Wearing a mask 24-7—or at least, every minute of that 24-7 that you’re spending outside or around other people—is our new way of life. And while we all know that covering our faces is an important step in curbing the spread of COVID-19, you’ve probably learned by now that isn’t great for the sake of our skin.
Since masks come in direct contact with your face, and often rub or chafe the skin in certain areas they can cause frustrating issues like acne (or “mask-ne”), hyperpigmentation, or contact dermatitis, which means you’ll need to pay extra attention to caring for your complexion. And in the latest episode of Dear Derm, we asked board-certified dermatologists Mona Gohara, MD, and Melissa Levin, MD, to explain exactly how to do it.
“Wearing masks is essential, but so is taking care of your skin, because that’s the barrier between us and what’s happening in the outside world,” says Dr. Gohara. “So to whatever extent you can, keep it gentle and basic.”
In this case, “basic” means that you can keep your skin protected with only two products. “Right now, it’s all about protecting and restoring your barrier,” says Dr. Levin.
She suggests using a hydrating cleanser, like La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Face Cleanser ($15), then apply a thick moisturizer, like Vaseline ($2) or Cerave Healing Ointment ($10) to the bridge of your nose, around your ears, jawline, cheek bones, and anywhere else where the mask might be rubbing.
“The same spots where people forget to put on sunscreen is where people should be putting on their extra-emollient barrier creams: The ears, nose, and under the chin,” says Dr. Gohara. “Those are the forgotten spots, and those are the ones that tend to get more irritated.”
In addition to the products you should be layering on regularly, there are certain ingredients both derms say you should take care to avoid during mask season. To find out what the biggest offenders are as far as irritation goes, press play on the video above.
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