At this point, you’ve probably gotten used to wearing a face mask when you’re out in public. Reaching for your cloth mask before you get out of the car is now automatic. You’ve even learned how to smile with your eyes in an attempt to show emotion.
One thing you may not be used to is the mental toll that your face mask has been taking on your self-esteem. From flare-ups of rosacea to stubborn acne breakouts around the mouth, wearing a face mask every day can trigger a variety of annoying skincare issues. Pair these problems with your quarantine hair (which likely hasn’t been cut in months), and it can be crazy difficult to look and feel good these days.
While it may be tempting to ditch the face mask altogether, there is research to suggest that it’s worth the effort. A study, published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found strong evidence that cloth masks can reduce air and surface contamination, thereby reducing the spread of COVID-19.
You want to protect your community and keep them safe. You also want to look and feel good about yourself. Lucky for you, there are ways to do both. Here are a few tried-and-true tips to help you look your best while wearing a mask.
1 Avoid Heavy Skin Care Products
If your acne has gotten a lot worse lately from wearing your face mask, you’re not the only one. The problem is now so common that there is a new name for it: maskne (mask + acne). The excess oil from your skin can mix with the increased moisture trapped under your face mask, creating the perfect storm for breakouts. And not to point fingers at your skincare regimen, but your oil-based skincare products probably aren’t helping the situation. To stop the breakouts, consider benching your heavier skin care products and switching to lighter formulas. You should see an improvement in a couple of weeks!
2 But Don’t Skip Your Moisturizer
If you’re rethinking your skin care routine, be careful not to overcorrect the problem by skipping your moisturizer altogether. Wearing a mask for hours on end can cause skin irritation and dryness due to increased friction. Applying a hydrating moisturizer to your face will help provide a thin barrier of protection that prevents chafe and skin irritation. To maximize your appearance, look for skin barrier-boosting ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and vitamin B3 (niacinamide).
3 Flex Your Style
When the CDC first announced recommendations for wearing a face mask in public, some of us had to scramble for whatever we had on hand. This led to some rather, shall we say, creative makeshift masks that may or may not have been effective. But it’s been months since that initial announcement. You’ve had plenty of time to order a stylish face mask that doesn’t make you look like a cowboy from a Western movie. Browse Etsy (a marketplace for handcrafted items) and find yourself a creative mask that showcases your personal style. As an added bonus, you’ll be supporting small businesses in these trying times.
4 Wear Smudge-Proof Makeup
Sure, you could simply go without makeup for a while, but keeping a routine is important for your mental health. If you’re determined to wear makeup under a mask, do it the right way by opting for smudge-proof products. Since most of your face is covered, go easy on the foundation. Instead, blend some concealer under your eyes. Follow up with a setting spray to keep it from budging, and you’ll look good all day.
5 Contain Your Neckbeard
When the CDC released this infographic, it sent bearded men everywhere running for their razors. But if you’re a hirsute individual, don’t stress! There is currently no evidence to suggest that having facial hair puts you at a greater risk of getting COVID-19. However, this does NOT mean that your neckbeard is suddenly off the hook. It wasn’t a good look pre-coronavirus, and certainly isn’t attractive when it’s peeking out from underneath your face mask. There are plenty of YouTube videos and articles that will teach you how to shape a beard so you can keep your neckline in check. No excuses!
6 Show Your Eyes Some Love
Since most of your face will be covered by a mask, you’ll want to pay extra attention to your eyes. The skin around the eyes is much thinner than the rest of your skin, which makes it susceptible to signs of aging and dark spots. To refresh your eyes, incorporate an eye cream into your skin care routine. Look for an eye cream with ceramides and caffeine to help tighten, smooth, and de-puff the skin around the eyes. You’ll seriously look years younger. The only downside is that you may get carded more when you buy alcohol.
7 Don’t Forget Your Brows
On a related note, don’t neglect your eyebrows. This goes for both men and women. To keep your bushy brows in check, take a tweezer to them regularly. You don’t need to go overboard—just pluck away the stragglers. Whatever you do, don’t wax your eyebrows. Waxing can be rough on the skin and may lead to ingrown hairs. Plus, there’s always the risk of doing it wrong and coming out of quarantine with only one eyebrow.
8 Exfoliate to Give Yourself a Faux-Glow
Is your skin looking a little pale and sallow from quarantine? If you want to achieve radiant skin, skip the unhealthy sunbathing, and try exfoliating your skin instead. A gentle face scrub can instantly brighten your skin by removing dead skin cells that can make your skin look dull and lifeless. For maximum radiance, follow it up with a hydrating moisturizer.
Word to the wise: go easy on the exfoliation. Use it once or twice a week maximum to avoid damaging your skin.
Face masks may be the new normal, but that doesn’t mean you need to give up on your appearance. With these tips, you can create a sense of normalcy as you strive to look good while wearing a mask. Don’t give up on yourself!