To protect our most vulnerable populations, most of us are wearing masks right now. While each of us needs to do our part to prevent the spread of COVID, that does not mean that wearing a mask is comfortable.
Mask-generated irritation, redness, and breakouts are a reality for many of us right now. Fortunately, there are ways to care for your skin (and limit discomfort) while staying safe.
Masks Wreak Havoc on Skin
Whether it’s irritation on the top of the nose, dryness along the cheeks, or breakouts on the chin, masks can create skincare difficulties we thought we outgrew years ago. And it’s easy to see why: masks need to be tight-fitting to stay in place and provide optimal protection. The tradeoff, however, is that facial coverings make it difficult to breathe. They also decrease air circulation in the areas where the fabric touches your skin.
Finally, masks put extra pressure under the chin, beneath the eyes, and along the bridge of the nose, creating areas that are particularly susceptible to rubbing and irritation. If you have very sensitive or scar-prone skin, these issues can be even more pronounced.
3 Steps to Caring for Your Skin Under a Mask
If you’re wearing a mask for 8-12 hours a day right now, these tips can help keep your skin healthy despite it all:
1. First things first – focus on fit
To avoid unnecessary irritation, make sure your mask isn’t tighter than it needs to be. It should fit snugly across your face and fully cover your nose and mouth. There should be a minimum of gaps between your skin and the mask. If you want more detail on how to put on, take off, and wear a mask properly, check out the CDC’s guidelines on the topic.
2. Cleanse the skin daily
There’s no pretty way to put this: wearing a mask means we’re breathing our own bacteria all day, so it’s no wonder mask breakouts are a thing. In fact, they’re so common, they’ve even got a nickname: maskne.
Otherwise known as acne mechanica, maskne is a breakout that results from excessive friction and rubbing in a given area. Over time, this friction pushes bacteria into micro-tears in the skin, leading to inflammation that creates acne.
Generally, you’ll notice maskne breakouts in the area where the mask touches your skin – your chin, cheeks, and the bridge of your nose. To limit breakouts and irritation, be sure to cleanse your face each night.
We recommend using a gentle cleanser like this one or this one. Infused with charcoal to draw out oil and impurities, these formulas are effective enough to get rid of pore-clogging gunk without damaging your skin even further. You can also try one of our dew puffs, made from konjac root and designed to exfoliate, balance skin’s pH, and brighten the complexion. If your breakouts are severe, you’ll benefit from a weekly deep cleansing. Patchology’s Smartmud sheet mask is a gentle option. We also love their cult-favorite “Breakout Box.”
3. Protect the area
To help the skin heal, apply a rich facial cream twice daily. This creates a barrier between the mask and your skin and helps prevent ongoing damage. We recommend our Daily Vitamins Cream.
This product contains a cosmetic grade mineral oil, which creates a barrier, locking in moisture. Thanks to its natural antibacterial properties, it also helps minimize bacterial concentration on the face and under the mask, and stop breakouts before they start.
Protecting Your Skin and Your Health
While there may be no end in sight for our mask-wearing days, that doesn’t mean you have to live with irritation, breakouts, and painful sores. Simple things, like making sure your mask fits and adopting a proper cleansing and moisturizing routine, can help protect your skin and make wearing your mask a little less uncomfortable.
Take care of yourself during this unprecedented time! For a limited time, we’re offering free shipping on all orders of $50 or more. Shop our selection of new products now.
Right now, most of us are washing our hands much more frequently than usual. As the Coronavirus continues to spread, we’re all taking precautions to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and healthy.
One of the most significant precautions, according to CDC guidance, is handwashing. The only problem, though, is that all that hand washing takes a toll on the skin. Eventually, it leads to dry, cracked, chapped skin – and slathering on hand sanitizer isn’t making things much better.
Don’t worry, though – there are things you can do to protect your skin and help reduce the impacts of all this handwashing. Here’s what you need to know:
6 Hand-Saving Tips to Use While You Sanitize
Keep germs at bay and save your skin with these tips:
1. Use warm (not hot) water
Lots of people believe that hot water kills bacteria most effectively, which is not the case. The truth, though, is that hot water dries skin out. To keep your skin safe and get rid of germs, use lukewarm water instead of hot water.
2. Use skin-protecting soap
Some soap moisturizes more effectively than others. With this in mind, look for cleansers with a creamy, dense consistency and ingredients like glycerin and lanolin, which create a protective barrier on the skin and keep moisture in. Options like shea butter soap are also great for moisturizing without compromising cleanliness.
3. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
All the excellent handwashing practices in the world won’t do much unless you’re also moisturizing. Each time you wash your hands, slather on a thick moisturizer made with moisture-locking ingredients like shea butter, Calendula, and Comfrey. We recommend this all-purpose salve from Sope. Used regularly, it will restore nutrients in your skin and prevent painful cracking and dryness.
4. Look for deep moisturizing treatments
If you work in healthcare or another industry where you’re washing your hands regularly, a deep conditioning treatment could save your skin. Look for glove treatments, which allow you to seal your hand into a glove full of luxurious moisturizer. These treatments are perfect for unwinding at home and can help you avoid painful chapping and cracking.
5. Blot (don’t rub)
As a general rule, rubbing irritates the skin. With this in mind, take care to blot your hands dry after washing. While paper towels are the most absorbent material you can use, cloth will work just fine, as well. Take your time, here – patting the top, back, and sides of hands gently to remove water, rather than rubbing vigorously, which causes micro-abrasions that promote cracking and bleeding.
6. Avoid artificial fragrances
If you have very sensitive skin, do your best to avoid artificial fragrances in your hand soap and other skincare products. Perfumes are often alcohol-based, which can wreak havoc on sensitive or chapped skin. Instead, look for hand soap scented with natural fragrances, like essential oils which won’t strip or irritate skin.
If you have very sensitive skin and need to avoid fragrances altogether, look for unscented products, instead. We recommend our Ultimate Moisture lotion, which is great for hands and body.
Protecting Your Hands Made Easy
While handwashing is a good practice all the time, it’s especially critical right now. In addition to preventing the spread of illnesses and viruses, good handwashing practices help us promote healthy communities. If your hands are having a tough time keeping up with all the handwashing, though, these tips can help you restore and protect them.
By simply being mindful about the ingredients you put on your skin and replacing lost moisture with thick balms and salves, you can keep your hands healthy and happy – even when you’re washing them eight hundred times a day.
These are strange, scary times. Life as we know it has flipped on its head. Restaurants, bars, parks, gyms, and stores throughout our community and around the nation are closed. People have canceled travel plans, and grocery store shelves empty rapidly several times a week, and mental health everywhere is on the decline.
Most of us have never lived through anything like the COVID-19 outbreak, and, understandably, many of us feel intense fear, anxiety, and uncertainty.
If we’re going to get through this, though, we have to take care of ourselves. Fortunately, there are still many ways to do that, even if you’re self-quarantining or social distancing. Here are a few of our favorite tips to protect your mental health during this challenging moment:
1. Go outside
If you live here in the Flathead Valley, you know the weather has been beautiful, even while downtown businesses have shut down, and people have stopped coming together. While social distancing and self-quarantine are critically important to take care of our most vulnerable populations, you can still get outside and enjoy that sun.
At the time of this writing, community fixtures like the Whitefish Trail system and the Hugh Rogers Wag Park are still open, so get out there and get some sun. You can keep track of park and trail statuses on the City of Whitefish website.
2. Take a soothing bath
“There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them. Whenever I’m sad I’m going to die, or so nervous I can’t sleep, or in love with somebody I won’t be seeing for a week, I slump down just so far, and then I say: ‘I’ll go take a hot bath.'” – Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath was right. If ever there were a time for a hot bath, this is it. Not only does hydrotherapy reduce stress and lower blood pressure, but it can soothe aches and pains, promote better sleep, enhance your mental health and wellbeing, and provide some much needed time to “unplug.” Make your bath even more relaxing by tossing in some Epsom salts, bath oils, oatmeal, or anything else that will soothe your body and lift your spirits.
3. Cut down on media
There’s a difference between staying informed and binging disaster broadcasts. The former is smart, and the latter is crazy-making. With that in mind, limit your media intake to once or twice a day.
During the times in-between, get off of social media, play some music instead of listening to the radio, and avoid television. Fill that time with something productive and uplifting, instead. If you can work from home, focus on being as efficient as possible. If not, read a book, take an online class via EdX, or learn a new skill. Your stress levels will thank you.
4. Start a mini-mindfulness practice
Even if you’ve never practiced mindfulness before, now is a great time to start. Apps like Headspace and Shine (which features short meditations curated by women for women) make it easy to carve out some chill time in the middle of a tense global moment.
InsightTimer is another great meditation app, which features a brand-new talk by writer Elizabeth Gilbert on the topic of facing fear with compassion. While you’ll have to download the app to access the 23-minute recording, it’s so worth it.
Bonus: in the interest of promoting mental health, most of these meditation apps are waiving any existing membership fees right now, so you can get all the goods without stressing yourself financially.
4. Give yourself a mental health spa day
Maybe you can’t get your nails done or schedule a haircut right now, but you can set aside some time to pamper yourself at home. After you take that nice, hot bath we talked about earlier, slather on your favorite exfoliating mask. Finish the experience off with some rich body moisturizer, a nourishing facial serum, and a spritz of stress-busting rosewater.
5. Make your home smell nice
There are dozens of ways to do this. Cook a hearty, comforting meal, burn some sage, light up a candle that reminds you of summertime, or throw the window open to let in some fresh, spring air. Now is time to take comfort in the little things, and surrounding yourself with soothing scents is a great way to reduce stress and lift your mood.
We’re all in This Together
Eventually, the world will stabilize again. Businesses will open their doors, restaurants will start seating tables again, and we’ll regain the sense of community and security we know and love.
Until then, though, let’s do our part to keep vulnerable populations safe, be kind to those around us, and take care of ourselves in the process. Let’s all do our part to preserve our mental health, so we can be productive, loving members of society – as it were. If you’re struggling with stress or anxiety right now, the five tips in this post are practical, simple ways to make everyday life a little more comforting.
If you want to reach out and extend that comfort to the people around you, there are dozens of ways to do that, too. Donate some money to your local food bank, place an online or take-out order at your favorite small business. These are trying times, but we can make them easier by sticking together.