We are fully aboard the mask train—we’ll do anything to help keep people safe and get all of us back to normal—but there’s no doubt wearing face coverings is hard on skin. It’s because heat, moisture, sweat and saliva get trapped between the skin and mask, explains Kathryn Sawers, owner of Collective Skin Care in Vancouver, B.C. “This can result in greater oil secretions, similar to how skin would behave if you were in a hot and humid environment, potentially leading to greater congestion and breakouts. Tight masks can also rub the face, harming the skin barrier and leading to irritation, redness and rashes.
The more you wear your mask, the worse these problems get—so people who have to cover up all day long are particularly at risk, but all of us might experience problems. Luckily—and coincidentally—beauty brands have recently started to cater more for adult acne and inflammation.
Sawers says oil cleansers can be good for deep cleaning without removing moisture from skin. A perennial favourite is Dermalogica’s Precleanse. You can follow that up with a gentle daily exfoliant. We like An-Hydra The Powder of Youth, which comes as a powder that you mix with water and has enzymes and amino acids to remove dead cells, probiotics and hyaluronic acid, and clay to reduce excess oil.
When it comes to everyday products, Avene’s new Cleanance Corrective Serum is specifically targeted at people who experience both fine lines and pimples. If your problem is dryness, Sawers likes to use a hydrating, soothing serum like Caudalie Vinosource S.O.S Thirst Quenching Serum. Top that with moisturizers that have squalane (the only ingredient in Biossance’s 100 per cent Squalane Oil) and ceramides (found in CeraVe Ultra Light Moisturizing Lotion). Both products can also be used on parched, over-washed hands.
Weekly masks can help give the skin a boost. Rodan + Fields Unblemish Clarifying Mask has sulfur clay and can be applied all over the face to reduce oil, or directly onto occasional pimples. There’s also The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Targeted Gel, a beauty classic that dries out zits, fast.
Now that our favourite salons are open, professional treatments are a great way to reduce the acne and inflammation associated with mask-wearing. “A classic facial is a great opportunity to give your skin a refresh and address any particular issues without compromising the skin barrier,” Sawers says. She suggests skipping resurfacing treatments like dermaplaning, microneedling or laser resurfacing that can leave the skin sensitized for a couple of weeks after. —Aileen Lalor