How to Help Keep Skin Healthy and Hydrated While Wearing a Protective Face Mask
Maskne, or acne caused by sweat, oils and bacteria that get trapped on skin’s surface while wearing a protective face mask, is a skin concern many of us have come to know well over the past year. But are there any other mask-related skin issues that are common to experience? We asked Dr. Elizabeth Mullans, a board-certified dermatologist based in Houston, Texas, to find out. Read on for three possible skin concerns you might experience from wearing a mask and how to help keep them at bay.
Unfortunately maskne is not something that can only develop when it’s hot outside. “You may experience maskne in the winter months from wearing too many products under the mask, which can cause a build-up on the skin,” says Dr. Mullans. That’s one reason it’s important to be diligent about cleansing twice a day. If you still can’t kick the acne, cleanse your skin before applying a mask and soon after taking it off with a gentle, non-drying formula like the Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water.
Dr. Mullans also recommends wearing cotton masks and cleaning them regularly. “It absorbs sweat and saliva and is less irritating to the skin,” she says.
Cracked and Chapped Skin
Dehydrated skin and a damaged moisture barrier are commonly experienced during the cold winter months. Add friction from a protective mask to the mix and it can result in cracked, chafed or sensitized skin. Dr. Mullans recommends moisturizing before wearing a mask. Moisturizer can help create a barrier between your skin and the mask and help keep skin irritation at bay. Try a non-comedogenic formula that strengthens and repairs the skin barrier, like the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream. Using a humidifier at home can also help combat dehydration.
Another factor that can cause cracked skin and discomfort is yeast and bacteria that grow due to the moist environment that’s created while wearing a mask. Angular cheilitis, or cracked skin at the corner of the mouth, is one condition that can develop from wearing a mask for a prolonged period of time. Applying a basic emollient balm like petroleum jelly or an antifungal cream to the affected areas may help, but it’s best to consult your dermatologist. Chapped lips in general can also occur. A nourishing lip balm that’s free of potentially drying or irritating ingredients can help keep your lips hydrated. We like the La Roche-Posay Nutritic Lip Balm, which is fragrance-free.
In addition to friction from your mask, residue from laundry detergent can cause an itchy, acne-like rash. “Use a hypoallergenic, fragrance- and dye-free detergent such as Arm and Hammer’s Sensitive Skin Free & Clear to cleanse your mask,” says Dr. Mullans. She also recommends using fragrance-free skin-care products to help from making the issue worse.
Illustration by Isabela Humphrey