How To Avoid And Treat Skin Damage From PPE

Now that face mask wearing is the norm, we’re adapting our skincare routine to prevent damage. Read our guide on how to avoid and treat skin damage from wearing PPE.

After months of uncertainty, face masks are now mandatory in England when in shops and on public transport. In addition to other enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible. This means that face masks are becoming part of our daily life from now on, a brand new concept for the majority of us. They aren’t always the most comfortable things to wear. At the same time, we have come to realise how manageable it is to include face masks in our social interaction on a daily basis. Not to mention how key they are to keeping others and ourselves safe.

How Does Mask Wearing Affect Your Skin?

For those who have to wear a mask more often (key workers, immunocompromised people, or those having to take a long flight), or for people who simply have sensitive skin, wearing a face mask has its consequences. These can include; irritated, reddened skin, sores, blisters and bruising, but also acne. A new word has been coined to better explain the new cause of acne for some of us, ‘maskne’. This is a type of acne that specifically results from the friction of a mask on your skin! 

If your skin is suffering from mask wearing, never fear. Great advice comes from GP and aesthetic doctor for skin-tech brand FOREO Dr Raj Arora. To begin with, he suggests applying less makeup, especially on the lower part of your face. Cosmetics can mix with sweat/moisture and contribute to clogging pores. Due to the “humidity under the mask”, “there will be excess sebum production and multiplying skin bacteria which can result in acne.”

Foreo UFO 2 HOW TO AVOID AND TREAT SKIN DAMAGE FROM PPE

Image: Foreo

Keep Your Face Mask Clean

If you feel uncomfortable going makeup free, you can opt for a mineral foundation, especially in powder. Bare Minerals Blemish Rescue powder is a great option. We love a healthy glow, but a creamy foundation is not the best choice in this case, if for no other reason that it will stain your mask. Wearing a clean mask is key and we’re fans of eco friendly reusable masks. If you must reuse your mask then ensure you are wiping it clean after use with an alcohol-based spray, and leave it to dry before wearing it. Experts recommend leaving it in the sun for a day, as UV rays are great for killing bacteria and viruses. The UK weather might not always be the best environment for this. However, UV steriliser boxes are a good substitute, in this way you can reuse a surgical mask multiple times.

Facemask Friendly Skincare Routine

Make sure that you cleanse your face thoroughly. The 60 second rule is an effective step to include in your routine. And it’s as simple as it sounds. Make sure to spend at least 60 seconds washing your face, and you’ll see how such a simple step can work wonders. We love this face wash from L’Organiq. When used in tandem with a cloth and warm water it removes excess dirt and sebum from your pores.

Clear Skin Cleanser, £16, L’Organiq at Wolf&Badger

L'Organiq HOW TO AVOID AND TREAT SKIN DAMAGE FROM PPE
Ceraquench Facetherapy HOW TO AVOID AND TREAT SKIN DAMAGE FROM PPE

According to Arora, a Ceramide based cream moisturiser helps prevent irritation and soothe acne-prone or sensitive skin. Facetheory offer a great soothing, Ceramide moisturiser with organic ingredients. Ceramide is the perfect ingredient for your skin’s protective barrier without clogging your pores. New York City-based dermatologist Ellen Marmur explains that “Ceramides are found in high concentrations within cell membranes.” “They hold skin cells together on the top layer of the skin, forming a protective layer that plumps the skin and retains moisture.” 

Ceraquench Renewal Cream, £24.99, Facetheory

Hydration Is Key

Hydration becomes even more fundamental, according to Ellen, “your skin’s barrier is the outermost layer of the skin (stratum corneum) and it shields skin from bacteria and irritants”. To make sure the barrier is healthy, it is important to drink plenty of water throughout the day (at least 2 litres), and to apply an extra layer of hydration. Hyaluronic acid is perfect here, but there are other options that are less aggressive than a serum with a high percentage of acid. The Daily Defence Moisture Mist from Evolve Beauty can help you maintain good hydration during the day. After applying your moisturiser of choice in the morning, you can spritz this over your face anytime you feel like your skin needs extra hydration. 

Daily Defence Moisture Mist, £20, Evolve Beauty *

Evolve Organic Beauty Mist HOW TO AVOID AND TREAT SKIN DAMAGE FROM PPE
Cavilon Barrier Spray HOW TO AVOID AND TREAT SKIN DAMAGE FROM PPE

Preventative Products

For those who have to wear masks for long periods of time throughout the day, Arora suggests applying a protective barrier cream. A product such as ‘Cavilon Barrier Film‘, an alcohol-free, hypoallergenic topical cream will help. It can act as a protective layer between the skin and the PPE mask and will help to reduce irritation and sores. If however your situation has gone past prevention, a more targeted approach may be required. A good option for very stressed out skin is to use an LED light therapy treatment. Foreo’s UFO 2 cyan LED light can soothe redness and irritation quickly. The device is handbag friendly and has multiple functions making it ideal for a quick treatment on the go. 

No Sting Barrier Film Spray 28ml, £7.39, Cavilon at Medisave

If you are usually an anti-ageing geek, consider quitting aggressive ingredients such as retinol or exfoliating acids. It’s motivating to know that pausing your use of these ingredients from time to time can actually increase their effectiveness. If your skin is not irritated but is acne-prone, a product with salicylic acid at the end of the day can help you maintain clear skin. Aveda’s Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant is a non-aggressive holy grail for dehydrated and irritated acne-prone skin. 

Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant, £19, Aveda

Aveda Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant HOW TO AVOID AND TREAT SKIN DAMAGE FROM PPE
The Naked Pharmacy Vitamin C HOW TO AVOID AND TREAT SKIN DAMAGE FROM PPE

Eat To Nourish Your Skin

Your diet can also help in the prevention of facial bruising. Vitamin C in the first place can help with the production of collagen, which stimulates the renewal of cells and helps repair wounds on the skin. We suggest food supplements, but you can buy British carrots almost all year round! Joking aside, integrating Vitamin C into your diet is key for your immune system too. Make sure you’re including vitamin C rich foods in your diet. Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and capsicums are rich in it, and they’re seasonal too. 

Pure Organic Vitamin C Immune Defence, £10, The Naked Pharmacy

by Cecilia Mezzi

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