Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears we’ll be wearing face masks in public for quite some time now. While these masks are vital for helping to halt the spread of the disease, they’re not necessarily doing any good for our skin—and we have the maskne to prove it.
“The skin of the face is not designed to be occluded for extended periods of time,” explains New York dermatologist Doris Day, MD. “Your breath is meant to be expelled into the air, not land back on your skin.” That breath, when trapped against the skin, leads to increased humidity and then, when the mask is removed, the skin gets overly dry as the water evaporates out of the skin and takes moisture from the skin along with it.
“This is called dyshidrosis, which is a condition we see from extremes of wet and dry [changes] on the skin,” explains Dr. Day. “This can lead to skin breakdown, which then increases the risk of the microbes from your breath penetrating and causing rashes and breakouts.”
Luckily, a face mask that will both help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and benefit the skin finally exists. Enter: Nufabrx Face Masks, which “offer incredible filtration that can be compared to a N95 mask,” says Danville, CA plastic surgeon Stephen Ronan, MD.
There are two versions of this face mask available. The first is the Theramask by Nufabrx Powered by CuTec Copper ($20). This reusable face mask can help prevent the growth of bacteria on the face while breathing into the mask thanks to its inclusion of copper, which is a powerful antimicrobial and antibacterial material.
“This means that microbes dont survive prolonged contact with the mask,” says Dr. Ronan. “While a [regular] cloth mask may collect moisture and allow [bacteria] growth.”
The second mask available from the brand, the Nufabrx Soliscia Face Mask ($30), is infused with both copper and a moisturizer. “[This] is the first of its kind—a washable, reusable face mask that’s infused with copper and shea butter,” says Dr. Day. “They use a patented technology that infuses the shea butter into each individual yarn fiber, which keeps it consistent throughout each use and even through 30 or more washings.”
Ultimately, the masks are designed to help reduce the spread of germs through the natural benefits of copper, while keeping the skin barrier protected through breathable fabric. “Because of the shea butter in the mask, it is softer and less likely to irritate the skin or cause the dreaded ‘maskne,’” explains Dr. Ronan.
As a bonus, the mask is designed to sit comfortably on the face and is made with softer earloops, so those who need to wear masks for long periods of time will find this mask to be their best bet. “Your breath does not heat up behind the masks, which I found to be true of most other masks I’ve tried,” says Dr. Day. “I myself use the Nufabrx mask, and as a surgeon, I would not even consider using a cloth mask [because] I believe they are ineffective and only offer a false sense of security,” adds Dr. Ronan.
The bottom line: Because we’ll all be wearing face masks every day for the unforeseeable future, it might as well be one that really works, feels comfortable, and doesn’t irritate our skin. Plus, if you’re prone to stress-related breakouts—which, many of us are likely experiencing more stress than usual lately due to the pandemic—it’s probably a good idea to invest in a mask that’ll help soothe your skin before a breakout even begins.
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