When masks became mandatory at work, my first thought was “my skin!!” I’ve experienced lots of skin woes in my life and I’ve worked very hard to combat inflamed skin. I worried that wearing a mask for 8 hours a day every day would irritate my skin and cause bacteria to build up. I’m happy to report that my skin has been doing very well and staying clear after making some simple changes to my skincare routine.
There are several reasons masks can be irritating to skin: they can collect moisture and bacteria that can clog pores, they can cause friction which can redden the skin, they can contain dyes or fragrances from your laundry detergent that can irritate sensitive skin, and they can affect our skin’s pH and bacterial balance.
I won’t be having any of that! Here are my tips for saving your skin from maskne:
1. Stay hydrated, eat healthy food
Yes, toxins, chemicals, pollutants inside and outside of the body can affect skin health. Skin is even affected by the food we eat, which is why greasy fried foods and sugary foods make you break out. Skin is one of the ways the body detoxes and drinking plenty of clean water helps the skin flush toxins.
What does it look like to be hydrated? You should pee often and your urine should be clear or pale yellow. Also, you shouldn’t really be thirsty. I often hear that people don’t drink enough water because they’re not thirsty. If you wait until you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. A good rule of thumb is to drink half your weight in ounces. So if a person weighs 140lbs, they should drink 70oz of water a day.
Food. So important for our skin health. Eat lots of veggies, eat minimal processed food and sugar. That’s really it. Some specific foods to focus on include fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir, cold-water fish, leafy greens, almonds, avocados, and green tea. Yeah, baby!
And bonus – eating healthy keeps your immune system strong, and we need a good immune system to fight viruses. In fact, I believe it needs to be emphasized more in the media. Read more about how to best support your immune system.
2. Change your mask often, and wash after each use with fragrance-free and chemical-free detergent
Wash. Your. Mask. Every. Day. Game changer! In fact, since I have to wear my mask 8 hours a day, I put on a clean mask halfway through the day. So fresh, so clean. This helps keep the moisture buildup at bay. You’ll also want to consider using a gentle, fragrance-free detergent for your masks so you’re not introducing harsh ingredients up close and personal on your skin. I would also recommend ditching dryer sheets because they contain chemicals, which adhere to your clothing. And if it’s on your face, that means you’re breathing it in and absorbing it through your pores. No thanks. Trust me, you can live a life without dryer sheets. I’ve been dryer sheet-free for years. It’s not something I miss or ever think about. Plus, it’s better for the environment.
3. If you are acne prone, use an acne treatment
The products I use for my skin have not changed, I just use them in a different order. For instance, I’ve always used a mandelic serum at night which I now use in the morning before I put my mask on. This helps protect my skin during the day while it is vulnerable to the side effects of wearing a mask. And at night I wear my intense moisturizer to combat dry skin. I don’t wear my intense moisturizer under my mask because it is oil-based and I don’t want excess oil build-up.
Here’s what I use on my sensitive ol’ skin:
I love mandelic acid because it is antibacterial and antifungal.
Another great product is the Bion Green Tea Clay Poultice, which you can wear under your mask as a barrier. This helps fight acne and prevent friction and dryness caused by wearing a mask.
You can also ice your face each night. I’ve done this on my face every night for the past three years. It is helpful for inflamed skin.
4. Easy on the makeup
Ok this one took me a while to come to terms with. Yes, I know, how silly of me to continue to wear makeup under my mask. But it’s just a thing. I blame societal expectations! Remember that anything on your face under your mask has potential for build-up, so keep it simple. All I wear now it’s a mineral powder and mascara. I don’t even wear lip balm because it can get on my mask and irritate other parts of my face.
5. Consider skin healthy supplements
Along with a healthy diet, there are several supplements I recommend for skin health:
- Probiotics support gut health which in turn can support skin health. Oftentimes, an unhealthy gut can lead to skin issues.
- Hyaluronic Acid helps bind moisture in the skin as well as give it a youthful appearance. It reduces fine lines and combats dryness.
- Zinc is an important antioxidant that supports the health of our skin.
- Omega-3 fatty acids like fish oil or cod liver oil help fight inflammation and support skin hydration.
Let me know if any products or skincare routines are working well for you while wearing your mask!