• Deborah Verga

11 Tips for Preventing Face Mask Irritation

The governor of California reversed our reopening this week and effectively shut our state down for a 2nd time.

Face masks are now mandatory across California and in most states when you're in a public place.

And it appears that wearing a face mask is going to be the norm going forward for quite some time into the future.

Below I'm sharing my 11 Tips for Preventing Face Mask Irritation.

But first, what are some issues caused by wearing a face mask?

Wearing a Face Mask

For many, wearing a face mask, or other face covering, is required in the work place.

If you work part time, this may be for a couple of hours a day. If you work full time, you may be wearing your face mask upwards of 8+ hours a day.

If you have oily skin, wearing a face mask for any length of time can cause breakouts and increase problematic skin issues, such as acne.

If you have dry skin, or mature skin, wearing a face mask can cause your skin to feel hot and itchy.

For those suffering from rosacea, wearing a face mask can further inflame it.

If you're required to wear a face mask outdoors, especially during the hot summer months, they can be more than just a little uncomfortable.

Sweating under a face mask can trap additional heat and moisture against your skin which can lead to further irritation.

Wearing a face mask for prolonged periods of time, and in uncomfortable conditions, can set your skin up for a new kind of acne... Maskne, regardless of your age or skin type.

What is Maskne?

According to health.com, dermatologist are seeing an increase in "Maskne", technically known as acne mechanica.

Up until the recent pandemic, acne mechania was primarily experienced by athletes.

Acne mechania was noted commonly due to the sweat, heat, and friction present under the athletes helmets and straps.

It's also been noted in actors and dancers who wear thick makeup for extended periods of time.

Now, because of the use of face masks, dermatologists are seeing Maskne more commonly across the board.

Maskne is triggered by clogged pores from sweat, oil, and makeup trapped under the mask.

Maskne is exacerbated by our breath. When we breathe in and out under the mask, our breath is creating a build up of humidity. This becomes a breeding ground for acne and skin irritation when face masks are worn for hours on end.

If you have to wear a face mask, there are a few things you can do to help prevent face mask irritation.

Here are 11 Tips for Preventing Face Mask Irritation

1. Avoid Synthetic Materials

If using a cloth face mask, choose one made from cotton. Cotton breathes and can help wick away moisture. Avoid synthetic materials when possible. Face masks made from polyester, nylon, and rayon tend to hold onto moisture and can make you sweat which can cause skin irritation.

2. Make Sure Your Face Mask Fits Properly

If your face mask is too tight, especially on the bridge of your nose, or over your ears, it can rub, cause redness, dry patches, sores, and irritation. Conversely, if your face mask is too loose it can move around too much, rub your skin, and cause irritation.

3. Always Wear a Clean Face Mask

If you're wearing a cloth face mask, wash it, after every use. Your mask can become a petri dish of bacteria, dead skin cells, mucus, saliva... you get the idea. Continually wearing a dirty face mask can lead to clogged pores, redness, acne and other skin issues. Not to mention the external contaminates need to be removed.

4. Use Fragrance Free Detergent

Avoid perfumed detergent. Use a fragrance free detergent to wash your face mask. Fragrance and perfumes can cause further skin irritation, especially on your face. One of my favorites is All Free and Clear Laundry Detergent:

5. Stay Hydrated

Make sure you're drinking plenty of water to help remove toxins from your body and keep your skin hydrated.

6. Your Skincare

This is the time to go all in on your skincare to protect your skin's lipid barrier and help it fair better under your face mask. The more you're able to protect your skin's lipid barrier, the better it will respond to the stress of wearing a face mask for hours on end.

7. Wash Your Face

Wash your face before and after wearing your face mask. Choose a fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, non-drying, and non-irritating gentle cleanser. Two of my favorites are from CeraVe. The Hydrating Cleanser and the Foaming Facial Cleanser. They both cleanse the skin while protecting your skin's lipid barrier. And, they're both recommended by dermatologists:

8. Create a Skin Barrier

Use an oil-free, emollient, moisturizer with ceramides after washing your face to help restore and protect your skin's lipid barrier. To keep your skin hydrated while wearing your face mask, reapply your moisturizer every couple of hours. My favorite, is one I feature in my anti-aging skincare pics, and also recommended by dermatologists, is the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream:

You can learn more about the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, here.

9. Avoid Excessive Exfoliation

Be gentle with your skin. Avoid scrubbing or rubbing your skin before wearing your face mask to avoid additional irritation. It's recommended to gently exfoliate periodically after you've worn your mask.

10. Avoid Makeup

Skip foundation, concealer, powder, lipstick... Your skin needs to breathe. Wearing makeup underneath your face mask is setting your skin up for a painful disaster of clogged pores, redness, and breakouts. Also, your makeup will rub off on your mask making it harder to keep clean.

11. Additional Help from Prescription Medications

Lastly, if your skin issues continue to worsen there are prescription medications, creams, and ointments that can help. Consult your doctor.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with wearing a face mask, there is one thing we can all agree on... face masks can cause skin irritation.

Following these 11 Tips for Preventing Face Mask Irritation can help your skin stay protected, and hopefully, less irritated from wearing a face mask.

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© 2019 Deborah Verga