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What Happens to Your Skin When You Wear a Mask

A board-certified dermatologist lends insight on what could happen to your skin when wearing a face-covering.
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This summer is going to be hot and, unfortunately, we're all going to have to wear masks in order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. However, for some, the heat paired with the mask may cause the skin around your mouth and chin to become irritated. For those already susceptible to breakouts, wearing a mask could potentially make them even worse and more frequent.

Elizabeth Mullans, M.D., and Board-Certified Dermatologist practicing in Houston, Texas, explains how a face-covering could irritate your skin. She also provides tips on how you can best take care of your skin this summer so that you can feel comfortable while wearing a mask.

We know that wearing a mask is mandatory right now, but how could a mask affect your skin?

"Masks trap sweat and moisture which along with friction from the fabric can disrupt the skin's protective barrier," says Mullans. "This can result in irritation of the skin."

In addition, residue from laundry detergent can embed into the fabric of the face-covering, which can also cause irritation on your skin. For this reason, Mullans suggests using a hypoallergenic detergent such as Arm and Hammer Free and Clear Sensitive Skin to avoid any adverse reactions.

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What kind of mask is best to wear right now?

"The best masks will contain several layers of fabric," says Mullans. "Cotton is the best fabric on the inner lining touching the skin because it is less irritating than synthetic materials."

If you're looking for a new mask, consider checking out one of these 5 Best Food-Themed Face Masks to Buy, most of which are made with at least 50% cotton.

What skincare routines should one pick up in order to keep their skin healthy?

In this instance, the fewer products you wear, the better off your skin will be as you will avoid clogging your pores.

"Make sure to keep a benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid gel to spot treat pimples and also try to cut down on carbohydrate and sugar intake which can also cause breakouts," says Mullans.

She also recommends washing your face twice a day and immediately after wearing your mask.

"Acne-prone individuals may benefit from cleansers that contain salicylic acid," she adds. "Avoid heavy moisturizers and makeup in the areas covered by the mask."

Anything other tips?

Mullans says that masks should be washed after each use in hot water with detergent and white vinegar, as it is believed to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.

Now you can feel more confident wearing a mask this summer by employing these helpful skincare tips.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
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