Ever since the onset of the pandemic, we have made several adjustments in our daily routine. Working from home, limiting trips to the grocery store to once or twice a week and wearing face masks when in public is the new normal.
A face mask is one of the most important and effective ways to protect ourselves from getting infected, apart from regular hand washing of course. However, wearing these snugly-fitted masks for prolonged periods of time can cause skin irritation and invite a number of skin problems. Dermatologist and Owner of Ambrosia Aesthetics, Dr Niketa Sonavane (@drniketaofficial) recommends a few tips to keep your skin healthy and soothe face mask irritation.
- Wear cotton face masks
- Avoid makeup
- Cut back on active ingredients
- Apply a soothing cream
- Wash and replace masks frequently
Wear cotton face masks
The first and most important tip according to Dr. Sonavane is the size and fabric of the mask you are wearing. “Face masks should be snug on all sides so the outside air can’t get in, but it shouldn’t be so tight that it causes friction against your skin. Make sure that the mask you’re wearing is tight on the edges and slightly loose at the centre.”
Medical masks cause inflammation and irritation by trapping your breath and creating a humid environment. The rise in temperature, which can as much as 3.7 to 7.3℃ in 15 minutes further leads to excess sebum production, pore clogging and breakouts.
“If possible, try to make your own masks at home using soft organic cotton fabric,” she adds. Also use a facial cleanser that controls oil, prevents pore clogging and fights pimple-causing bacteria like the Pond’s Pimple Clear Face Wash. It is a gentle yet effective formula that heals existing pimples and prevents new ones from appearing.
There are some women who haven’t applied a lip tint since lockdown, but there are some who can’t step out of the house without makeup, even if they are heading out to get groceries. So, for the love of makeup, we asked Dr. Sonavane if it’s okay to wear makeup under face masks and here’s what she said – “Ideally it is best to avoid wearing makeup under face masks as the sweat will make your makeup melt, enter the pores and cause skin issues like acne. However, you can wear something light weight like a tinted moisturiser or BB/CC cream.” The Lakme 9 to 5 Naturale CC Cream is a light weight formula that gives an even tone while protecting your skin from sun damage.
Cut back on active ingredients
While it is important to follow your regular CTM routine twice a day even when you are indoors, Dr. Sonavane suggests cutting back on active ingredients. “Most serums contain retinol, alpha hydroxy acid and vitamin C, If you’re constantly using your face mask, these ingredients can be slightly irritating to the skin due to the sweat and friction caused by it.” She further adds, “A wise thing to do here is if you have already developed a rash avoid using your night cream for a few days and when you start again, apply it every alternate day.”
Apply a soothing cream
“The easiest way to soothe a rash as well as protect your skin from developing one is by applying diaper rash cream, it prevents friction by absorbing excessive sweat,” Dr. Sonavane suggests. If you can’t get your hands on a diaper rash cream, the dermatologist has another tip that will help. “Look for a zinc oxide-based cream, most physical sunscreens will have them.” Apply a zinc oxide or titanium dioxide-based sunscreen such as the Dermalogica Super Sensitive Shield SPF 30 before stepping out of the house to protect skin from UV rays as well as skin irritation.
Wash and replace masks frequently
We are all wearing masks but when it comes to replacing or reusing them, are we following the best practices? In order to prevent mask irritation as well as ensure the mask you are wearing is offering total protection, here are some tips from Dr. Sonavane on each type of mask:
Surgical masks - “Surgical masks are only to be worn once as they are not washable, discard it as soon as you are back home.”
N95 masks - “These masks are supposed to be air dried. The right way to use them is by wearing them once and then air and sun drying for the next four days until they are ready to be used again.”
Cotton masks – “Homemade or store bought cotton masks should be washed after every use. Use your hand wash or a disinfectant to clean these.”