regular cleansing routine (morning and evening) with a PH balanced cleanser.
• Streamline your skincare routine. “Less is more” when it comes to product, as masks will intensify product delivery into your skin.
• Break up with your makeup! Take a break from a full face of makeup; no one will know, and you’ll be reducing the number of possible irritants on the skin. If I can do it so can you! (Though I’m still using eye makeup.)
Hopefully these tips will help your skin for the next few months until mask wearing becomes a thing of the past. If “maskne” is causing you real discomfort though, or there are any indications of skin infection, make sure you get advice from a professional.
For more information, visit www.fresh-studio.ca.