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3 Tips to Prevent Breakouts While Wearing a Protective Face Mask

by Emily Linehan on May 02, 2020

If you have been noticing your skin becoming increasingly dry, sensitive, irritated and more breakouts occurring than usual, this could be due to the protective mask you have been wearing. 

While wearing a face mask is currently a necessity, blemishes and irritated skin is not! Below are my best tips on how to protect your skin while wearing a protective mask.

For those of you with acne prone skin or breakouts:

Recently, many clients have been reaching out to me because you are seeing new or recurring breakouts due to wearing a protective face mask. Unlike how acne traditionally forms, this is a specific type of acne (Acne Mechanica) which is caused by friction on the skin. 

When there is repeated friction occurring on your face, the pressure and heat created can form new breakouts. Similarly, if you experience breakouts on your back where your sport bra hits your skin or straps from helmets when playing sports. As you have noticed, the breakouts on the face will likely be in the areas the protective mask touches the skin.

In addition to the friction, your breath creates a warm, moist environment which is the perfect setting for acne bacteria to thrive. The moisture and heat also will stimulate your oil glands to produce more oil which is the food for bacteria.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the mask creates small indents on your face from where it is laying in which is also putting pressure on your pores creating potential blockage. Since one of our pores’ jobs is to expel oil, the pressure can change the shape of the pore and temporarily block off the top while trapping the oil within. 

In short, these protective masks create the perfect environment for breakouts to form and thrive.

What can we do to help minimize and prevent these breakouts?

TIP 1:

It all starts with making sure your skin is as clean as possible before applying the protective mask. Do your best to perform your normal skin routine before you put your mask on. Even though some of your face will be covered, I recommend you still apply your daily sunscreen. My Emme Diane sunscreens are all physical sunscreens containing zinc oxide which are calming to the skin allowing an added soothing benefit to your face while wearing a protective mask.

If you have to wear a mask all day, try to perform your post workout skin routine during a break to ensure the skin stays as clean as possible. If this is not practical, wiping down with a fragrance-free baby wipe and then following with your Calm Down Toner and moisturizer is also another option when a sink is not available.

TIP 2:

When you remove the protective mask for the day, make sure you perform a double cleanse with a non-drying cleanser (try my Gentle Cleanser) to ensure the skin is thoroughly clean and follow through with your normal skin regimen. Consistency is key!

At night, instead of increasing your acne products to try to clear the skin, opt for spot treating these new breakouts to minimize the irritation on the surrounding skin. Applying my Pink Potion at the end of your skin regimen is ideal for this instance.

Be sure to stay consistent with masking your skin once per week with an antibacterial mask, (try my Sulfur Refining Mask) to help draw out impurities. If the skin is also feeling irritated or dry, follow up with a soothing and hydrating mask (try my Cucumber Cooling Mask).

TIP 3:

Lastly, if you are wearing a reusable mask, make sure you keep it clean. If your skin is acne prone, wear the mask one time then wash it to avoid transferring old oil and direct back onto your face.

What can I do if I have sensitive skin and irritation?

Even if you are not acne prone, your skin can still take a toll from wearing a protective mask. Red, rashy, irritated and dehydrated skin are also common skin complaints from wearing a protective mask. This is due to the friction created from the mask which disrupts the moisture barrier, making the skin feel uncomfortable. A tell-tale sign this is happening to your skin is when products you apply that do not generally sting the skin suddenly begin to. 

Below are some steps you can take to help soothe the skin and keep that moisture barrier intact:

TIP 1:

Before applying your protective mask, be sure you follow my tips on How to Properly Moisturize Your Skin. To take it one step further, if the skin is dry and irritated, I suggest applying a thin layer of Vaseline 100% Petroleum Jelly to the skin where the mask touches the face to not only keep the friction from robbing the skin of its moisture, but it also will provide some glide to reduce the friction.

If you tend to wear an exfoliating treatment serum in the daytime, consider applying it at night so that you are not wearing it when you have your protective mask on. For more help with this tip, contact me for a check-in here.

TIP 2:

At night, give your skin some TLC with a soothing and hydrating mask, like my Cucumber Cooling Mask, to replenish lost moisture in the skin before finishing with your regular nightly routine. This type of mask can be used every night or as often as needed to restore the moisture barrier. 

TIP 3:

Most importantly, consistency is key when dealing with irritated and inflamed skin. Overdoing it with your products can lead to more irritation and dryness but not staying consistent with your normal skin routine can do the same. Stay steady and your skin will feel supported through these unprecedented times. 

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