Let's Be Honest: The Mask-ne is Real.
Acne has taken on a whole other being. Because we now have MASK-NE. Acne from these darn masks that we are wearing because of Covid-19. While I am 100% pro to wearing these masks because they are helping to save millions of lives during this time, my skin is really taking a beating from them.
The last time I had any kind of acne was when I was 14 and going through puberty. Even when I did have teen-acne it was never terrible or painful. Once it got to then point when I was getting self conscious and could not find a way to improve it, a low-estrogen birth control pill thankfully seemed to be the trick. Until this March, I was on birth control for about 11 years. I decided to finally take a break from it in order to give my body some time to recharge and understand it's hormones again. Fortunately, I can gladly report that my BC free life is going very well, but I was a bit nervous starting from ground zero again in terms of my skin...I couldn't remember what my skin was like before being on the pill.
When Covid-19 hit earlier this year I didn't have any sort of acne and I firmly believe this is because I was eating well, trapped inside for months, and wasn't wearing a mask all day. The only time I'd need a mask is if I went for a quick run to the store or for walk. I remember watching the news and listening to friends in the medical field who were having to fight through this terrible acne that they were starting to get because of the masks that they needed to wear during their long shifts. I never thought I would end up eventually wearing a mask for long hours just like them. And then I accepted a teaching position. When I first started working at school a couple of months ago I was pretty worried about wearing a mask all day, not just for myself, but mainly for the young kids that I'd be working with. I would ask myself each day how a three or four year old could possibly be okay with wearing a mask everyday for multiple hours!? Luckily, the children have been wearing them like professionals and are very responsible.
It was an adjustment on my end to get used to this new way of working, but after a couple of weeks I didn't even notice that I was wearing a mask anymore. However, once I'd get home from work and see my skin in the mirror I started getting upset. At first my skin just seemed super oily and dewey (not in a good way) from basically breathing on myself all day, but then as the weeks past I began to get cystic pimples (which are literal skin demons). I started feeling very self conscious when having my mask off at home in front of my family, during lunch in the teacher's lounge, or just when hanging with my friends and watching football. I even started to put on concealer when around the house because I didn't want my family or friends pointing my skin out...but they still did (thanks, Dad).
As the acne continued to erupt on my face (good adjective, right?), I tried thinking less negatively about it and started having conversations with others. During lunch I would ask other teachers what they were doing to keep their skin healthy. I also asked my nutritionist to hear her thoughts. To keep it simple though, I came to the conclusion and realized that just about everyone is going through the year of mask-ne and we are all trying different tactics to manage it. Most of us have all agreed on the below to keep our skin the best it can be right now:
1. Do not wear make up under your mask...or at all.
For me, makeup isn't even necessary at work wince I am working with three and four year olds. The only time I'm wearing makeup is if I am going out to dinner or have something special to do.
2. Wash your face as soon as you get home.
I try to wash my face as soon as I walk into the door. Even if I have to right right back out for the gym, I still wash my face to get the day's gunk off.
3. Throw used masks in the wash daily and pick up a clean one to use for the next day.
This is the largest lesson I have learned over the past few months. You need to use a new mask everyday. For a while I was reusing my masks for days before throwing it in the wash...that was not a good idea. Now, when I get home from work I throw my mask in my dirty bin and have fresh clean ones ready to go for the next morning when I walk out of the door.
4. Pamper your skin on the weekends.
I do everything that I can on the weekends to give my face some love. I try to go for fresh air walks where I don't need to use a mask, my new neighborhood is very much in the woods and there is lots of space to walk without a mask. I also make sure to use some rejuvenating face masks and only wear makeup if it is a must! I find that my skin is a little more calmed down and back to normal by the end of the weekend.
5. Use masks that are made of an organic material.
I try to use 100% cotton face masks as much as possible. I find that while these may be a little more thick, they do not make my skin super oily and irritated. I've heard many different views about this point however! Some people have said that using a different disposable mask each day works better for their skin!
6. Keep drinking your water!
Over the last week my skin has started to clear up a bit. Unfortunately I do a lot of picking to my face and I did especially to the cystic pimples (which actually popped...they never usually do but I think the moisture of being under a mask helped with this...sorry for the level of grossness), so there is a good amount of dark marks and scarring. I am currently trying to figure out a good method to clearing those leftover blemishes.
At the end of the day, I am learning to be more comfortable with this skin that I currently have because guess what...I am thankful to at least just be healthy and safe right now! What is most important is that I have the ability to work hard each day to provide a fun and safe environment for these kiddos. If that means I need to wear a mask everyday for the next year in order for things to run smoothly and with that comes some acne...then so be it. While I may be insecure at times with some of these bumps, it is what it is and it will *hopefully* not last forever. Just some battle scars that I'll keep smiling through.