Caring for Your Skin Beneath Your Face Mask

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced many Americans to the idea of wearing a face covering in public settings. If you’re an essential worker who has had to mask up for eight hours a day or more, you may be discovering the phenomenon nicknamed “maskne” – or breakouts associated with wearing a face mask for long periods. As a board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Seth Matarasso is here to answer all your questions about skincare in this new era, and what steps you should take to ensure healthy skin while preventing the spread of germs.

How to Wear a Face Mask

We still have a lot to learn about the novel coronavirus and how it gets transmitted from person to person. However, infectious disease experts have pinpointed that – as with colds and the flu – the primary source of the spread is through the airborne droplets we emit when we talk, laugh, sing, cough, or sneeze. That means we can take the simple step of wearing a face covering to minimize the transmission of viruses and protect vulnerable members of our community.

If you’re new to wearing a mask, you need to know that for maximum efficacy, your face covering should fully cover the lower two-thirds of your face, from the bridge of your nose to just under your chin. And, while the mask should fit securely, you must ensure it’s not tighter than necessary. If you notice redness, abrasions, rosacea, eczema, irritation, or breakouts after removing your mask, wash the area with water and a gentle cleanser, and follow with a protective ointment to help the skin heal.

Preventing Mask-Related Breakouts

Besides irritating the skin, a mask can trap oil, dirt, and sweat in the pores – especially in warmer weather. If you’re already susceptible to skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and eczema, you might notice your mask exacerbating these issues. To help restore the balance of your skin, wash and moisturize whenever you take off your face mask, and gently exfoliate once a week.

If your current skin care regimen is already working well for you, you don’t need to go crazy experimenting with a lot of new products, as shaking things up too much can lead to imbalanced skin and irritation. Choose facial cleansers that remove oil, dirt, and other impurities without compromising your skin’s protective barrier. If you have oily, breakout-prone skin, look for a face wash that has salicylic acid as one of the main ingredients. Salicylic acid can help prevent blemishes by clearing clogged pores. After washing your skin, apply a lightweight moisturizer or serum for anti-aging benefits.

Can You Wear Makeup Under a Face Mask?

It isn’t necessary to apply makeup to an area that will be underneath a face mask all day. Indeed, makeup can clog your pores and become trapped on your skin by your mask, causing breakouts. It’s better to focus on keeping your skin moist and free of irritation while wearing a face covering. However, wearing a mask doesn’t let you off the hook from applying sunscreen every time you leave the house. UV rays can penetrate window glass and cause premature aging, even if you’re inside.

Beautiful Skin Year-Round

Your skin’s health is an essential part of your overall well-being. To learn more about our non-surgical cosmetic treatments in San Francisco, please schedule a consultation with Dr. Matarasso today.