Skincare Tips In The World Of Masks

By Minji

  • Even as many quarantine restrictions are rolled back, one trend that’s here to stay for a while will be wearing protective masks
  • Wearing masks makes sense but prolonged use can cause uncomfortable skin issues on your face, like acne or redness
  • Here are some skincare tips to navigate this new world of masks!

Masks are not new to the world of skincare – there are facial sheet masks, overnight leave-on masks, eye masks, clay masks…basically all sorts of masks in various shapes and sizes to combat any type of skincare issue you might need to tackle.  However, the type of mask I bring up today is new and something I never expected to have to talk about on SeoulofSkin – it’s the protective masks we’re wearing more recently to protect against COVID-19.

Surely, sooner or later the quarantine restrictions will be lifted gradually (if not already) and we will be out and about again roaming the streets (somehow this sounds exciting yet scary at the same time!).  Even as many of the restrictions we’ve become accustomed to will be rolled back, one trend that’s here to stay for at least a few months will be wearing protective masks.

Masks have been clearly proven to prevent the spread of COVID-19, so it makes sense that we should all do our part in wearing one when the circumstances require it.  The problem as it relates to skincare is, the prolonged wearing of masks on your face can cause uncomfortable skin issues.  I recently read about a healthcare worker who wears one up to eight hours a day. As a result, "his face has become perennially inflamed with an angry red rash."

When masks are worn for long periods of time, the air inside the mask becomes humid.  Coupled with the oils and any dirt trapped within, this could be a recipe for acne and all sorts of skincare disasters.  I asked Dr. Yoon about this and he said, “acne may be caused by wearing a mask that covers the face for long periods of time. Therefore, if you’re prone to acne and also have to wear a mask for extended periods, it would be a good idea to not apply makeup and heavy skincare products such as sunscreen on the mask covered areas.”  Instead, focus on moisturizing this part of your face adequately to decrease the friction between the skin and the mask. 

Another tip to prevent acne and other skin issues related to mask use is to remove the mask and ventilate from time to time.  Of course, keep it on when you’re in close proximity to others, but whenever you catch a break, take it off for a while and let your skin breathe and maybe even massage out the back of your ears for a while.

In Asian medicine, it is thought that moist heat is bad energy in the body that can result in acne on your skin.  To prevent the accumulation of moist heat on your face and in your body, practitioners recommend avoiding wheat flour and spicy, salty, and greasy foods as much as possible. A gua sha face massage at night and yoga and body stretching in general are also recommended to prevent heat and energy stagnation and keep good circulation.

Lastly, take care to wash your masks or switch them out regularly to keep them clean.  It helps to not wear any makeup in the area of your face that’s covered by a mask.  This means avoiding broad application of foundation (if you really need it, consider applying concealer to certain parts of your face) and avoiding blush and lipstick as they can stain your mask. Instead of looking at this as a bummer, if you love makeup, maybe you can use this as an opportunity to seriously up your eye makeup game and focus on your brows, eyeliner and mascara instead?  I hear neon eyes and floating eye liner are in this summer!