Wearing a face mask has become the new normal. But while you help protect yourself and others from germs, your skin might be a little more stressed than usual—especially if your skin is prone to acne or other conditions. People with acne-prone skin will be more susceptible to developing acne, hence the new term maskne – a conflation of mask and acne – was born. People with sensitive skin or eczema may experience more rashes and dry skin. And people with inflammatory skin conditions like Rosacea may experience more redness and a general exacerbation of their condition.
Regardless of your skin type, the best way to help skin cope during this period is by paying extra attention to every detail of your skin care regimen, from cleansing to protecting to strengthening the skin’s barrier.
Prep Skin Before Wearing a Mask
Keep your skin barrier strong with a gentle cleanser – Soothing Nutrient Cleanser – that has mild exfoliants to maintain skin pH balance, while deeply cleaning the skin.
Facial skin is delicate and can become irritated, and pores can become clogged if dirt or oil is left to sit on the face. This irritation can intensify if grime is “trapped” under a face mask, as the air you’re breathing out is trapped by the mask and becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, virus and fungus. Scary stuff…right?
To minimize breakouts and skin irritation, you need to make sure your skin is clean and that the skin care products used are not toxic, as the humidity created by one’s breath provides a moist environment where microbes can be trapped and penetrate more easily into the covered skin. Ideally, the skin barrier should also be strengthened to limit the impact of this impure air. To achieve this goal, we recommend topical antioxidants and nourishing products to protect the skin from harmful particles and to help skin heal if it breaks down.
After cleansing, use Soothing Nutrient Toner to make sure the skin is super clean and prepped to receive a moisturizer appropriate to your skin type. Of note, the ideal moisturizer may vary depending on the season or work environment. For example, if you work in a place where you are often very hot, it is best to use a lighter moisturizer; and the opposite if the work environment is excessively air conditioned and cold.
Even if you have acne, a moisturizer is needed. If you dry out your skin, the excess dryness will cause your skin to secrete more oils, so the goal is to balance oil production with just the right hydration to keep skin function optimal.
For all skin types, Reparative Cellular Stem Cell Serum will provide healing benefits that will enhance the action of the moisturizer. For deeper absorption, apply serums when skin is still slightly damp with the Soothing Nutrient Toner. For dryer skin, follow with Extreme Moisturizing Crème; for acne and Rosacea prone skin, Sensitive Crème will help balance and calm the skin.
If you have to wear an N95 mask, because it is very tight, it presents its own challenges to maintaining skin integrity. In this situation, aside from the imperative need to meticulous cleaning of the face, a thicker antioxidant product should be applied to create protective layer to minimize friction and skin breakdown under the mask. Intense Hydration Mask is safe even for acne-prone skin. Yes – although this is a mask, it serves well for such barrier function while it also nourishes the skin.
Remove dead skin and help the skin turn over with gentle enzymatic exfoliation rather than with harsh granular scrubs. Exfoliating Serum will literally dissolve dead skin and give it a fresh feel and glow. (Do it 2 – 3 times a week – more if you’re oily, less if you’re dry.)
Alas, a face mask is not a full-face sun shield. Environmental aggressors such as harmful UV rays, blue light and pollution can still harm skin if it’s not protected. The most effective way to protect the skin is by wearing sunscreen under the face mask. Sunscreen forms a protective layer which should be applied over the “therapeutic” skin care products. Think of it as the hard shell on the M&M…need it to keep the good stuff inside. We recommend Elta 46 (tinted or untinted) for the face.
Make-up or Not
Many foundations contain ingredients that can clog pores, especially with the increased humidity under the mask. And since a face mask covers more than half the face, few will have the privilege of seeing that blemish on your chin, so we recommend skipping the makeup. If you must wear makeup, focus on what shows – your eyes! Just make sure to take it all off before going to bed.
Face Mask After Care
When the mask comes off, it is important to wash the face – repeat first steps: cleanse well, tone and moisturize.
For those with acne, it’s important to soothe, protect and treat skin and with gentle products that balance the skin and reduce inflammation, like Revitalizing C Serum. This can be alternated with the Sensitive Rejuvenation Crème.
If your skin is shows signs of irritation as a result of mask friction, calm the inflammation by with a cold compress on top of the Intense Hydration Mask. This can be done daily, if needed, and it will provide healing, moisturizing and strengthening of the skin barrier, enabling it to better hold up to another day of mask-wearing.