Written by: Keely Closa
As a frontline worker and healthcare professional, you deserve all the credit and appreciation that the world can give. From day one of the novel coronavirus outbreak until now, you’ve been putting in a lot of work, looking after thousands to millions of people in hospitals and quarantine facilities. You’re making huge sacrifices in ways that can put you at risk of the disease itself, as well as reduce your quality of life.
And since the virus has a high transmission rate, wearing not only of masks but also of personal protective equipment (PPE) has now become part of your routine. The PPE serves as your first line of defense against the virus and prevents you from passing it to others.
But before you think that your call of duty as a healthcare provider means you can forget about self-care, remember that paying attention to your well-being is important, too. As they say, you can’t give what you have. You need to give yourself some room to rest, recreate, and recharge at every chance you get, or you will feel overwhelmed with what’s going on around you.
It’s perfectly fine to dwell on thoughts that give you a sense of joy and relief, whether it’s about your family, furry friend, or favorite series. And there’s certainly nothing wrong in wanting to stay looking fresh and beautiful even if you’re wearing a face mask and PPE most of the time these days because the truth is that these kinds of protective covering can also damage your skin.
Think of it this way: When you have your N95 mask on, it tends to make your skin feel suffocated because it is blocking the oxygen that the skin needs to be healthy. Also, long periods of wearing a mask give constant pressure to your skin, which, in turn, can cause various kinds of irritation and infection, mainly because sweat can build up under the mask.
So before these skin concerns become severe, you may want to know a thing or two about the proper care for your skin. Here are some skincare facts and tips to guide your beauty and self-care regimen:
- Add some layer of protection before wearing a mask
To prevent your skin from breaking down due to the pressure of masks, you can create a protective layer in key points or areas where the masks tend to apply the most pressure on. These may include the bridge of your nose, your cheekbones, and behind your ears.
You can choose what type of skin breakdown solution to use, but some of the most common examples are skin patches, liquid film, or even soft gauze. Just make sure that they don’t get in the way of sealing the mask around your face.
Bonus tip: Have more than one mask, so you can switch them in between use, such as when you need to wash one of them. Avoid using too much detergent to prevent molecules from getting trapped within the fibers of the mask, which can lead to irritation.
- Avoid wearing makeup…
The pandemic has forced us to give up a lot of things for reasons of health and safety, and unfortunately, makeup is one of them. The reason for this is that wearing makeup under a mask can make breakouts and irritation worse, especially if it gets too heavy that makes it difficult for your skin to breathe.
Keep your skin feeling as comfortable as possible with proper hydration instead. But if you really could use some makeup, a tinted moisturizer or facial serum would give your skin healthy levels of moisture while adding glow or radiance to your face.
- …But wear sunscreen
If there’s one single thing that you should never remove from your daily skincare routine, though, it’s none other than sunscreen. That’s right—putting on sunscreen every day is good for your skin. Sunscreen can protect your skin from harmful UV rays, lower your risk for skin cancer, prevent premature aging, and maintain an even tone for your skin.
Use sunscreen following these tips:
- Sunscreen with at least 15 SPF is ideal for everyday use, but choose SPF 30 or higher if you’ll be on extended outdoor activities. Apply about an ounce (about a shot glass full) for full-body coverage at least 30 minutes before heading out. If possible, reapply every two hours.
- Even if you’re inside a room or building, you still need to wear sunscreen to protect your skin from UVA light. This kind of light can penetrate through glass windows and cause tanning, as well as premature aging.
- Choose broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.
- Stick to the basics
Nothing beats a simple skincare routine, which mainly involves washing your face with gentle cleansers in twice a day—once in the morning and once at night.
It’s important to avoid irritating your skin with strong ingredients while wearing facial masks, so best to look for cleansers with aloe as it works great in calming your skin. Then, follow up cleansing with sunscreen during the day or moisturizer at night. Remember to consider your skin type when choosing your skincare products, too.
You Got to Care for Yourself, Too
Even as you work tirelessly during this pandemic, you must take time to indulge in self-care activities, too, whether it’s a long, warm shower at the end of the day, meditation, or beauty and skincare routine. These moments help you slow down and make you feel lighter, better, and happier despite the circumstances.