How does wearing a face mask affect your skin?
This time last year, it would have seemed almost unimaginable to be discussing the use of face masks inside of shops and enclosed spaces. However, with face masks set to become mandatory from July 24th, in England, it is important to have an understanding of how to wear them as well as the impact that it can have on your skin.
It is, of course, imperative to prioritise keeping yourself and others safe but it can feel frustrating if your skin doesn’t seem to agree with wearing a mask. With a rise in ‘maskne’ and other skin conditions since the increasing use of masks, we want to discuss how you can help to keep your skin clean and clear whilst protecting yourself from the virus.
So whether you have to wear a mask for your career or you are wearing it in the supermarket, we have just the guide to help on how to prevent and handle the inevitable skin flare-ups caused by face coverings. So for top tips and advice on how to keep your skin clean and fresh whilst protecting yourself against the pandemic, dive into this blog!
How can face masks affect your skin?
If you have acne-prone skin, wearing a mask can, unfortunately, aggravate this. Dermatologists have advised that if a mask comes into contact with active acne it can cause further irritation. Acne is raised spots and blemishes which can be caused due to trapped moisture, sweat and oil within the face mask. The term ‘maskne’ has subsequently been coined to refer to the breakouts which are caused due to the wearing of face coverings. The moisture which is generated from talking behind a mask ultimately changes the PH of your skin and can cause eczema, acne and rashes.
Miliaria (also known as sweat rash) comes about when after blockages and/or inflammation in the sweat glands. The face masks we have been wearing retains the CO2 that we expel and therefore creates a humid environment for the areas of our face which are covered. The increase in temperature can trap dead skin, dirt and oils into the glands which will often cause a rash to break out.
Rosacea causes small and red bumps on the face and face masks have been said to trigger flare-ups due to an alteration in the skin’s microbiome. Having material rub against your skin can cause friction which stimulates the hypersensitive nerves which surround the blood vessels in your face.
What can I do to prevent skin conditions that have been caused by my face mask?
Wash your face and hands before and after wearing your mask:
There are some steps that you can take to try and keep skin flare-ups at bay. As many of us have learnt throughout this pandemic, washing your hands and keeping them away from your face is vital to slow down the spread of the virus. Therefore, washing your hands and face before you put your mask on is going to eradicate any germs which have been on the surface of your skin. Furthermore, once you take your mask off you must not touch your face until you have thoroughly washed your hands.
Consider your material of face mask:
Considering the material that your face mask is made from will be extremely helpful when it comes to keeping your skin in good condition. If you are required to wear a specific mask due to your profession, it may not be as clear cut for you when it comes to having a choice.
Although expensive, silk masks or silk-lined face masks are reported to be the best for your skin due to its antimicrobial properties. However, to make sure your mask’s material is also adhering to recommendations surrounding COVID19, you may want to consider a layered silk mask which has filters between each layer.
Cotton is a much more affordable alternative to silk and can help to maintain clear skin. Cotton fibres create a much less humid environment and therefore bacteria won’t be able to thrive as easily. Cotton is also a lot softer than other fabrics and will, therefore, reduce the friction between your skin and your mask while you’re talking and breathing.
Avoid disposable face masks where possible:
Disposable face masks are often rougher in texture than reusable masks and can often cause skin irritation. As well as being wasteful, single-use masks will often cause you to sweat more as they don’t tend to be as breathable. If you use a reusable mask however, you must make sure you are washing them regularly to stop the spread of germs and dirt to your face. Using fabric conditioner on your reusable mask will soften the fabric so that you don’t get unnecessary friction.
Wash your mask
How often should I wash my mask?
Research surrounding the use of masks and the virus suggests that you should be washing your face covering after every use. This will not only help to protect against the virus but will also rid your mask of surface dirt and grime that may subsequently cause outbreaks or sore skin. If possible, put your mask on a boil wash to ensure you are killing off any germs or dirt that may have been on your face covering. Putting on a clean mask for every wear will be a great help for your skin so that you aren’t exposing your face to old grime and bacteria. This is a vital step to keep your skin as clean as possible.
How should I store my mask?
The way that you store your mask can make a difference in how your skin reacts to wearing your face covering. If you aren’t overly careful or fussed about where you store your mask, you will find that it picks up everything from dust to stains and you don’t want that then touching your face. For example, if you take your mask off and throw it to the bottom of your bag, you are exposing your mask to many different bacterias which will then be transmitted to your face.
Keep a cloth bag handy so that when you have finished using your mask you have somewhere sealed to keep it until you are able to wash it. This way you aren’t cross-contaminating. Once you have washed your mask and bag, make sure you pop your mask back inside the bag so that you aren’t dirtying it before another use.
How to take your mask off
If you are finding that your face covering is causing your skin grief, the last thing that you want to do is start touching your face. Picking or touching your face is one of the worst things that you can do if you are suffering from a breakout or a rash. Instead of putting your hands to your face to take off your mask, which may be transmitting more dirt and germs to your skin, use the elasticated loops around your ears to remove the covering. Remember not to touch your face again until you have thoroughly washed your hands.
Prevention is important
Although this blog has walked you through how wearing a face mask can impact your skin, it is important to continue to keep on top of your skincare routine. If you wash your face before and after wearing a mask, this will discourage bacteria on your skin to form spots or a rash. Cleanse your face to remove any impurities which may be brought to the forefront when you wear your mask.
It can feel frustrating when your skin doesn’t cooperate, but we must remember to stay safe and wear our masks correctly. If you keep on top of your facial and mask hygiene, you will find that your skin reacts much better and avoids uncomfortable flare-ups. To make sure that you are prepared for any potential breakouts, you can visit our skincare collection here at Beauty Base so that you don’t feel helpless if your face mask leaves you with a few blemishes! Plus, if you’re running short on masks, don’t forget that you can also stock up on face masks and other essential healthcare here at Beauty Base.