Wearing face masks and visors all day? Try these | Sali Hughes

My charity Beauty Banks has spent much of this past year redistributing skincare products to frontline NHS workers, and everyone we’ve talked to has told us that PPE is painful. The heavy kit, which high-dependency unit, cardiac and Covid team workers (nurses, porters, doctors, cleaners and more) must keep tightly on for hours at a time, really, really hurts. At best, those huge visors chafe, leaving skin red, sore and itchy. At worst – and frequently – they cause pressure sores on the nose, jaw and temples that can break, bleed and weep. One Covid team leader said he winces every time he reaches for his face gear after a loo break.

If you or your loved ones work in PPE, one possible answer – if not the magic bullet – lies in protecting the compromised skin barrier and keeping it clean and balanced. Ceramides – the fatty glues holding skin together – help protect it from environmental stresses, which is why I’d suggest moisturising twice daily with the very gentle Facial Moisturising Lotion (£13, 52ml), from CeraVe, an entire brand centred on them. Soothing niacinamide, too, is ideal, since it helps to strengthen the barrier and repair damage. Try layering Superdrug’s Me+ Niacinamide & Zinc Booster (£5.99, 30ml) under the moisturiser, immediately after cleansing.

While hot cloth cleansing is ordinarily best practice, if you work in PPE or your skin is sensitised, I’d advise you to step away from the flannel. The less friction, the better, which is why a rinsable formula is a good solution. CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser (£9.50, 236ml) washes away without aggravation, as does Avène’s airy, whipped Face Essentials Cleansing Foam (£13.50, 150ml), which needs the lightest of touches to work. My other favourite is Paula’s Choice Defense Cleanser (£20, 198ml), which is especially good if your underlying skin issue is dryness.

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A refreshing mid-shift spritz helps, but one that won’t upset your skin’s pH is vital. What The Light Salon Boost Cleanse Recovery Spray (£18, 100ml) lacks in sex appeal (the smell reminded me of municipal swimming baths), it delivers in performance. It’s a gentle but enlivening, pH balancing and skin-sanitising fix that can be applied whenever you’re able to take a moment. If you are a user of skincare actives, such as retinol, take your foot fully off the gas for now. Your skin needs calm while life is anything but.


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