Let’s face it: there’s very little joy to be had from wearing a mask. Which isn’t to say don’t bother—the far-off, vague joy of saving a stranger’s life should (obviously) be reason enough to keep that respiratory system firmly under wraps. And sure, you can match your mask to your outfit, or choose one with a fun slogan, or hide your hormonal acne. But if you’re still struggling to find the fun in mask-wearing, why not turn it into a beauty activity? Using your mask as a vehicle for skincare can help not just your complexion, but your motivation to carry on during this seemingly never-ending pandemic. It truly is the little things, after all.
The idea of wearing a sheet mask in public once seemed like a totally out-there concept. But now, with half our faces covered, why not reap the benefits of skin-boosting ingredients hiding below? It’s important to note that getting a mask wet can minimize its efficacy, so opting for hydrogels rather than conventional sheet masks can be a safer option so as not to render your essential mask unusable.
The Neutrogena and Oh! K Hydrogel masks are both affordable options. You can simply trim off the upper face area and save it to do at home, then place the bottom half across your nose, cheeks, and chin for the duration of your mask-wearing activity. Another great product is the COSRX Hydrogel Very Simple Pack. These smaller patches can be placed on any areas of the (lower) face that might need some extra TLC.
I’m also a huge fan of the DHC Bio-Cellulose Mask, which essentially treats every skincare concern you can imagine. It’s uber gentle, but deeply hydrating to dry complexions and soothing to irritated, acne-prone ones. The Mediheal Tea Tree Care Solution Essential Mask is also a total gift for times of skin stress, as it reduces inflammation without being harsh or drying.
My final recommendation is basically the whole Loops brand. Their hydrogel masks are among the best in the business—albeit a little more pricey. Their Weekly Reset is a perfect maintenance mask for keeping skin looking its best, while the Double Take is ideal for before a big event (if those even really exist anymore). The best part is these masks come in two parts, so you can just apply the lower half and save the upper for later.
Many are experiencing acne they’ve never seen before thanks to the generally unhygienic environment of underneath a mask. While changing out and washing your masks frequently is the real key to beating this pesky complaint, there are also some under-mask skincare tips that can help.
Regular exfoliation is key to preventing blocked pores. For those whose maskne means primarily blackheads, something salicylic acid-based like the Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant should work wonders. Simply swipe it on the entire under-mask area before putting on your (clean) mask to prevent pore-clogging throughout the day.
If it’s whiteheads and more painful zits that are causing you issues, I’ve been absolutely loving the SVR Sebiaclear Micro Peel. It combines the very exciting sounding lactobionic acid with 4% niacinamide, which helps treat active breakouts while also soothing the skin and minimizing redness.
And if it’s deeper, cystic-style maskne that’s causing you havoc, consider instead a benzoyl peroxide product. The Tula Go Away Acne Spot Treatment is extremely fast-acting, so it’s ideal to keep on you and dab on any areas of concern as soon as you feel a zit brewing. Just make sure to wash your hands and avoid touching your mask excessively!
Dried-out skin can be another symptom of your face being constantly covered. But occlusive, oily creams can feel really unpleasant underneath a face mask—plus, if they leave your skin too moist to the touch, they can actually make your mask’s protection less effective, too. The solution is a super hydrating gel moisturizer, the best of which can deliver as much hydration as something thicker while still sinking in within seconds.
The Antiopdes Baptise Ultra Hydrating Gel Cream and the Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream are two favorites of mine. Time and time again, these creams have offered thirsty skin the drink of water it needs, before vanishing completely, leaving behind a juicier, less tight, and more luminous complexion. And for those on a budget, I still stand behind the CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion as one of the greatest hydrating yet bafflingly lightweight lotions on the market.
If your mask ends up causing your skin to get angry, there are a few standout products I’ve found to soothe irritated skin. You can apply any of these underneath a mask and allow them to sink in throughout the day. The Avene Skin Recovery Cream is a great soothing moisturizer, so it can be taken all over the face.
For more severe patches of red, sore skin, the Eucerin Acute Care Cream is ideal, offering instant relief and also continuing to heal the skin throughout the day. I’m also a big fan of the British diaper rash cream Sudocrem for quickly soothing and healing rashes or other patches of irritation. And if you’re really feeling flush, the May Lindstrom The Blue Cocoon is an amazing healing ointment that smells like a bakery—but with a rather eye-watering price tag.