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Skincare Tips Unmasked: How to Care for Your Skin Beneath the Mask

09:00 September 25, 2020
By: Celeste Turner

Is your face breaking out from wearing a mask? Although mask mandates have become the "new normal" and serve as our best defense against COVID-19, strapping on a cloth or face covering isn't always ideal for our skin. Actually, wearing a mask can irritate and inflame the skin on your face, causing an unexpected side effect: "maskne," or mask-induced acne. So, if you're concerned about your face mask causing acne, here are several simple tips to keep your skin under control.

According to Barbara S. Bopp, MD, a board-certified dermatologist for the past 29 years at Bopp Dermatology & Facial Plastic Surgery in Metairie, "Individuals wearing masks that have acne-prone skin or sensitive skin are seeing changes in their skin, such as acne and rashes." She recommends washing with a pH-balanced cleanser, such as Cetaphil foaming face wash, and Glyderm gentle face cleanser. "They both should be used with tepid water, not hot water, to reduce the dehydrating effect of the water," says Dr. Bopp.

After washing your face, she points out that you should pat the skin, so that it is not thoroughly dried, then follow up with a moisturizer. "My favorite moisturizer for oily or comedogenic skin is La Roche-Posay's Toleriane Sensitive Fluide," says Dr. Bopp. "For more mature individuals with drier skin, I prefer La Roche's Toleriane Double-Repair Moisturizer. Both contain probiotic thermal water, which calms inflammation of the skin."

Nicole Langlois, a medical esthetician and owner of Elite Esthetics Skin Care and Spa in Metairie, has also noticed an uptick in clients who are struggling with maskne and skin problems while wearing a mask. "Regardless of your skin type, from oily to dry, we all have to change our daily routine," says Langlois. "Cleansing two times per day, morning and night, is the best solution."

To prevent breakouts, Langlois recommends using cleansers with salicylic acid for oily, acne-prone skin, in order to remove excess oils and dead skin cells. "Neutrogena's acne face wash is one of my favorites," adds Langlois. "It can be purchased over the counter." If you have dry, sensitive skin with a glimpse of mask-induced acne, Langlois advises using EltaMD foaming cleanser or CeraVe. Langlois specifies that the EltaMD cleanser can be purchased at a local dermatologist's office, whereas CeraVe can be found over the counter.

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During the pandemic, Megan Bunnell, an esthetician at EarthSavers Spa and Store in Metairie, also shared her tips for skincare while wearing masks. "My best advice during this time is to keep your skincare as simple as possible," says Bunnell. "Try to stick to three steps: cleanse, moisturize, sunscreen. And I would definitely recommend skipping makeup and allowing your skin to breathe as much as possible under your mask." Her suggestions for cleansers are Dermaware ($42.95) and the Clear Skin Willow Bark Booster Serum from Eminence Organic Skincare ($56.95).

What if you have seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis? Both of these skin conditions can affect the face while wearing a mask. Dr. Bopp indicates that these skin conditions may be more predisposed to developing a secondary skin infection. After the basic cleansing regimen, Dr. Bopp recommends that you "should also continue to treat [your] skin condition with topical treatments, such as low-potency topical steroids, to decrease the inflammation in the skin."

For those mask-wearers struggling with rosacea, Bunnell proposes a vitamin-enriched serum, called Vital K Microgel from Dermaware ($74.95). This product contains vitamins K and E, which help to reduce inflammation and soothe the skin.

Most importantly, don't forget your sunscreen. Bunnell favors sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. For example, Skin Ceuticals Physical UV Defense Sunscreen ($34.95) and EarthSavers' Oil Free Mineral Sunscreen ($40.95) are two great options for UV-ray skin protection with a minimum of SPF 30.

Alternatively, "EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 is perfect for mask-wearers because it is lightweight, non-comedogenic, and contains niacinamide, which decreases redness and inflammation of the skin," says Dr. Bopp.

As we all know, wearing a mask when you go out is a must. But remember good habits can also affect the appearance of your skin, particularly what you eat and drink. Shifting your focus to a healthy diet and proper hydration can be one of the best skin barriers when your face is covered by a sweaty mask.

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