Got Maskne? Skin-Care Rituals in the Time of COVID-19
Just like brushing and flossing, the basic skincare requirements of cleansing, toning/pH balancing, re-hydrating/moisturizing and SPF are essential and minimalist components of a daily self-care routine. In the “new normal” of this COVID-19 pandemic, these four basic steps are more important than ever as we repeatedly “don and doff” face masks, risking mask acne or “maskne”, caused by the mechanical irritation of rubbing the oil, germs and dirt from our skin into our pores.
Wearing a clean mask daily is another essential part of basic skin care these days. In the harsh and unforgiving climate of the Arizona desert, our skin also struggles to control trans-epidermal water loss and minimize ultra-violet (UV) damage when out of doors.
Another skin-damaging factor may be the blue light emanating from our computers and cell phones. Research has shown that long-term exposure to concentrated sources of blue light can promote stressors in the skin, leading to color changes, inflammation and weakening of the skin’s surface. In other words, photo-aging—that is, aging from exposure to light. This means that even though many of us may now be tele-commuting from our home office in our PJs, it’s not a free pass to neglect our skin or not wear sunscreen.
So, what to do? It isn’t hard, but it does require commitment, consistency and attention to detail in order to achieve and maintain good skin health. We should clean our face at least daily with a mild cleanser suitable for our skin type and condition. Using an electric face brush with ultrasonic vibration may be useful not only for keeping pores refined, but also may help minimize lymphatic puffiness and epidermal oil collections called milia. Make sure that any brushes used on the face are washed daily and disinfected weekly.
Using a gentle toner or mild alcohol-free astringent helps “tone down the red” by bringing the skin back closer to its preferred environment of 5.5 pH. This allows the skin to recreate the “acid mantle”, a chemical barrier against external pathogens and inflammation. Even for those who consider their skin oily, it is important to rehydrate the skin after toning, with a moisturizer that replaces what was lost during cleansing. These two steps help normalize the skin’s oil production because the skin then doesn’t feel dry or alkaline and need to ramp up oil production to fix these problems.
Last but not least, and at least once daily in the morning, apply sunscreen—preferably mineral-based, minimum 30 SPF, which has the benefit of not stinging, so it can be applied liberally around the eyelids to prevent sun damage and lid sag.
Let these tried and true skin care routines become part of a daily self-care ritual. Caring for ourselves helps us look good and feel good, which we all need right now.
Suzanne M. Pear is a Nurse Aesthetician and Certified Quantum Energy Practitioner practicing at Pampered Skin Studio. Connect at 520-400-8109, [email protected] or PamperedSkinStudio.com. See ad, page 16.