For some, the search feels all the more urgent with the rise of “maskne,” the unwanted phenomenon that has seen areas normally covered with PPE masks now harbouring painful blemishes.
"'Maskne' is a form of acne around the lower half of the face caused by wearing masks," skin expert Ciara Darcy tells Irish Tatler.
"Friction against the skin along with a humid environment creates an ideal location for bacteria to thrive. Causing spots; blackheads, whiteheads and pustules."
What we can do about wearing masks is pretty limited for now, but the options to treat painful pimples are forever available.
Here's what Ciara suggests:
1. Cleanse with a gentle cream cleanser then use a salicylic acid face wash
Concentrate the salicylic acid on the area that needs it, leave it on the skin for 20-30 seconds before rinsing. Follow with a hyaluronic acid serum. Choose oil-free serums and moisturisers. Micellar water will dehydrate your skin further and overtime cause redness, sensitivity and irritation.
Avene has a full range of products that are hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, they are also easy to find in your local supermarket or chemist.
2. Treat each part of your face separately
Continue to use the same products that you had been using on your forehead and around your eyes. On the lower half of your face reduce how often you use retinol, lactic acid and glycolic acid. Over-exfoliating the skin will cause more irritation.
3. Wear SPF every day
Your skin barrier is the outermost layer of the epidermis; its job is to protect us from pathogens such as bacteria, fungus and fungi. When your skin barrier is compromised, skin conditions such as sensitivity occur. To rebuild any damage can take time, SPF every day – even indoors – is important because it will create a protective barrier for your skin.
4. Avoid exfoliating products on any areas that are irritated
Friction from the masks can cause damage to the skin. When the skin is broken it is not advised to use any products containing Lactic acid, Glycolic acid or Retinol.
5. Try not to pick spots
This will spread bacteria meaning you start with one spot and the next day wake up with more. Picking will also lead to scarring (flat red marks left behind when the spot is gone).
6. Layer your moisture
Depending on how dry your skin is, layering serums and moisturisers before your shift is a good idea. Apply if possible 30 minutes before wearing PPE so they are fully absorbed. A barrier cream around the edge of your mask will help to reduce some friction to that area.
6. Swap one mask for another
Seoulista Super Hydration sheet masks are great for dehydrated skin, keeping them in the fridge will also help to cool irritation.
7. Drink lots of water
Your skin is the last organ to benefit from any water that you drink. It may not be possible to drink a lot during the day but it could be an idea to have a two-litre bottle ready to drink after your shift. Pait this with green leafy veg and essential fatty acids (avocado, nuts, oily fish) to help your skin from the inside out.
8. Ditch the tan on your face
Tan often leads to clogged pores and tan while wearing a mask most of the day will likely come out patchy and irritated.
9. Choose cotton or silk material masks
These will be far gentler on the skin for everyday use. Wash them regularly at 60 degrees.
10. Book a skin consultation
Ciara is an acne specialist, well-known on the Dublin skincare scene for bringing acne-scarred skin back to life by way of AlumierMD peels and microneedling.
To go into further detail, or discuss your specific needs with her, you can email Ciara on [email protected].
Main image by @monikh
READ MORE: Dear Derm: How Often Should I Exfoliate?