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Vi-Brow Is The New Maskne – Here's How To Handle It

Rule #1: clean your visor

'Maskne' has emerged as the number one skincare concern for those frequently wearing face masks. Friction from the fabric, the build-up of bacteria and sweat has resulted in a sudden rise of chin and cheek spots. But for those whose jobs or lifestyles call for face visors, there's now yet another skin concern to be wary of. 

From social distancing to working from home, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has already impacted so many elements of our daily lives. But as lockdown restrictions ease, more adjustments have to be made. One of which involves wearing a face covering on public transport, in shops, libraries, cinemas, and museums, as well as businesses such as nail bars, hairdressers, dry cleaners, bookmakers, tattoo parlours and when in places where it is difficult to stay to metres apart from people outside of your household. 

Those exempt from the rule are children under 13, workers who are separated from others by a screen or are able to keep two metres away from others and those with mental or physical disabilities. Those who do not comply could face fines of up to €2,500 or six months in jail.

Whether you decide to make your own cloth covering at home or buy a mask online, you are likely to soon discover that, in addition to keeping you safe, face masks can cause some less than desirable and uncomfortable side effects when it comes to your skin.

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Because of this, we're seeing the rise of an alternative face covering: the face shield or visor. They're widely used to protect workers in shops, bars and beauty salons from the virus. And although they keep those pesky spots surrounding your mouth and chin away, they too are not without their skin woes. 'Vi-brow' is now a phenomenon amongst visor wearers which refers to the cluster of spots along the forehead and eyebrows. The build-up of oil and swear under the face shield's headband is the result of these breakouts.

Below, we chat to top dermatologist, Professor Caitriona Ryan, Institute of Dermatologists, about what do in order to keep vi-brow spots at bay.

1. clean your visor – properly

Unlike face masks, you can't just pop your visor in the washing machine at 60°. Therefore, a lot of the time, face shields are not being cleaned - or at least not properly. The lining of the headband is the main place where bacteria, oils and sweat will build up and eventually result in breakouts. Whenever you remove your shield – be it on your lunch break or at the end of the day – clean the lining. Use a gentle soap or shampoo with warm water and wipe thoroughly. Just be sure that the soap or shampoo has been washed off or it may irritate your skin further. 

2. wash your face

Now, more than ever, it's important to keep our skin as clean as possible. If you're wearing a visor, try to avoid wearing makeup - especially around the forehead. "Before wearing your mask, wash your face with a gentle cleanser, apply an oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturiser, ideally with hyaluronic acid and ceramides to protect the skin barrier," advises Professor Ryan. 

3. cleanse again

Just because you're not wearing as much – if any – makeup doesn't mean you can skip out on cleansing. "After taking off your mask, I recommend a double cleanse," says Professor Ryan.  "This will also ensure any prescription products such as topical antibiotics/retinoids (which are to be applied afterwards) will penetrate the skin more readily. Cleansing with a gentle cream-based cleanser allows a deeper cleanse of the pores. For those will oily skin, using a cleanser containing salicylic acid can help to remove oily residue, debris and build-up of skin cells."

4. start using retinol

Retinol is the go-to acne-fighting ingredient dermatologists have turned to for years and while it can be irritating, Professor Ryan says you can still use it on maskne if you do it properly.

"Introduce retinol at night to reduce blackhead activity, normalise keratinisation of the pores and decrease inflammatory lesions. I tell my patients to use a quarter pea-sized amount every second night to their forehead, chin and cheeks (avoiding the sides of the nose and around the mouth where dryness can occur), followed by a regular moisturiser."

5. treat existing spots with a face mask

Remember when 'face mask' used to conjure up images of Sundays spent on the couch, binge-watching Netflix and applying a hydrating, radiating lotion to our faces and letting it soak in for 1-20 minutes? Well, it's time to start reclaiming that narrative. "Using a balancing acid-based mask such as Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant two to three times a week can help reduce breakouts while improving skin texture," advises Professor Ryan. 

Main image by @javiera on Instagram

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