Covid-19 has impacted our lives in so many ways, from the way we work and go about our daily chores to what we eat and how we sleep. This hugely challenging period has done more than rewrite our schedules. It changed our priorities, altered how we feel about ourselves and the rest of the world, and even had a direct impact on the way we look.
As we discovered in a recent blog post, lockdown skin has been a reality for many individuals. But with lockdown measures now easing across most parts of the UK, we’re facing new skincare challenges…
The latest lockdown rules
As of the 24th July 2020, it is compulsory to wear face coverings in any enclosed public space in England. This means you’ll have to don your mask in shops, supermarkets, shopping centres, banks, post offices, bus and railway stations, and airports, or face fines of up to £100.
The most recent rule extends the use of face masks on public transport and is expected to be extended further still with museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship likely to become face mask only zones.
The wearing of face masks is just one of the many Covid-19 safety restrictions currently in use throughout the UK with individuals and businesses alike stepping up their use of hand sanitisation and social distancing.
Your skin under the mask
The use of a face mask may lower the risk of Covid-19 transmission, but it is also affecting the skin on our faces, especially when worn for prolonged periods.
We’ve all seen the terrible images of the bruises and skin injuries sustained by frontline NHS workers who have to wear personal protective equipment such as masks for long shifts. Whilst the reusable cloth masks and other face coverings worn by the public impact the skin in a different way, it is no doubt causing skin irritation for many. Here NYC based dermatology specialist Joshua Zeichner explains more about the impact of mask use:
“Masks have both direct and indirect effects on the skin. Direct friction causes disruption of the outer skin layer, leading to dryness and irritation. Masks also trap humidity, sweat, and oil on the skin contributing to acne breakouts and worsening of conditions like rosacea.”
The effects of mask use have seen the emergence of a new skin condition, aptly named ‘Maskne’, but there are several steps you can take to safeguard the skin on your face.
Looking after your face
You don’t have to overhaul your entire skincare regime, but focusing on the cleansing and moisturisation of your skin is vital.
Skin that is not sufficiently hydrated is more likely to become irritated due to mask use. Your moisturiser will provide a protective barrier, just be sure to choose a light moisturiser to ensure the skin underneath your mask doesn’t become too greasy.
During the summer months, sunscreen should form a vital part of your routine. Again make sure the sunscreen you use is light and preferably mineral-based as the humidity underneath your mask is likely to lead to breakouts when combined with a heavier sunscreen. Keep it light when it comes to your make-up too. Many make-up products tend to clog the pores to cause acne, pimples and blemishes. These issues can be exacerbated with the heat generated underneath a face mask.
Keeping your hands sanitised, especially when putting on or removing your mask is another must when minimising the number of bacteria that transfer from the hands to the face. You should also avoid touching your face as this can increase oil production to make your complexion greasy and more prone to breakouts.
Washing reusable masks and face scarves regularly will keep bacteria at bay. Use a non-biological detergent and launder on a hot wash or wash thoroughly by hand. Store clean masks in a clean place when not in use.
Taking care of your hands
Your skin may also be looking a little chapped and cracked on your hands due to repeated hand washing and hand sanitiser use. These practices are integral to Covid-19 safety but that doesn’t mean your skin has to suffer.
Excessive washing can deplete your skin’s natural protective barrier, which will leave your hands feeling cracked, dry, sore and irritated. It can cause the development of irritant contact eczema, a skin condition caused by soap and other cleaning products irritating the skin.
To ensure you keep bacteria in check and take care of the delicate skin on your hands, be selective about your hand wash and sanitiser. Choose moisturising hand sanitisers and hand wash that contains aloe vera and shea butter. Alternatively, opt for an antimicrobial cleanser, an anti-bacterial product that’s known for easing the skin of eczema and dermatitis sufferers.
You should make sure that you dry your hands thoroughly, as this can have a dehydrating effect on your skin that strips natural oils further. Wearing gloves can provide an extra layer of protection for sensitive hands, but only wear these for short periods as prolonged use can irritate the skin.
Last but not least, invest in a skin balm that gives your hands the TLC they deserve after repeated hand sanitisation and hand washing. Skin balms are particularly effective when nourishing, soothing and restoring dry, chapped skin. Our SOS Skin Balm and Lavender and Bergamot Skin Balm are favourites among NHS workers and are the perfect, all-natural products to show your hands lots of love!