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    Summer Is Presenting New Face Mask Problems — Here's How To Solve Them

    Including how to run in a mask, deal with "maskne," prevent mask tan lines, and more ☀️.

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    It may have come to your attention from the face mask tan line you are now rocking on your nose that it is, in fact, getting hot out there — meaning a lot of us are scrambling to figure out how to best wear face masks in summer.


    The nerve of some seasons, y'all.

    First, a refresher — by now you are probably quite aware of the CDC's new guidelines recommending people wear nonmedical face coverings in public, but here's a quick recap.

    A cartoon of people maintaining social distance on a city street with masks on their faces

    These guidelines are in place primarily to protect people around you from droplets you might expel through breathing, talking, or coughing; even people without symptoms may still be at risk of spreading the virus. The masks don't have to be anything fancy — the primary functions are that they are breathable, cover your nose and mouth, and are tight enough that they don't leave loose space for droplets to escape. Ideally, face coverings will also be multi-layered — and even *better*, could include a pocket for a filter. But any kind of face covering is better than not having one. You can check out BuzzFeed's guide to the CDC's new face covering recommendations, which include answers to all your burning mask questions as well as tutorials for how to make your own!

    While many of us have found face masks that fit the bill, the summer sun presents new challenges (some grosser than others — I'm looking at you, maskne). So BuzzFeed asked some experts for advice on how to ~save face~ in the heat.

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    Here are some questions you may have as you venture out this summer, along with some handy tips and tricks:

    1. How do I run or exercise outdoors in a mask?


    The answer to this isn't the "one size fits all" kind, because a lot of it is going to depend on what kind of exercise you're doing, how long you're out for, and how close you're planning to be to other people — but if you're looking for solutions, there are more than a few to consider.

    "For high heat (outdoor setting), I suggest to wear a double-layer face mask made of bamboo fabric if you are planning to go out for walking or jogging, but have no plans to engage in conversation with other folks," Gerardo Chowell, professor of epidemiology with Georgia State University’s School of Public Health, tells BuzzFeed. "If you are planning to go out to the park and engage in conversation with others, I’d recommend a face mask made of nonwoven fabric which offers greater protection. However, these are less comfortable and more difficult to find."

    To some degree, though, runners should cut themselves some slack — and prioritize safety over performance, both for themselves and people around them.

    A close-up of a runner's sneakers
    Emma Lord/BuzzFeed

    "The first piece of advice is for the runner to have realistic performance expectations," Linsey Griffin, an assistant professor of wearable products in the University of Minnesota College of Design and a co-inventor of the MNmask, tells BuzzFeed. "Wearing a mask while running is going to have a slight negative impact on overall performance. That being said, the performance of the mask can make a huge difference on a runner being able to tolerate wearing it for the duration of their run. Finding (or making) a mask that has a moisture-wicking finish on the inner layer material, is breathable, and comfortable will make a big difference."

    Griffin emphasizes that it's not just about material, but also the fit — particularly for activities that involve movement.

    "Don’t forget to look at the overall shape and design of the mask. While it is easy to focus on material properties, the actual shape and design of the mask can greatly improve comfort and fit. Look for a contoured mask design that can fit closely to the face and avoid a bulky design."

    Moisture-wicking and bamboo face masks are available online now, if you're looking — here are a few places you can start.

    A blue tie-dye face mask
    Masks Made Here

    For a basic moisture-wicking face masks, I personally recommend Masks Made Here ($20), — I've taken mine on a few runs, and while I'm not getting any personal records out there, the wickaway fabric is much gentler on my skin and makes it a little easier to breathe. (The toggles on the straps help, too — I may be moving, but this bb doesn't go anywhere.) There's even an exclusive BuzzFeed code right now for 20% off (enter BF20OFF at checkout).

    Athleta also has face masks (five for $30) made of polyester and spandex with a cotton liner that customers are praising for wicking away moisture, although those are on backorder until early July.

    For bamboo fabric, right now Etsy's a great bet. Here are some shops you can check out that ship within a few business days of your order:

    ☀️ Etsy shop Bamboo Is Better is selling bamboo fiber face masks with pockets for filters for $24.99 (available in seven colors and three sizes, including kids)

    ☀️ Etsy shop Seville Co. is selling black double-layered bamboo face masks for $10.99+

    ☀️Etsy shop Room 308 Boutique has double-layered bamboo and cotton blend face masks for $11.49 (available in five colors)

    You can check out other bamboo face masks on Etsy for more options.

    2. How do I prevent "maskne"?

    A BuzzFeed editor in a white cotton face mask
    Emma Lord/BuzzFeed

    If you're unfamiliar with ~maskne~, it is a uniquely 2020 word for when you get acne from wearing a face mask. Dr. Doris Day, an NYC-based board-certified dermatologist, clinical associate professor of dermatology at the New York University Langone Medical Center, and author, tells BuzzFeed that she's seen an uptick of this in patients of all ages, and that it'll "appear as redness, pimples, and even breakdown of skin where the mask constantly rubs against it."

    Fortunately, there *are* ways to prevent or mitigate your maskne woes this summer — starting with the fabric type you use for your mask.

    "White cotton is always the best," Dr. Day advises. "It helps to use fabrics free of dyes since some have allergic reactions to some dye colors, especially blue. There are also masks infused with copper which have healing properties. Be sure to wash or change the mask frequently and, while it's very important to wear a mask when you need to, it's helpful to not wear it when you don't need to. The recommendations change relatively frequently but it helps to follow and update your usage as appropriate. Try to avoid wearing makeup on the face as much as possible. It's a great time to accentuate the eyes but leave the face au natural!"

    If you don't already have a white cotton mask, you have a lot of affordable options online.

    A white cotton mask
    Studio 3DX/Etsy

    ☀️ Zazzle is selling double-layered white cotton face masks (that you can customize, if you want!) for $15.95

    ☀️Etsy shop NYLA Supply has double-layered white cotton face masks for $6.99

    ☀️Etsy shop Studio 3DX has white cotton face masks with a pocket for a filter for $8.99

    We also assembled a list of places you can buy face masks online right now, a lot of which have white and cotton options to peruse!

    3. Okay, cool. But what do I do about the maskne I already have?

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    Dr. Day has a few tips for that as well, noting that you can always get in touch with your own dermatologist for a more concrete plan — many are still offering telemedicine appointments at this time.

    "As for the breakouts, retinol can be very helpful but can also be irritating if your skin has not adapted to it," says Dr. Day. "Using a cleanser with salicylic acid can be helpful and less drying since there is short contact time with the skin. It's also a great idea to see your board certified dermatologist for evaluation — in person or via telemedicine — to determine if it's a true acne breakout or if it's rosacea, perioral dermatitis or an irritant reaction from the mask. These can all look similar but are treated differently."

    4. How do I prevent face mask tan lines?

    Paramount Pictures

    The answer to this is the same answer you should always bear in mind when it comes to sun protection: SPF, SPF, SPF. But there are other considerations you should make as well, seeing as SPF doesn't always completely prevent skin from pigmenting in the summer.

    "It's very important to wear an SPF of 50 or higher, apply before putting on the mask and then reapply regularly when out. Regularly can mean every hour if you're out exercising or spending extended time outdoors for any reason," says Dr. Day. "Also wearing a hat to offer shade for the entire face will go a long way in preventing lines of demarcation (tan lines) from developing. You need a sun smart strategy — avoid midday sun when possible, stay in the shade when possible, wear a hat, sunglasses and SPF 50 or higher and reapply regularly."

    5. How do I prevent overheating in a mask?


    This summer, self-monitoring is going to be key — as is staying hydrated, staying in the shade as much as possible, and any other strategies you've had for keeping cool in previous summers. But for more immediate mask-related strategies, you have a few options.

    "Perhaps the wearer could bring a second mask that she/he can wear when overheating occurs," Chowell advises.

    And if you're getting too hot — well, it may be time to pop back inside and regroup. Outside will still be there once you've cooled off and taken care of yourself.

    "The best advice is to be aware of both your body and your surroundings. If you feel like you are over-exerting while wearing a mask in heat, take a break," says Griffin. "This summer might require more planning around the heat than usual, but it does not mean you need to avoid being outside."

    And if you haven't found your perfect mask yet, don't *sweat* it too much.

    Four masks laid out on a table
    Emma Lord/BuzzFeed

    "There are new masks coming on the market pretty much every day, one that fits and works well for one person may not be right for another," says Dr. Day. "There is a lot of trial and error in finding one that is the best fit for you. I have gone through so many and am still on the hunt for the right one for my face."

    Personally, the four masks are my go-tos, and I have pros and cons for every one of them. We're all just figuring it out as we go 😷.

    In the meantime, if you have other concerns about being outside, BuzzFeed also talked to experts about whether it's OK to go to a public park or beach right now.


    The TL;DR is that there are safe and unsafe ways to do it — the best thing you can do is be prepared, be respectful of other people, and always, always, always err on the side of caution.

    Just remember — masks are not a substitute for social distancing! You should still maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance between you and other people when possible, and continue washing your hands and avoiding touching your face. Stay safe!

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    You can find more options in BuzzFeed's roundup of places to buy non-medical face masks online, and check out BuzzFeed's guide to the CDC's new face covering recommendations for more deets.