The New Normal: Skin Care Routines In A Time Of Face Masks

1. How to wear a face mask

2. Are face masks bad for your skin?

a. Can face masks cause acne?

b. Here’s what to do if a face mask burns your skin

3. How to come up with a skincare routine


As we enter this new normal, we have to adjust to changes in our daily routine, and one of the most important and unavoidable ones is wearing face masks and other protective wear. All around the country, Canadians are learning what it feels like to wear a protective mask to reduce the risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus (covid-19). On May 20, Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, officially recommended that all Canadians wear non-medical face masks when maintaining a two-metre distance isn’t possible. Some cities, or even entire provinces, are taking it one step further and passing bylaws making masks mandatory in indoor public spaces.


We are wearing masks because it’s the responsible thing to do to slow down the spread of the virus, but the downside of prolonged wear is that they can have a big impact on skin. The skin can tolerate a lot, but the effect of enclosed moisture and friction can have detrimental effects on the skins. Distressed skin can show up in the form of acne flare-ups, redness, irritation and even damage as a result of rubbing. We break down how to prevent and treat skin irritation caused by wearing a face mask—and how to best adjust daily skincare routines.



1. How to wear a face mask


It may seem as simple as just covering your mouth and nose, but there’s more to know about the right way to wear a face mask. These mask-wearing tips from Johns Hopkins University will help you protect yourself and others from contracting and spreading the coronavirus.

  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before and after touching your mask.
  • If possible, cleanse your face properly before putting on a mask and after taking it off.
  • When putting on and taking off your mask, only touch the bands or the ties.
  • Whether you’re using a medical-grade or a cloth mask, it should cover your nose, mouth and chin snuggly
  • Fabric masks should be washed after every use. If you have sensitive skin, opt for a gentle, fragrance-free detergent and skip fabric softeners altogether.
  • Don’t share your mask with anyone else.

Here’s the dilemma: Your face mask must fit tightly around the nose and snuggly around the cheeks to ensure that it offers maximum protection. While those characteristics make it effective at filtering out airborne particles, the tighter the mask, the more frictional pressure is placed on the skin.



2. Are face masks bad for your skin?


When wearing a mask for a prolonged period of time, you run the risk of skin irritation. In a research letter published by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, medical professionals from the virus’ epicentre in China’s Hubei province were surveyed. The results showed that 526 out of 542 doctors and nurses reported that the personal protective equipment had left them with skin damage. The most affected areas were reported around the bridge of the nose and on the cheeks from the N95 mask.

With the increased use of masks, the same sorts of skin irritations are being reported by the general public. These burning sensations, rashes and acne flare-ups are caused by a few factors. The first is friction created by the mask rubbing on the face. When your face is chafed by friction, the top layer of your skin releases water. As a result, your skin loses its natural moisture while also becoming a less effective protective barrier against the mask. In other words, your skin barrier becomes compromised. In the most severe cases, contact dermatitis, an uncomfortable itchy rash, can present itself on skin.


a. Can face masks cause acne?


A new terminology for acne breakouts has recently cropped up during the pandemic: “maskne.” Have you heard of it? Technically, maskne is a condition that already exists under another alias: acne mechanica. This form of acne, which usually presents as whiteheads, is triggered by pressure, friction or rubbing and caused by the inflammation of hair follicles. In addition to the mask itself creating skin irritation, the occlusive nature of the mask traps your breath and creates a humid environment for your skin. Hot and humid weather will only exasperate this skin condition, causing an increase in oil and sweat production that can clog pores. Consider adding skincare products for acne breakouts to your daily routine.



b. Here’s what to do if a face mask burns your skin


If you already have a rash and you’re wondering how to heal irritated skin from a face mask, you need to do two things fast: Look for a gentle and fragrance-free skin care product to protect and repair the skin barrier. Vichy Minéral 89 is a non-greasy gel formula that enhances the skin’s resistance to environmental factors and helps strengthen the barrier with a combination of hyaluronic acid and mineral-rich Vichy volcanic water. Next, apply a thick cream or balm as an occlusive to cover up broken areas of skin during the day and overnight to serve as a barrier to the friction. Look for a cream that will boost skin hydration without clogging pores.



3. How to come up with a skincare routine

For many Canadians, not wearing a mask in public spaces isn’t an option, but there are a number of ways to adapt your daily skincare routine. If you notice that your skin is being negatively affected by wearing a mask, you may need to adjust the products, and their ingredients, in your skincare regimen. Follow these skin care dos and don’ts to prevent and treat skin problems caused by face masks.



Do wear an SPF
You might think it’s pointless to wear sunscreen when you’re covering half your face, but if you skip it, you could wind up with unsightly tan lines. Apply an oil-free sunscreen before putting on the mask and then reapply every two hours if you’re outside in direct sunlight. The best face sunscreen for oily skin is one that’s lightweight, non-shiny and mattifying. Vichy Idéal Soleil Anti-Shine Dry Touch Lotion SPF 60 ticks all those boxes and ensures long-lasting sweat, oil and sebum absorption.



Don’t wear makeup
You should lay off makeup and let your skin breathe because it can cause further occlusion of oil glands and pores, potentially leading to breakouts. But if you’re craving a little bit of coverage with sun protection, the best face sunscreen for the job is Vichy Ultra-Fluid Mineral Tinted Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60 because it gives skin a hint of coverage.



Do cleanse your skin at least twice a day
Unfortunately for our faces, wearing a fabric mask brings with it bacteria, and we’re not talking about the good microbiome kind. If you can, you should cleanse your skin properly every time you put on and remove a mask. That means cleaning thoroughly around your nostrils and mouth. If you have dry or sensitive skin, you might be at risk for over-cleansing. If that’s the case, the best micellar water to remove makeup and bacteria gently is Vichy Pureté Thermale Mineral Micellar Water Face Cleanser. It’s designed for sensitive skin and is extremely effective at removing dirt. However, if you’re looking for an anti-acne cleanser, consider Vichy Normaderm Anti-Acne Purifying Gel Cleanser. It’s gentle enough that it won’t strip skin of natural oils, but it has active ingredients to kill bacteria and treat blemishes.



Do protect your skin barrier
Air flow is lessened when you’re wearing a mask, which makes it extra important to ensure that the skin underneath is healthy and strong. To make sure the skin barrier is in the best shape possible, it’s important to apply a lightweight moisturizer, even if your skin tends to be oily. The best moisturizer for oily skin is one that will both balance and hydrate. For already irritated skin, use a gentle serum that will repair the skin barrier.



Don’t forget about eye care
Thanks to mandatory face masks, our eyes, and the skin around them, have never received more attention. That means it’s important to focus and improve our eye care routine. The best eye moisturizer that repairs the skin barrier is Vichy Minéral 89 Eyes, which is packed with eye-opening ingredients like caffeine and hyaluronic acid.



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