Taking care of your skin while wearing a mask

By Mahika Panditha

Adjusting to this new normal can be a little tough. We have been in this situation for about five to six months now, and it has honestly changed a lot of things in our lives, from how we socialise and interact to how we take care of ourselves and our surroundings. Of course, in our beautiful island – in its capital, at least – things are slowly reverting back to the way they used to be with it being mandatory to wear a mask in public spaces. This can be a tough act to get used to, especially since we were not wearing a mask all the time before Covid-19 hit. This also means that our skin too is adjusting.

I am sure that some of you, if not all, have seen the bruises and injuries the frontline workers have had from wearing their personal protective equipment (PPE) for long periods of time, which is an absolute necessity in their line of work. As for the rest of us, there will be or have been other skin irritations and yes, it can be annoying. “Maskne” has become a very popular and very real issue. So how do we get used to it and how do we take care of our skin with this new accessory?

Cleanse, cleanse, cleanse

As a skincare fanatic, cleansing and deep cleansing are in my routine regardless of how tired I am. Even if I have not worn any makeup and have not left the house, it is still so important to cleanse in the morning and night just to get rid of any collected gunk. When you are wearing a mask, you are covering more of your face than usual and for a longer time.

For all of us in Sri Lanka, the humidity causes more sweat and moisture to build up, thus increasing sebum production which is what causes breakouts. When you take off your masks, wash your hands and cleanse your face to avoid constant breakouts. We need to take care of ourselves and that includes our skin. Try to use a gentle cleanser – it is simple and easy!

Use your SPF right

Look, just because you are covering most of your face, it does not mean you can skip your sunscreen! The mask is not going to protect your skin from the UV radiation. So do not get lazy with your routine. Apply your SPF and make sure it covers all parts of your face, even if you are wearing a mask. You can opt for a mineral sunscreen if that makes it feel less heavy. Since we are moving outdoors more now, you will not be wearing your mask 24/7. You will only be wearing it when you are travelling or entering a place, but it will not be on throughout, so DO NOT forget your SPF.

Stay hydrated

This is a general tip and one I am sure many of you have heard this time and time again. I don’t know about you guys, but when my skin is dehydrated, I can feel it! It just feels dry and tired. Even though you might already have hydrating products in your routine, the important step is moisturiser. Since you are washing your face more often, it can break down your natural moisture barrier, which is not what you want because then what is going to defend your skin against damage, pollution, and dirt?

My tip for you is to carry a small bottle of lotion in your bag or in the car, out of which you can dab some on when your skin is feeling a little parched. You will 100% experience less irritation and redness. Another tip is to apply petroleum jelly in the night to the red or irritated parts of your skin. It will help restore and repair your skin overnight or throughout the day.

Reapplication is important

You know how when you go out you usually carry some makeup in your bag so that you can reapply it throughout the night, just for a touch up? Do the same thing with your skincare! There are travel sizes of most products, so find one that works for you and reapply it. I cannot stress how important it is to take care of your skin, especially if you are moving around so much. An easy way to go about this would be to carry around sunscreen and apply it every two hours or so, the same way you would reapply your lip balm over and over again throughout the day as and when your lips feel dry. If it is easier for you, set an alarm on your phone for you to apply sunscreen and that way, you won’t forget to apply it when you are out with friends or family.

Try to avoid heavy makeup

Okay, I am all for a face full of glam, but in this case, I am going to have to take the side of the “less is more” perspective. Some makeup can get in the way of your pores, causing way more irritation. This can get especially worse if you are wearing a mask that rubs against your skin even in the lightest manner. I am sure you have had makeup on only for it to rub off against the mask (I will discuss this next week), but this is a great opportunity to let your skin breathe and thrive with the beauty that is sunscreen. I am definitely not saying “DON’T EVER WEAR MAKEUP”, but maybe let go of the foundation and concealer. If you do want to wear makeup, maybe throw on some eyeliner and mascara or even some eyeshadow. You don’t want to have to keep reapplying it as well so bear that in mind when you are deciding what to do.

PHOTOS Vecteezy, Forbes, The Independent, Allure