Because of the ongoing pandemic, face masks have become a part of everyone’s daily essentials — alongside hand sanitisers and face shields. Of course, mask-wearing is an important part of being a safe and responsible citizen. But for some people, masks can become quite uncomfortable, especially if you’re prone to pimples and blemishes. Unfortunately, the friction from masks — combined with humidity, dirt, and bacteria — make for an environment where breakouts thrive. While we’ll all need to keep our masks on for the foreseeable future, it doesn’t mean you have to live with your maskne (mask acne).
Here are some tips to keep your skin clear while still staying safe amidst the pandemic.
Choose the right mask fabrics
The usual surgical masks are made of polypropylene, a kind of plastic that traps hot air and humidity — definitely not optimal conditions for your skin! Instead, consider using masks made of lightweight, soft, and breathable fabrics. Cotton is one of your best options, as it’s naturally soft and less irritating on the skin — which means less chances of breeding bacteria too.
In a study that compared various mask fabrics, it was found that cotton provides an ideal balance of protection and breathability — especially when layered or used with a filter. This natural fiber is proven to be more effective than synthetic fibres like polyester, particularly those in the form of scarves and bandanas. While other fabrics such as denim and canvas work well and are breathable too, they can cause friction and are too rough on the face.
Our Founders Beauty mask, produced in collaboration with Milk Shirts, is produced with a high yarn count and 2-ply up-cycled cotton shirting fabric. Aside from being sustainable and washable, it also features a 5-ply protective face mask and comes with a filter — making it both safe and functional for everyday use, and great for your skin. It’s vital to note, however, that cloth masks are not replacements for medical-grade Personal Protective Equipment, nor are they intended to replace other safety measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Never skimp on your skin care routine
Now is not the time to skimp on your skincare routine. After a day of being outside and wearing masks, you need to wash your face immediately. For a thorough cleaning, look to do a double-cleanse — first with an oil-based cleanser to remove make-up and impurities, then with a gel-based one to ensure totally clean skin. If you’re oily or acne-prone, medicated products infused with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide are recommended. These can help break down excess oil, dirt, and dead skin cells before they clog your pores and turn into breakouts. For those with sensitive skin, you may opt to use micellar water for your first cleanse, then a cleanser that suits your skin type. In general, it’s best to avoid facial wash that contains alcohol or fragrances, since this can irritate the skin further. After cleansing, just follow through the rest of your routine.
Avoid make-up if you can
There’s nothing wrong with wearing make-up, but you may want to rethink that heavy foundation for now. When make-up gets trapped against your skin under a mask, this also contributes to a humid environment that’s conducive for bacteria growth. Moreover, if you’re using a reusable mask, it’s hard to completely wash make-up off it. As such, you could just be reintroducing more bacteria to your skin with every additional wear. Instead, keep make-up as light as you can. Opt for oil-free and non-comedogenic formulas, which are less likely to cause acne. Better yet, go bare-faced and take this as a chance to focus on your skincare routine!
Keep your mask clean
Surgical masks are meant for single-use, and wearing them again will render them useless and may even invite germs and viruses into your skin. For those wearing reusable masks, ensure you clean it thoroughly after every use. Depending on the fabric of your mask, go for a gentle, fragrance-free detergent. This is because artificial scents can get stuck to your mask, possibly irritating your skin when you wear it.
Like we said, masks are going to be part of our lives for a long time — but the proper precautions can ensure you’re safe and healthy from the virus without compromising your skin.