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An Asian woman wearing a mask

Citizens of Singapore have been wearing masks for nearly a year. Not wearing a mask can result in a fine of hundreds of dollars.

While a mask can protect us from the COVID-19 virus, many have concerns about the long-term effects of masks on skin.

We all want beautiful, glowing, healthy skin, but many people are suffering from a side effect of wearing masks: “Maskne” (mask + acne). This is a condition in which mask wearers develop soreness, inflammation, sensitivity, and acne after wearing a mask.

Wearing a mask is not optional right now, and we are happy to comply with guidelines if it keeps everyone safe. But what can we do to protect our skin and keep it looking beautiful?

Key Takeaways:

  • The effects of masks on skin vary depending on skin type and mask material, among other factors.
  • A few ways to curb the negative effects of masks on your skin are to choose a quality mask, use the right products for your skin type and wash your masks regularly.

The Effects of Masks on Skin: Should You Be Concerned?

No one wants to face a $300 fine (for the first offense!) for not wearing a mask. However, after a year of wearing them, many people are suffering ill effects, some of which are well documented.

For example, the U.S. National Institutes of Health published a study in 2020 regarding facial temperature under N95 masks. In the states, N95 masks have been in short supply because they offer more protection than surgical masks. The N95 mask is a type of respirator that filters out both small and large particles. Though these are considered the gold standard of masks, many people prefer not to wear them.

The 2020 study took place in the Department of Oral Surgery of the University of Chieti-Pescara in Italy. Researchers found that wearing an N95 mask dramatically increased the participant’s facial temperature. Restricted airflow and the increase in heat – particularly in hot, humid climates – resulted in “major discomfort.”

Thermal infrared imaging showed the difference in facial temperature for those wearing an N95 mask and those wearing a surgical mask. After 10 minutes without their mask, the N95 participants still had increased facial temperature. Surgical mask wearers had a reduced facial temperature.

The average person in Singapore is not wearing an N95 mask. However, people with certain skin conditions can still experience detrimental reactions. The reason for this is that constantly wearing something over your skin can:

  • Cause friction
  • Increase facial temperature
  • Clog pores
  • Cause rashes

The result: Red, irritated, inflamed, dry, acne-prone skin.

Types of Skin Most Impacted by Wearing Masks Regularly

Some people do not have issues when they wear a mask. Others, however, suffer immensely. Two groups, in particular, are more prone to skin irritation and damage from masks:

  • Sensitive skin types: Nearly anything and everything can cause sensitive skin to flare up. This includes skincare products with harsh ingredients or fragrance. Any sort of friction or temperature change can result in major irritation.
  • Oily skin types: People with oily skin can experience an increase in oil production due to high environmental and skin temperatures and their skin is not able to breathe (like while wearing a mask). An increase in oil can result in clogged pores and breakouts.

Additionally, people with a history of the following conditions often experience exacerbated symptoms with prolonged mask-wearing.

  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Perioral dermatitis
  • Rosacea

Can a Good Skincare Routine Reverse Adverse Effects of Masks on Your Skin?

Though you will not be able to reverse the effects of a mask on skin overnight, you can eventually heal your skin. Follow these steps to start undoing the damage caused by your mask.

1. Choose a Quality Mask

The fit and material of your mask are vital to the health of your skin. You want the mask to be snug enough that it stays in place but not tight enough to leave marks or rub the skin raw.

Cotton masks breathe and are softer than disposable surgical masks. However, if you are in the healthcare industry, wearing an N95 mask is vital to protect you from virus contraction. If possible, remove your mask for five to 10 minutes every few hours to give your skin a break. Then, when you are able, switch to a cotton mask.

2. Avoid Wearing Masks for Prolonged Periods

If you do not work in the healthcare field or are not an essential worker, limit the amount of time you wear a mask each day.

3. Change or Wash Masks Frequently

Bacteria can build up in masks, which can lead to acne and skin infections. Therefore, it is imperative to wear disposable masks as indicated by the manufacturer. If you wear a reusable cotton mask, wash it regularly. It is best to have a few masks at your disposal so you can alternate and wash them often.

4. Check Your Products

Wearing heavy moisturizer or foundation under a mask will contribute to higher facial temperatures, clogged pores, and discomfort.

While we are still under mask mandates, find products that are light, water-based, and allow your skin to breathe.

5. Avoid Over-Exfoliating

Sloughing away dead skin cells makes the skin feel softer while reducing your risk of clogged pores and acne. Additionally, exfoliation increases the rate of cellular turnover, something that slows down as we age and promotes wrinkles. When you exfoliate, fine lines and wrinkles are softened.

Though there are many benefits to exfoliation, doing so when your skin is already irritated will only cause more damage. However, this does not mean you should avoid it altogether. Instead, you will want to adjust the way you exfoliate. Try using mild exfoliating products, as balancing the skin shedding and renewal process is essential. Talk to a skincare professional to find out which option is best for your needs.

Beautiful Skin is Just a Step Away

One of the best things you can do for your skin is learning as much as you can about it.

When you find out about your skin type, you will know which products and skincare routine will heal your skin. You will learn which face serum, cleanser, and moisturizer will lead to glowing, youthful-looking skin.

If you are suffering adverse effects of masks on your skin, let us help you determine your skin type right away. Doing so will help you build a routine that will keep your skin happy and healthy for years to come.

Interested in finding out which skincare products and routine are best for your unique skin type? Take our skin analysis tool to learn more.

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