February 04, 2022

The Mask Mandate is Back – Here’s How to Alter Your Skincare Routine

The mask mandate is finally back in the Twin Cities, which means it’s time to talk about our skincare once again.

First off, we’re a pro-mask family. Wearing a mask is the least we could do to help keep each other safe. However, I gotta admit having to wear masks again in the dead of Midwest winter can present skin-related challenges.

Please note that I’m not an esthetician. I am just your humble former Seph*ra skincare consultant who happens to be overly obsessed with beauty products. (Just ask my husband! Or better yet, take a peek in my bathroom.)

And if you have skin like mine, it’s probably dry right now. And now it’s breaking out because you’re wearing a mask for hours on end or *winces * working out in group fitness classes.

Now is a unique time for seasonal skincare routines! On one hand, you’ve got the the freezing arid temperatures outside—which usually coincide with dry heat cranked up inside—and on the other hand, you have a tropical greenhouse happening underneath your mask. Which means you may be experiencing conflicting concerns like dryness and congestion (those pesky little bumps or clogged pores that don’t necessarily evolve into acne but also don’t leave as quickly as I want them to). Factor in hormonal acne if you have it, and boom, you’ve hit a trifecta of frustrations.

If this sounds like you or someone you love, keep reading for my favorite products and tips for keeping your skin as happy as a moisturized, blemish-free—yet masked!—clam.

We will get through this together (me talking to my face, and also to you).

Products linked here are not affiliate links.

Tip #1: Double Cleanse!

I’ve been experiencing a lot of congestion lately on my cheeks and jawline, a.k.a. mask territory, and the most consistent advice I’ve gotten to help with this is to double cleanse at night. If I’m feeling particularly self-motivated that means an oil cleanser like this one followed by a cream or gel-based cleanser like this or this. However, if I’m being honest, it usually looks like some good swipes of micellar water and then a quick cleanse with whatever is within arm’s reach. Currently that’s this bad boi. And this guy once a week. (Benzoyl Peroxide is extremely effective against acne-prone skin but also extremely drying, try not to go overboard in the winter.)

Tip #2: Avoid over exfoliation!

It’s very tempting to reach for physical exfoliants when your skin is feeling bumpy—there’s a reason why people love that apricot scrub! However, scrubbing your face raw is a no-no when your skin is feeling parched from subzero temperatures. Instead, I recommend a chemical exfoliant like this or this. Used like a toner, this step is applied at night after cleansing and then followed with a good moisturizer. Don’t forget sunscreen during the day! SPF 15 in your foundation doesn’t really count, but for the sake of checking off this box, fine.

Tip #3: Slugging(?!)

I am not on TikTok and I am definitely not Gen-Z, but thankfully, through our #girls channel on Slack, I feel like I can stay somewhat relevant to what’s been trending on social media. And one of those TikTok trends is called slugging. Not to be confused with the K-beauty ingredient snail mucin (mucus!), slugging is a step in your routine where you “seal your skin” with vaseline or another petrolatum-based product. I personally use Egyptian Magic as I’m an Elder Millennial who was made to believe anything derived from petroleum was the devil—it’s been debunked, but old habits die hard! Whatever product you feel good about slugging your face with, just know that a little goes a very long way, and to be careful with your pillow cases as it won’t fully absorb like most moisturizers (which is very much the point). Slugging is an essential step for anyone who suffers from dry skin, and has been known to help with eczema as well.

Tip #4: Wash your masks!

This is much more a PSA and less of a tip, but seriously, wash your masks. Or better yet, use KN95 masks that are disposable or be reused (if cleaned properly). Not only are these babies clinically proven to better protect against the formidable Omicron variant, they also don’t sit directly on your mouth! Whatever you go with, just please try not to resort to the crusty dude at the bottom of your bag or the one stuffed in your pocket that’s been there who knows how long!

Other products and tips worth mentioning:

These suggestions are by no means a one-size-fits-all recommendation. However, they have helped me personally get over my skincare woes during this seemingly never-ending pandemic. (I’ve got plenty of other woes to worry about!) I do hope some of these help you as well! And if you ever want to talk skincare, I’m always game!

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