Woman doing an at-home beauty treatment
Woman doing an at-home beauty treatment
  • The constant wearing of masks during the coronavirus pandemic is causing skin breakouts - and it is fuelling the sales of skincare products.
  • Dubbed “maskne/mascne”, the skin irritations imply acne caused by masks trapping dirt and oil in the pores.
  • Besides skincare, DIY beauty routines also became more prevalent during lockdown, with demand growing for hair, body and spa-type treatments one could do at home.
  • However, with fewer social and business occasions to attend, the sales of beauty products and make-up has taken a knock.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za

The wearing of masks for extended periods at a time is causing a range of skin irritations.

There’s even a term for it – maskne/mascne – and it is helping to drive up the sales of skin care products as the globe continues its fight against the novel coronavirus.

According to Cape Town-based paediatric allergist, professor Claudia Gray, prolonged mask-wearing can cause skin problems both for people with pre-existing skin conditions and those with previously trouble-free skin.

“This is because masks impose heat, friction and occlusion [blockages] on the skin (combined with) the effects of a moist environment from breathing, talking and sweating. Rashes, acne and itching can result, especially on the nasal bridge, chin or cheeks.  The term “maskne” implies acne caused by the mask trapping dirt and oil in the pores,” says Gray.

She adds that she’s seen more patients with mask-induced dermatitis who have required recommended skincare products or even prescription medication.

“Good skincare has become vital during Covid times with prolonged wearing of masks,” she says.

To prevent skin damage, the quality and fit should be considered and ideally, the inner cloth should be cotton and not a synthetic material.

“As far as skin care goes, keeping the skin clean and well moisturised is important. Before and after wearing the mask, it is recommended to cleanse the face with a mild cleanser to remove dirt and bacteria,” says Gray.

Gray recommends applying a gentle, fragrance-free non-comedogenic (non-clogging) moisturiser, as it would help keep the skin barrier intact, preventing mask-irritation. Such bland, soothing fragrance-free moisturizers are widely available over the counter, she adds.

Gray also advises against using a moisturiser that is too oily or sticky as it will interfere with the mask's fit and says wearing make-up under a mask should be avoided if possible.

“If irritation or skin breakage does occur, products containing zinc oxide and products containing petrolatum will help soothe the areas,” says Gray. “For more moderate to severe exacerbations, prescription medicines may be needed, such as topical retinoids for acne, and topical steroids for eczema and topical antibiotics for rosacea.”

Covid's impact on the beauty industry

According Rubab Bangash-Shaikh Abdoolla, a senior analyst for market research provider Euromonitor International, the fear of skin breakouts has led to a big demand for skincare products that promise to solve skin woes.

“Consumers are paying more attention to their skin,” says Abdoolla.

Besides skincare, there has also been a spike in DIY personal care which became even more famed during the hard lockdown months when the government imposed regulations that saw hairdressers, barbers, nail salons and massage parlours halting operations as people hunkered down at home.

Abdoolla says even though regulations are now a lot more relaxed, South Africans remain cautious. “Given the high contact nature of salon businesses, consumers are wary of putting themselves at risk and are therefore opting for DIY options. Limited budget is also forcing consumers to opt for more DIY and at home treatments,” she adds.

Premium skincare, driven by brad loyalty and brand loyal consumers who believe in the efficacy of the products, will be the least hard hit.

“However, we are expected to see dwindling brand loyalty as consumers try to cut down on costs and maximise their disposable income. Consumers are downtrading to cheaper options and in the case where they do buy premium brands, they will look for the cheapest option which may be in the form of a smaller pack size or gift sets have to offer more value for money,” she said.  

The sales of beauty products and make-up, however, has taken a knock, as South Africans attend fewer social and business occasions.

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