Make your post-lockdown health & beauty appointment easier with these 7 mask-wearing tips!
A glorious 10cm root regrowth + bushy brows combo was the coolest look of the year, thank you lockdown! But, as our favourite health & beauty havens have now reopened, we’re sure you’ve had a fair share of appointments already to get you feeling back to your best self. Before you make your way back to the salon once again, gracefully falling into the chair demanding the hottest cut and even hotter coffee, make sure you are not forgetting one teeny-tiny detail - your face mask.
Yes, face masks are going to stay with us for a while. Even with the vaccination being delivered to more and more people, we still need to reduce the possibility of local outbursts by maintaining social distancing (whenever possible) and other healthy practices. Your stylist, barber or PMU artists work in very close proximity to your face so it’s very important for both sides to wear a face covering during the appointment, with the service provider equipped with a Type II face mask for even more safety.
Let’s face it - most of us do not enjoy wearing a face covering. You probably can think back to your first salon treatment post-lockdown. It’s not the most comfortable thing in the world. It causes a sensation of shortness of breath, makes you feel claustrophobic, turns your face sweaty, hurts your ears and creates a fascinating case of maskne. But you know what else it does? It saves lives. And this is why we want to give you the 7 best tips on how to reduce all of these negative side effects and make wearing a mask a little more pleasant!
1. Check your state of health first
Sometimes the side effects of wearing a mask go beyond simple discomfort. Severe respiratory problems, dizziness, panic attacks - these may be indicators to visit an allergist, laryngologist, pulmonologist or psychiatrist. According to the guide on face coverings in the UK, you can be excluded from wearing one if putting it on, putting it off or simply having it on your face causes you severe distress. What’s more, you do not have to request a letter from a medical professional about your reason for not wearing a mask (although you certainly can do that if having such a piece of evidence would make you more comfortable). However, be honest when taking advantage of this option - start with consulting a doctor and go from there.
2. Choose a mask that is both safe and comfortable
If you have been wearing the same baggy piece of fabric with too tight ear loops since September 2020, you would be surprised how big of a difference it makes to have a well-fitting mask made of proper material. Firstly, you need to remember that a face covering must fit certain requirements to be effective - reusable cloth masks should be made with multiple layers (at least two) and form a good fit around the face. Scientists suggest that reusable masks are the most effective when they are made from a few different materials - mainly tightly-woven cotton, but with two additional layers of silk, flannel or chiffon. Now, including cotton as the base material is very important for another reason - it is much easier to breathe through. Don’t buy masks made solely or mostly of synthetic materials, such as polyester - they are extremely uncomfortable! If you struggle with skin irritation a lot, you may want to try silk-lined ones, as they are the most gentle for your skin.
Don’t be afraid to buy a few different masks and try which one fits your face best. You can even try to sew one yourself!
3. Help your poor earlobes
Although a well-fitting mask should burden your auricles much less, you can still suffer from loops putting pressure on your ears. If that’s the case, you can simply invest in small gadgets that help to relieve this pressure. The choice is wide - from strap extenders that you place behind your head, to special hats and headbands with buttons that you can attach the mask to. You can even DIY such a solution yourself with something as simple as a paperclip! Finally, if you are sewing a mask yourself or ordering a custom one, you can sew or ask for fabric straps that you tie behind your head instead of loops.
4. Fight maskne with good skin care (and mask maintenance!)
Wearing a piece of clothing on your face for longer periods of time can lead to unpleasant skin irritations that may take the form of either a breakout (the infamous “maskne”), a scaly rash or overly dry skin. Why do these things happen? Well, our natural oils (sebum) on the face are getting heated under the mask, blocking hair follicles and glands. If your skin is naturally oily or sensitive, it’s more than enough to spark a reaction. You can also be experiencing contact dermatitis caused by the mask touching your face.
If the situation is more severe - especially if you experience the aforementioned scaly rash that may be an indication of seborrheic dermatitis - it’s best to consult a dermatologist. For the less aggressive cases, fight maskne with an adequate skincare routine. Don’t go overboard with it - a gentle cleanser, toner and moisturiser will be your best friends. A mild moisturiser will additionally provide a barrier between the mask and your skin and prevent friction. Finally, ask a pharmacist for an over-the-counter solution that contains salicylic acid to help unclog pores.
There is also one more important thing to consider. You know that keeping your face well-maintained is the key to success… but do you remember about your mask as well? Even the best skincare products won’t be effective if you keep covering your face with a dirty piece of cloth! Remember to wash your mask (if it’s reusable) at a high temperature after each use and let it dry completely before putting it on again.
5. Catch your breath before the appointment
...quite literally. It is recommended to take breaks when wearing face masks if you are forced to have one put on for longer than an hour. If possible, take at least a 15-minute walk in a quiet area, such as a park, garden or woods the day you have your appointment, or at the very least spend a few minutes with your windows open or on your balcony. Take deep breaths and unwind. You’ll see that wearing a face covering will be much easier after such a breathing session!
6. Follow your service provider’s instructions (but know your rights)
Depending on the procedure you are provided with, you may be asked to remove your face mask for a part or the entirety of the appointment. The government predicted such situations - you are allowed to have a mask off when receiving a facial or beard trim. However, your stylist, technician or barber should have their face covering on at all times.
The general rule is that you should arrive for your appointment with the mask on and only put it off at the provider’s request. Some health & beauty professionals are less rigid about the rules and may allow you to put it off regardless of the nature of the service provided, but we advise against it. If they are refusing to wear the mask themselves, you can (and should) ask them to put it on. When asked to put the mask on yourself, don’t try to argue with your service provider that you “already had it”, “are 100% safe, I’m sure” or that they “are young and will handle it like the flu at worst”. Re-infections happen and even the vaccine does not fully prevent you from either being a carrier or catching the virus yourself. You do not know the health history of other people or with whom they live on a daily basis, and COVID-19 can be dangerous even for the young and relatively fit.
7. Wear it with pride!
Finally - although the necessity to wear a mask may be annoying, try to keep a positive attitude towards it. After all, thanks to this little piece of clothing you are much less likely to get infected or to pass the possible infection to other people. Masks can actually look really fashionable - you can buy one in a plethora of colours, patterns and styles. There are masks with catchy slogans, as well as ones referring to the works of pop culture. You can express your opinion by wearing a mask, enrich your outfit or let other people know that you absolutely love a particular show. You are doing the right thing by having your face covering on - follow our tips to reduce the unpleasant side effects and wear your mask with pride!