Face masks are becoming everyone’s new “normal” as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise. If you are like me, face masks irritate my skin and cause acne breakouts that are certainly not cute!
Board-Certified Dermatologist Elizabeth Mullans, M.D., sat down to give me some insights as to how we can all stay safe and still maintain our skin complexion.
How can a mask potentially cause irritation on the skin?
Masks trap sweat and moisture which along with friction from the fabric can disrupt the skin’s protective barrier. This can result in irritation of the skin.
Residue from laundry detergent can also become embedded in the fabric and cause further irritation. It is best to use a hypoallergenic detergent such as Arm and Hammer Free and Clear Sensitive Skin.
What kind of masks is best to wear right now?
The best masks will contain several layers of fabric. Cotton is the best fabric on the inner lining touching the skin because it is less irritating than synthetic materials.
Masks should be washed every day in hot water with laundry detergent and white vinegar (has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties) and dried on higher heat settings in the dryer. Detergents with fragrances can leave residue in the fabric, which can also cause a rash in people with sensitive skin.
What skincare routines should one pick up in order to keep their skin healthy?
Wearing too many products under the mask, which can cause build up on the skin. Make sure to keep a benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid gel to spot treat pimples and also try to cut down on carbohydrate and sugar intake which can also cause breakouts.
Wash face twice a day, before and after wearing the mask. Acne-prone individuals may benefit from cleansers that contain salicylic acid. Avoid heavy moisturizers and makeup in the areas covered by the mask.
Assuming skin is not too sensitive, if not already using one, this is a good time to start a retinol cream or gel – start several nights a week with a pea-sized amount, and gradually increase the frequency.
Board-Certified Dermatologist Elizabeth Mullans, M.D., from Uptown Dermatology in Houston, TX