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Beauty Behind the Mask?

What's lurking underneath your PPE face mask and how to keep your skin healthy and beautiful.

Three months after the WHO declared Covid-19 as a Pandemic, we are finally venturing out of our homes, and cautiously getting ready to pay visits to our favorite retailers, restaurants and sorely missed gyms. Hand sanitizers have a permanent place in our purses, backpacks, computer bags and toiletry kits. Face masks, which were once frightfully scarce, are now the hot, new accessory - available in fashionable styles and a multitude of colors.

While businesses are reopening across the nation, safety requirements are not loosening up. Many are requiring mandatory face masks, hand sanitation and temperature checks prior to granting admission. These are all good safety and sanitation protocols but there's a downside to wearing face masks for extended periods of time. PPE face masks are bad for your skin. If you're not familiar with the term Maskne (mask-acne), just wait, it's only a matter of time before it becomes ubiquitous. Maskne describes the acne and skin breakouts that result from wearing masks for prolonged periods of time. And it's not just acne we need to worry about. Other symptoms include dryness, itching, redness, excessive rubbing and broken skin. We'll share the causes and the solutions.

  • N95 masks and similar, may make it harder to breathe and limit oxygen flow to the skin. Most cloth masks do not seal tight against your skin so there's no risk of carbon dioxide poisoning but the air quality trapped between your skin and the mask degrades the longer you wear them.

  • The skin beneath your mask becomes an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and germs - they love warm, moist environments.

  • Wearing face masks for extended periods of time causes sweating, oil build-up, chafing, dryness and other skin barrier issues.

  • Masks don't block out all particulates. Some make it all the way to your skin.

Doing the right thing and being safe don't have to lead to acne breakouts, irritated skin, congestion, inflammation and toxic buildup. Here's how to care for your skin pre and post-mask so you can continue to be safe and enjoy life away from home:

  • Make sure your masks are made with breathable materials, with a layer of natural fabric, like cotton, hemp or linen, on the side that will touch your skin.

  • Wash your mask after daily wear.

  • Wear breathable or better yet, no make-up, underneath your mask.

  • If you have to wear masks for long periods at a time, be sure to take breaks. Go outside, or away from people, remove your mask and let your skin breathe for a few minutes. Wipe away sweat with a soft cloth, if face washing is not possible.

  • Avoid wearing products with retinol, acids and other harsh chemicals as the heat trapped within the mask and your skin, may magnify the effects of these ingredients.

  • Avoid harsh skin treatments and procedures that may irritate or weaken your skin barrier layer, like lasers and peels.

  • Pre-mask: apply a noncomedogenic, nourishing moisturizer. Try our Sheltered Protecting Face Oil to strengthen your skin barrier and keep in hydration. It absorbs beautifully into the skin without leaving residue or sticking to your mask.

  • Post-mask: wash your face after prolonged mask use with a gentle cleanser. Try our Rose Willow Delicate Face Cleansing Gel, a gentle and effective way to keep your skin clean without harsh irritants. Avoid mechanical abrasion - do not scrub your face.

  • Post cleanse: Hydrate and relieve irritated skin. Try our Lavandé Soothing Skin Toner, fortified with vegan collagen, marine actives and firming agents to soothe irritation, retain hydration and tone your skin.

  • If you're prone to breakouts and oily skin, or are experiencing mascne, use a gentle product that will help manage sebum production, fight bacteria and prevent future breakouts. Try our Clarified Resurfacing Serum, made with plant-derived antibacterials and soothing humectants including willow bark extract, turmeric and aloe. Use before and after mask as needed.

  • Repair your skin overnight with a rejuvenating moisturizer. Try our Healed Enhancing Face Oil to renew, and improve skin texture, wounds, blemishes and irritation.

  • Once a week or as needed, apply a detoxifying face mask. Try our Unmasked Forté Exfoliating Mineral Mask, made with turmeric, green tea, bentonite clay and lavender to detoxify, unclog pores and lift away, sweat, dirt and oil.

This may look like a long list, but an easy rule of thumb to remember is, less is more. When wearing mask, keep your skin clean, hydrated and moisturized. You don't have to buy a shelf-full of products, but at minimum, invest in a good, gentle cleanser and nourishing moisturizer. By the way, many of these skin care tips also apply to your hands. While you may not be seeing glovne (glove-acne), on your hands, you may experience dryness and irritation (from sanitizers) as well as eczema and other skin issues associated with glove wearing (moisture, bacteria, and sweat).

Personal protection equipment is for everyone's safety. It's not going away any time in our foreseeable futures. Practicing good skin hygiene is the key to maintaining healthy, beautiful skin underneath the mask, gloves and other PPE. Keep your skin care steps simple, easy and enjoyable to ensure your commitment. Be mindful about your self-care, be kind to your skin, and stay healthy.


Learn about our Mindfulness-Based Self-Care to transform your daily, rushed routines into intentional, thoughtful rituals of care.

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