Skincare under your mask!

With rules about face masks in place in supermarkets, shops, schools and on public transport, it's our new normal to see people wearing them all the time. We've all seen images of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers after long shifts - and how their masks have caused acne, marks and bruises - but is it possible that even wearing masks for a short period of time can cause skin irritation and breakouts?

We asked Laura Arena, of NuVo Aesthetics, for her specialist advice about how to help prevent 'maskne' (yes, it's a real thing!) and what kind of material or fabric to use when buying or making your mask.


As a nurse who is wearing a mask routinely now both in my NHS role and at my aesthetic practice, I wanted to know how wearing a face covering could affect my dry, acne-prone skin and how I could advise clients having similar problems.

Face coverings foster a micro-environment of increased humidity, friction and heat and they can cause irritation, especially in people with underlying skin conditions.  Of course, the obvious benefit of preventing the spread of Covid19 outweighs the risk of some skin damage but it is worth thinking about how to protect the skin to prevent you needing to stop mask wearing.

Think about the face covering material..

For the times when a disposable surgical mask is not necessary such as shopping or on public transport, a mask made from a cotton material instead of synthetic fabric is more breathable for the skin but consider one with more layers and one that is made of tightly woven material so giving more protection. Layer it up!

Give your makeup some time off..

If you know you will be wearing the face covering for an extended period, there is no need to wear make up under it – the make up particles will just be pushed into the pores by the mask and mix with the humid environment blocking the pores, possibly leading to acne. Stick to splashing out on that new blue shadow!

Keep you skin clean and moisturised..

In order to maintain healthy and active skin, you need a good cleanser, vitamin C serum, retinol, a suitable moisturiser and a good facial sunscreen (the UV rays can still penetrate through the mask). Make sure to give your skin time to absorb the products - NHS England advise their staff to moisturise at least 30 minutes before putting on a mask to prevent the product building up under it. And, as well as your usual morning and evening skincare routine, a gentle cleanse when removing the mask is an additional way to protect the skin, but always follow with hydration to keep the moisture barrier healthy.

So in these mask-wearing times it is as important as ever to look after your skin so you can carry on wearing a face covering without irritation or skin flare-ups.


About Laura Arena

Laura is an NHS nurse and owner of NuVo Aesthetics - a clinic offering wrinkle-reducing injections, dermal fillers, lip enhancement, ProfHilo® and AlumierMD® skincare and chemical peel treatments . 

She is Harley street trained and am a member of the British Association of Cosmetic Nurses (BACN) and Aesthetic Complications Expect Group (ACE).

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