Denver Skincare and Makeup Experts on How to Maintain Flawless Skin Under Masks

While Denver is lifting its mask mandate this week, there are still a variety of reasons to wear masks during this time. Whether you’re traveling, wearing masks in some areas and not others or continuing to mask up to avoid the spread of COVID-19, masks really aren’t going anywhere quite yet. 

While we continue to adjust to this new normal, it’s helpful to develop ways to maintain healthy skin and makeup routines in the presence of masks. Here at 303 Magazine, we sat down with several local experts to discuss ways to look and feel beautiful in our masks.

Abby Schirmacher, 303 Magazine, 303 Fashion, Makeup and Masks, AILLEA, Intelligent Elixirs, Leah Llanes, Estelle Lux Collection, Denver Beauty, Pandemic Skincare, Maskne, Makeup Trends

Photo by Adrienne Thomas

Rejuvenate Your Skincare Routine 

Many individuals are noticing breakouts that they may not have experienced before wearing masks. The term “maskne” emerged to describe this shared experience when our skin is affected by wearing a mask all day long. 

According to Kathryn Dickinson, owner of Denver clean beauty boutique AILLEA, those with either (or both) sensitive and reactive skin types are more prone to maskne.  

“The abrasion of the mask to the mantle of the skin can cause a reaction,” she said. “The combination of dirt and oil can create a flare.” 

For Cat Tatman and Mary Butler, co-founders of Denver-based clean and cruelty-free skincare brand Intelligent Elixirs, developing good mask-wearing habits is essential. A majority of mask-wearers may be prone to maskne, so, “it is important that a clean mask is used daily because the accumulation of bacteria and chafing that occurs throughout the day can lead to breakouts and inflammation,” said Butler. 

Additionally, staying mindful about a skincare regime when we take our masks off makes all the difference. 

“Cleanse the skin immediately after removing the mask with a gentle cleanser that won’t strip the skin. Exfoliate 2-3 times a week to keep pores clear of dead skin cells and debris,” said Butler. “Also, keep your skin hydrated by applying a lightweight moisturizer or treatment serum that keeps the skin protected and balanced.”

For Dickinson, being mindful about the products we are using contributes to overall self-care during the pandemic as well. 

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“My biggest recommendation would be to take some time for self-care. Relaxing on the couch once a week with an Orgaid Sheet Mask, or any other skincare-focused mask that you love, really helps to reset,” said Dickinson.

The use of specific products may also eliminate skin irritation from masks. 

“Look for a gentle cleanser and exfoliant, as well as products to keep the skin hydrated. Also, avoid harsh ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate and avoid synthetic fragrance and color,” said Tatman. 

Tatman and Butler recommend investing in cleansers to remove makeup, dirt and oil as well as serums to provide hydration and soothe the skin. Intelligent Elixirs offers these products at affordable prices, such as the Rose Foaming Cream Cleanser, the Vitamin B-5 Hydrating Serum and the Brightening Serum. Finding products to clear out pores and provide hydration helps diminish the potential for maskne to occur. Intelligent Elixirs also carries affordable scrubs and oils like the Citrus Facial Scrub and Pure Squalane.

To support product lines offered at AILLEA, “I love the Osmia Purely Gentle Mud Cleanser with the One Love Charcoal Bamboo Sponge to cleanse and gently exfoliate my face and then using retinol at night, like the Josh Rosebrook Active Infusion Oil, will really help maintain your skin,” said Dickinson. 

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Overall, there are a variety of different factors that may be causing maskne for individuals during this pandemic. Interestingly, even diet can cause breakouts. 

“I also think diet is incredibly important, eating an anti-inflammatory diet will help calm your skin, as well as your nerves,” said Dickinson.

There are a lot of ways to attempt to avoid breakouts while wearing a mask. Although when blemishes are inevitable, we often turn to makeup. However, makeup and masks can be just as tricky.

Make Makeup Your Friend 

For Leah Llanes, founder of Glam X Glow Beauty, professional makeup artist and esthetician, learning to adjust to a new makeup routine in the presence of masks has been crucial. From wearing a lighter consistency foundation to focusing on eye makeup, there are several alternatives to looking and feeling beautiful while wearing a mask. 

Rather than wearing foundation, Llanes has adapted. “I love using a tinted moisturizer honestly. If it’s something where you’re going to need to see that bottom part of your face and be taking it on and off,” she said. “If you can go without even wearing it … that’s a great way too.”

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Lucretia Estelle, the founder of Denver-born makeup line Estelle Lux Collection, suggests “keeping your lips hydrated with a good lip gloss or lip balm,” she said. That way when taking a mask on and off all day, dry lips won’t ruin a good makeup look. Additionally, it helps to have a good matte lipstick or clear gloss, like any of Estelle Lux Collection’s shades. 

Both Estelle and Llanes agree that if one is focusing on face makeup, setting powder or setting spray is necessary to avoid transferring on the mask. Some setting sprays that Llanes recommends include Charlotte Tillbury Airbrush Flawless, Urban Decay All Nighter, Smashbox Photo Finish setting spray and NYX Matte setting spray. Or, you can opt for powders like Dermablend, Make Up Forever, Laura Mercier or ELF.

Llanes’ tips with setting sprays are to wait 15 minutes after use before putting on a mask. As for setting powders, “setting concealer and foundation/tinted moisturizer with setting power adds an extra layer of longevity and a little goes a long way,” she said. 

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According to Llanes, “I definitely think that eyes should be the focus when you’re going to wear your mask because that’s what’s standing out,” she said. Eye makeup can be elaborate eyeshadow looks or even bushy brows. 

Some trending eye looks right now include “bold brows & extenuating eyes,” said Llanes. “Fun bright eyeshadows, fake eyelashes, double-winged eyeliner or rhinestone embellishments.”

Overall, Estelle’s biggest piece of advice is to “make sure skincare is a priority. Stick with transfer proof or matter foundation. Opt-in for neutral lip gloss or matte lipsticks,” she said. 

Whether you’re following Denver’s lead and taking your mask off or choosing to keep it on, there are many ways to avoid damage to skin and makeup while wearing a mask. While it’s hard to tell what the future holds, our skin doesn’t have to look any less flawless.

Updated on Feb. 4 to clarify product offerings at AILLEA.