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Behind the Mask: Skin Care in a Pandemic World

Just when #newyearnewme was trending after January, it was not long until #covid, #pandemic took over. The world basically shut down in March. #quarantine made it into the mix, as well as #workfromhome. The switch from working in a physical work environment to our couches was hard! One good thing to come out of it was a return to the practice of self-care. With the world slowed down, we finally lost the excuse of having no time to take care of ourselves mentally, spiritually, and physically. It took time, but we all adapted to a new norm. However, our new norm came with a few bumps along the healthy skin road.

Enter Zoom and Teams calls. People say that the camera adds ten pounds to your face. Maybe, but since most of us are not wearing a full face of makeup for every video call, your otherwise muted pores all of a sudden look like moon craters; not to mention the heightened appearance of undereye bags, uneven skin tone, pigmentation (melasma and sun damage), and wrinkles.

The pandemic has also ushered in a new phase of pimples and a brand-new name for it–maskne! When we need to leave the domicile, masks are required. If you are back in a workplace, you certainly cannot take them off. Most of the working population is wearing them 10+ hours a day. Masks create a breeding ground for bacteria on your face causing acne breakouts, and dry cracked skin. Masks are here to stay for a while and for good reason. There is proven science showing they are one of the best defenses we have against spreading COVID-19. We need to rethink our skincare habits with masks in mind.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the pandemic has done to our skin, but these are the most reported problems from our patients. Since we are now spending more of our time taking care of ourselves, we can certainly combat these with a little patience and good practices.

Your Skincare Routine Essentials

If we are not wearing full faces of makeup all day anymore, there are quite a few things to help you achieve clearer, more even toned skin. Establishing a quality skincare regimen is essential. Since we are now staying close to strict budgets, effective products do not need to break the bank! Any skincare regimen should be built along core products, and those are antioxidants, retinols, and sunscreen.

  • Antioxidants help to break down free radicals, which are basically tiny molecules in the environment that damage our cellular structure. This can be from unprotected sun exposure, air pollution, chemicals, smoking, or poor diet. Antioxidants can also help to brighten the skin, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and calm irritation.
  • Retinol products help to improve skin texture, pigmentation, and even skin tone. Retinols work by exfoliating the skin. Retinol has gotten a bad rap for causing severe irritation and dryness, which makes most people want to avoid using them. When the correct retinol for your skin type is chosen, that should not occur. It is one of the building blocks of building healthy skin.
  • Sunscreen is the number one way you can protect your skin from premature aging (like wrinkles, sagging skin, and sunspots). More importantly, it decreases your risk of skin cancer and precancers. Blue light from our computers, tablets, and cell phones can also contribute to health of your skin. The more time we spend on our devices, we can contribute to photo aging, which like the UVA and UVB rays from the sun, can increase fine lines and wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. A broad based, physical sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide of at least an SPF 30 will offer the highest level of protection against the damaging rays of the sun as well as our devices.

Wrinkle and Frown Line Erasers

So maybe your skin is not bothering you, but your frown lines sure are. Wrinkle treatments like Botox® and Xeomin® can relax the muscles that are creating the angry “11” lines between your brows and relax the lines on your forehead. If you are concerned with the lines around your mouth, volume in your cheeks, or the size of your lips, injectable fillers are the perfect way to achieve natural rejuvenation without it looking obvious that you had something done. Long gone are the days of the frozen, overfilled housewife look! Laser treatments can also be incorporated into your treatment plan to achieve more accelerated results.

Help for your maskne

If you are starting to experience acne breakouts under your mask, it is important to not only keep your skin clean, but also your mask. The bacteria on your face will build up on your mask, making a super gross environment ripe for breakouts. It is important to use a mild face wash both in the morning and before you go to bed. Products that contain salicylic acid or glycolic acid will help to break up the bacteria that is causing your breakout. They can be drying, so it is best to use only a small amount. You may need prescription products depending on the severity of your acne. If your skin is getting super dry and cracked, moisturizers with ceramides and hyaluronic acid will hold moisture into your skin giving soothing relief. Make sure that you are washing your mask at least twice a week with a gentle detergent and let air dry. If you have disposable masks, make sure you are replacing them every few days.

— By Joelle Scales, Cosmetic Coordinator at SLSS, a Division of Schweiger Dermatology Group


Schweiger Dermatology Group features world renowned experts in the field of medical and cosmetic dermatology. Our talented team of providers will help you on your self-care journey by bringing your skin back to life. With over 65 offices around New York, New Jersey, Long Island, and Pennsylvania, we offer same day appointments both in office and via video visit. The health and safety of our patients is staff is our top priority, so our offices are employing enhanced safety measures should you prefer to be seen in office.

 
While we are doing our best to protect one another, it is important that we take the time to take care of ourselves. Call 844-DERM-DOC or find a location near you to schedule an appointment to achieve healthy skin.

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