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2020 has thrown all of the oddities at us, and aside from the recent announcement of the
end of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, irritated, acne-prone skin by way of isolation
and mask-wearing was one we could have never predicted.
Like our skin (and our lifestyles!), our routines have had to change. This has been recognised by
the MECCA community, and by the Australasian College of Dermatologists and the
Occupational Dermatology Research and Education Centre, who recently published their tips and
guidelines to minimise skin problems in the age of mask-wearing.
We took these into consideration in a long chat with our skincare education manager (and resident
skin genius), Lucy Shaw, to compile a comprehensive, MECCA-fied guide on how to navigate your
skincare routine while staying COVID-safe and wearing a mask.
“When selecting a gentle cleanser,” advises Shaw, “opt for a formulation that is water-free and
sulphate-free, as this won’t risk over stripping or causing any further irritation.” Her
recommendations include Kate Somerville’s Gentle Daily Wash, which “skips the sulphates and
instead works to replenish skin with plenty of ceramides and amino acids that help the skin
barrier to recover.”
Another tip from Shaw is to use cool to lukewarm water when cleansing—this will help to “keep any
inflammation calm and prevent moisture loss.” “You can even skip using tap water all together
and use the Dermalogica
UltraCalming Cleanser which can be applied onto dry skin and tissued off,” perfect for
extra sensitive, irritated skin.
The Australasian College of Dermatologists and the Occupational Dermatology Research and
Education Centre recommends we avoid toners if our skin is experiencing irritation due to
wearing a mask, and Shaw agrees that you might need to take a different approach.
“Traditionally, toners have been used as an extension to your cleansing routine to remove excess
oil and prep the skin,” she says. “If your skin is feeling red, raw and irritated from a mask,
try a different approach and opt for an essence that will instantly soothe and infuse hydration
to help your skin heal and recover.”
Single Extract Essence is a powerful blend of fermented green tea, which, according to
Shaw, makes the anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and healing effects of green tea subsequently
more potent. “If you need an extra boost of lightweight hydration and an overall glow,” she
says, “the Glow Recipe
Watermelon Glow Ultra Fine Mist has you covered as the two phase ultra-fine mist is
packed with hydrating hyaluronic acid but won’t congest or clog pores thanks to the gentle
hibiscus exfoliating AHA.”
Not sure on the difference between an essence and a toner? Read this.
“Hydration is so important when your skin is under stress from friction and a feeling of
asphyxiation,” says MECCA’s skincare education manager. “Just make sure you select a lightweight
moisturiser that will easily absorb, rather than sitting on the surface of the skin, which might
put you at risk of an unwanted breakout.” The official document agrees, recommending simple,
oil-free formulations, and of course, SPF. If your SPF is hydrating (like To Save Face SPF50+
Superscreen), they say, “you don’t need to double up.”
In terms of choosing a formula, you want something that will ensure a stronger skin barrier, as
this will improve your skin’s ability to heal and recover. “Volition Beauty’s Celery
Green Cream is packed with cucumber, green tea and celery extract that not only hydrate
but also soothe and calm,” says Shaw. Other great options include Kiehl’s Ultra Facial
Oil-Free Gel Cream and Dr. Dennis Gross’ Hyaluronic Marine Oil-Free Moisture Cushion.
Even though you should already be doing this, consider this your reminder: sanitise your hands
before and after putting on and taking off a mask, and, once the mask is on, do not touch it.
The same goes for your face. It’s also important to limit the amount of time you do wear a mask,
so if you’re wearing one for extended periods of time, make sure to give your skin a five-minute
break every few hours.
If you’re experiencing a bit of friction, the Skin Health Institute suggests moisturising at
least 30 minutes before you put on your mask. Shaw recognises that for many people, the friction
appears on their lips, making them look and feel dry and chapped. If this is you, reach for a
reliable, non-sticky balm, and glide on a super light layer. Shaw’s go-tos are By Terry Baume de
Rose and Mecca
Cosmetica Lip De-Luscious Glide.
For those in-the-know, blemish spots and patches have been the MVP of 2020. Hidden by your mask,
they create the ideal environment to heal a blemish, while keeping bacteria out and
preventing it from spreading onto your mask and into other areas. Shaw recommends the Patchology Breakout
Box—“it’s an absolute go-to if you’re having unexpected breakouts as it is a multi-use
SOS kit that can target different types of breakouts such as pimples, blackheads and whiteheads.
It really has you covered.”
READ MORE: Acne flaring up? Try these MECCA-favourite
Once you get home, Shaw advises to wash your face immediately, ensuring that your skin is in a
“cleansed state” for longer than it is a masked one. “Before bed,” she says, “apply something
super nourishing such as REN's Evercalm Overnight Recovery Balm, Herbario’s Moisturising
Balm or Cosmetics
27’s Baume 27 – these will place a protective seal over the skin to help boost its
ability to heal and recover overnight.”
If you prefer a cream texture to a balm, Shaw suggests using your favourite moisturiser with a
lightweight oil mixed into it, “like Sunday Riley’s Juno Antioxidant + Superfood Face Oil”. The oils and
ceramides will help to create a second skin so that any damage has a better chance to repair.
READ MORE: Ceramides: what they are, and why you need them in your skincare
If you suffer from mask-induced acne (or as we now know it, ‘maskne’), the Australasian
College of Dermatologists recommends spot treating with lightweight gels, formulated with
ingredients like salicylic acid, niacinamide and zinc. Dr. Dennis Gross’ DRx
Blemish Solutions Breakout Clearing Gel ticks all the boxes. “If you need to take care
of a few pimples, says Shaw, “use these treatments at night when your skin has a better
opportunity to repair.”
READ MORE: If your skin is breaking out due to wearing a protective mask, we’ve
got some tips
If your skin is flaking or slightly irritated, our resident skin guru suggests acting with
caution when it comes to layering on ingredients like AHAs, BHAs and retinols. “These irritated
areas can be ‘hot spots’ for acids and retinols to get into, and you may feel a stinging
sensation because of it.” If you’re in a long-term relationship with your serums and solutions,
Shaw recommends “saving your actives for the eye area and forehead,” and sticking to a simple
routine of cleansing and hydrating on the lower half of the face.
If you’re struggling with mask-induced irritation and would love personalised advice on how
to calm, treat, and nourish your skin, don’t forget you can chat to an in-store MECCA expert
via the icon in the bottom right corner of your screen, or, you can book in a complimentary
virtual skin consult here.
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