I’ve written a lot about sheet masks and clay masks, but these “unprecedented times” are calling for a different kind of mask knowledge. Wearing a face covering is something we can all do to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Wearing a face mask can be a big adjustment, especially if you have to wear one all day every day. And, unfortunately, dry skin, irritation, and breakouts can come with the territory. With the help our our trusty dermatological providers, I've put together some steps you can take to help your skin get through it.
If you’re experiencing acne around your mouth that gets worse from wearing a mask, it’s all about managing your breakouts.
1. Avoid potentially pore-clogging ingredients. Make sure that products you’re using on and around your mouth aren’t making your breakouts worse. That includes products like toothpaste, lip balm, and moisturizers. To start, google your skincare products for the ingredients and cross-reference them this handy list of potentially pore clogging ingredients to identify the comedogenic items in your skincare routine.
2. Wear a clean mask. The moisture and friction that comes with wearing a mask may contribute to breakouts. Likewise, a used mask covered with oil, sweat, and product buildup may also aggravate a breakout. So, wash your cloth masks regularly, and try your best to wear a fresh, clean mask every day.
3. Gently wash your face. Your instinct might be to scrub away your acne, but that friction might make things worse. You may want to try a zinc soap, that fights both bacteria and fungus, as acne may be aggravated by pityrosporum (a type of normal fungus that lives on our skin). You’ll also want to avoid harsh soaps or exfoliating scrubs — reach for gentle hydrating or foaming cleansers instead. More on this in a sec!
Do you have dry, irritated skin from wearing a mask? It’s probably being caused by 1) moisture/friction, 2) acne treatment medications, or 3) both.
1. Moisturize. Good moisturizers can help soothe skin. For extreme dryness/irritation, spread a layer of pure petrolatum like Vaseline or Aquaphor around the affected area before applying your mask. These moisturizers form a protective barrier around your skin. If your skin is only mildly dry, or petrolatum feels too heavy/greasy, skip to the next section for other moisturizer recommendations.
2. Reduce your acne treatment. Cutting back on your acne treatment may help reduce irritation. Over-the-counter treatments like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid can be effective, but might be too harsh for sensitive skin. If you are using a prescription acne treatment (like your Curology custom formula), reach out to your prescribing provider for assistance! You can also try applying your custom formula on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays.
Curology rich moisturizer (thicker, creamier texture)
Curology original moisturizer (lighter, gel-cream texture)
More questions about mask hygiene? Check out our support article on the topic. If you have a question that's not covered here, please reach out to your Curology medical provider or contact us directly.
If you’re not a member yet, you can get your first month of Curology for free. You’ll receive a customized cream with a mix of 3 active ingredients prescribed to you by one of our in-house medical providers. You can also add on our other products for no extra cost — just pay $4.95 (plus tax) to cover shipping and handling.*
Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
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Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C