A lot has been said about face masks. Countless arguments have been made for and against their common usage during the COVID-19 pandemic. The most recent studies determine that face masks are indeed effective in stopping the transmission of the new disease, keeping the saliva droplets that pass the virus contained inside the mask.
However, an unwelcome side-effect includes acne break-outs across the skin – particularly the parts that are covered by the mask (the nose, the cheeks, the chin, and mouth area).
The consequences of acne
For some, this acne is having a severe impact on their confidence, and even their livelihood. Yarden Sade, a musician and Instagram influencer, is maintaining a thriving Instagram account focusing on music, lifestyle, and well-being. “I’ve been dealing with acne since the sixth grade, and there have been times when it was better and times when it was worse,” she told us earnestly, flicking back a strand of long sandy hair over a delicate shoulder. “Masks make a lot of difference, I can feel them affecting my skin. I think that the fact we sweat so much underneath them is what causes our skin to break out.”
Her hazel eyes crinkled at the corners as she smiled. “A lot of people regard taking selfies and uploading stories as a shallow sort of business, but I don’t. I see the beauty in it, the true connection I get to have with so many people who can see my pictures and read what I have to say. I try to show the truer parts of life, something that’s not usually portrayed in the seemingly perfect life Instagramers have.”
The masks are a crucial part of winning the fight against the pandemic, but it makes life a whole lot harder when your face is your livelihood. “I don’t use body morphing apps like some Instagramers do, but I do edit out acne and pimples if they become too prominent,” Yarden said truthfully. “It’s important to be honest about these things. But mostly I have my acne under control, even now. I have a very strict skin regimen I stick to, especially since wearing masks has become an everyday occurrence. I make sure to air out my skin and clean it well after using masks, and I change my masks regularly. I know acne affects a lot of people’s self-esteem, and my message to them would be – keep your head held up high. You are strong, capable, and beautiful, with or without acne.”
Answering the questions
We reached out to a licensed cosmetician to get some answers as to why this happens and what can be done about it. Amalia Leshem, an Israeli-based cosmetician for the last thirty years, was kind enough to share her experience with us.
Why are people suffering from more pimples and acne breakouts nowadays?
“There are quite a few things to consider when it comes to facial skin. Due to coronavirus, all of our habits have changed. We’re eating differently than we were before, our routines look different, and we’re under a lot of stress. Combined, these things can affect the skin.
Masks aren’t helping either. Because of the trapped moisture of our breath, they’re creating a hothouse-like situation, opening up our pores and enabling more dirt and germs inside. This causes the skin to break out.
This happens even more often when people don’t change their masks as frequently as they should. I’ve met a lot of people who don’t change their masks every six hours as recommended, and their skin is paying the price for it. You need the mask to be clean, too, or the skin will become irritated.
Masks can also chafe the skin, irritating it and causing rash-like bumps. Fitting the masks to your size so that they don’t move around a lot is recommended so that this doesn’t happen.”
Certain types of skin need to watch out!
“Skin types which naturally have a lot of fat are prone to breaking out with pimples or acne. People with fatty skins exude more sebum, which is a type of fat that lingers under the skin. Their pores tend to be more open too. When that fat is mixed with the sweat and saliva trapped behind the mask, it can seep into the open pores and a sort of infection can occur, inflaming the skin. Basically, if you know your skin is sensitive or fatty, you need to watch yourself a lot more. A lot of people tend to confuse regular pimples with acne, and they’re really not the same thing. Those pimples centered around the mouth, chin and nose, which is exactly where the mask is, are likely caused because of the mask.
If you’ve been breaking out during the pandemic, make sure to use a light, water-based moisturizer for your face. Creams targeting people with fattier skins are lighter and recommended during this time. This is recommended because these creams can help the pores shrink, become less open and vulnerable to infections. “
Tips and tricks!
“Placing a tissue between your face and the mask helps soak some of the moisture created there. Change the tissue frequently, and don’t forget to change your mask every six hours! If you’re wearing a fabric mask, don’t neglect to wash it. It comes into contact with a sensitive part of the skin – your face – so you want it to be clean and sanitary.”
Touching your face with unclean hands – a big no-no
“Our skin has its own self-repairing process once we break out. When a pimple is created it has a thin layer that protects it, and that’s the body’s natural way of getting rid of it. But if you touch it with unclean hands, and usually unclean fingernails, and peel away that layer that’s right on the skin’s flora you create a sort of nook on the skin. These nooks have a higher chance of getting inflamed. Visualize yourself taking a cap off of a soda bottle – you’re exposing the drink to the outside world. This is nearly the same thing – you’re exposing a deeper level of the skin, and it gets infected easily as well as causes scarring a lot of the time. Do your best to not touch your face with unclean hands!”
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Amit Haim has been a make-up artist for the past 8 years, studying under Miki Buganim, a famous Israeli MUA. In her home studio, she’s styled and applied makeup to hundreds of brides and fashion editorials, working with all skin types. Here’s what she had to say about applying make-up despite wearing masks.
“Let’s start off with the make-up. A water-based foundation will create fewer pimples, even when compared to an “oil-free” foundation. Water-based is the way to go. Because some of the foundations inevitably wear off when using a mask, I recommend using a good, thick concealer on the eye area and powder the other areas of your face for an even complexion. The powder doesn’t wear off as easily with the mask as regular liquid foundations do. If you insist on using liquid foundation – powder it on top, at the very least.
Because our eyes are so present and seen during this pandemic, I think having fun and creative eye make-up is the way to go. Eyeliners or a signature eye shadow look. You can dress it up or down with mascara, glam eye-shadows, highlighting the waterline with eye-shadow, or touching it up with different colors at the crease. You can also use a creamy white or cream-colored eye-pencil at the bottom lash line to create a more open feel to the eye.
Your eyebrows are also very present, so filling them in with eye shadow or pencils is a great chance for a fuller look. There’s a recent trend of transparent mascara for eyebrows.
Despite the masks, I would make sure to keep wearing bronzer. It gives the face some structure and warms the skin tone. A little bit of blush is optional – we do sometimes take the masks off, and we want to look nice for that.”
How to hide pimples?
“Pimples tend to be red. To neutralize those red spots, we use color correctors. These are basically concealers, but they’re a different shade – such as green or yellow. These shades counterbalance the red. Lately, there are also primers that are color correctors, so the makeup holds better and you’re still getting to hide the red spots you want to be covered up. After using these correctors and the makeup, remember to powder it all so that the make-up stays in place.
Sometimes I even intentionally powder my mask where it’s going to sit on my nose, so less of the make-up on my face can cling onto the fabric.
When applying lipstick, I have a great tip! Apply the first layer regularly – and then powder the lips. Yes, you heard that right! Now, put another layer of lipstick. This causes the lipstick to become long-lasting and helps it not transfer onto the mask.
My number one tip for my clients is to make sure that they wear sunscreen, especially those with sensitive skins. Mask or no mask, sun damage is real and painful.
Also, change your mask every day, and if you know your skin is sensitive – change it twice a day. Changing masks is imperative to maintain clean and healthy skin. Wash your face at the end of every day to clean any residual make-up.”
Masks are here to ensure we all get through this pandemic safely, but it’s difficult to feel like the world around us is changing, even if it’s only temporary. We hope that this article contains as much useful information in it as possible to help whoever is out there reading this regain a slight sense of “normal”. You can look (and more importantly – feel) like the best version of yourself – even while there’s a pandemic raging on.
We’re here to keep you posted on the most relevant subjects regarding public health! Stay tuned for more.