Skincare – a cure for the common mask

Photo by Christin Hume

Just so we’re clear – we love masks. We’d wear two if we could, or if there was any scientific basis for doing so. That said, there’s no getting away from the uncomfortable truth – they really do mess with your skin. We can only assume that’s why Trump has avoided mandating them nationwide; no one likes a streaky face tan, and the man has built an empire on orange-fishing. You could be the most hydrated, well-nourished, well-rested person on the planet, and mask-induced acne (maskne) will still come for you. But don’t worry, we’ve got you – here are our top skincare tips for looking after your face as we enter this long winter. We swear by them, but if they don’t work for you, comfort yourself with the knowledge that no one’s going to see your chin till 2021. 

Tip no. 1 – The double cleanse 

Adele says: The only time you SHOULDN’T double cleanse is if you haven’t worn any makeup or any SPF all day. The only time you shouldn’t be wearing SPF is if you don’t step out of your house all day. So really, the double cleanse is a crucial part of your skincare routine to ensure a clear complexion. Think of your first cleanse as one to shift and loosen the makeup and grime on your skin and your second cleanse as one to really clean and remove the rest of the dislodged grime. Reminder: your face should never feel ‘squeaky clean’! There is no need to strip your epidermis. Try using an oil/balm cleanser as your first cleanse (yes, even with oily skin I promise!) and remove gently with a flannel. Second cleanse: try a gel or milk. Nothing too foaming, as they will be full of surfactants that do not help spots. Currently I am using and loving the Super Facialist Vitamin C + Brighten Skin Renew Cleansing Oil and Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Cleanser, which are also at student friendly prices. 

Tip no.2 – Drop some acid 

Chloe says: When those pesky pimples pop up (pun intended), it can be tempting to want to cover them up using concealer or foundation, but I would recommend laying off the makeup for a few days to allow your skin to breathe. To reduce the appearance of redness and preventing any new spots from forming, opt for face washes that contain salicylic acid, as this ingredient acts as an exfoliant, scrubbing away any dead skin cells or bacteria that can clog pores and cause more breakouts. If you can, try using a serum or product that contains Niacinamide (The Ordinary serum is my favourite!) after your cleanser, as this reduces the look of blemishes and balances the sebum activity in your skin. These tips are all about choosing the right, active ingredients that specifically target spots/acne rather than other various skin problems. 

Tip no.3 – Hydration is half the battle 

Yas says: When the weather gets colder, we all start layering up and we should be doing so on our face too! The temptation when the temperature drops is to pile on the heavy face creams as our skin starts getting tight or dry. However, a lot of the time just some extra layers of light hydration is all you need and going overboard will probably lead to a breakout (maskne we’re looking at you). Face mists are a great way to sandwich hydration between the layers of your skincare routine. Keeping it on your desk for those long study sessions will keep your skin nice and hydrated as the central heating blares. It’s also a fantastic way to spend a study break engaging in some selfcare! 

Tip no.4 – Calm it down 

Cathi says: Masks can wreak all sorts of havoc on your skin, so the best defence is a multi-pronged offence. First off, when looking for moisturiser or foundation, check the label and make sure it’s non-comedogenic. This means it won’t block your pores, somewhat mitigating the effects of living in a fabric pocket of your own recycled air.  Moisturiser is incredibly important as it protects the skin’s barrier, meaning it will be less reactive to irritation and cold weather – Cerave and Cetaphil have great options for sensitive skin. Once that’s taken care of, tea tree oil does absolute wonders for breakouts – it’s a natural disinfectant and anti-inflammatory, so is perfect for combatting bacteria and friction from masks. It’s quite strong, so use sparingly or mixed with a base like almond oil, and only use on targeted areas. It should tingle but not burn (a good rule of thumb for life). 

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