Make up and Covid-19
Cyril Messaraa is a principal scientist specialised in the evaluation of cosmetics products, skin physiology and clinical instrumentation for Oriflame. He has authored over a dozen of articles in peer-reviewed journals and magazines for skin research and the cosmetic industry.
Principal Research Project Lead
Scientist, Scientific Communication
Michelle Mangan is an expert in claims substantiation and scientific communication for colour cosmetic technologies. Michelle researches and translates the science behind colour cosmetic products to create innovative product stories and claims for next generation NPD launches. Michelle is particularly passionate about social media and is inspired by viral trends and sharable content.
Cotton, surgical, patterned or polyester – face masks have changed the game for both accessories and beauty. Their use in recent times has shifted from conservative to critical, as they aid in obstructing particles to mitigate community transmission of Covid-19. Because a person’s infectiousness peaks shortly following infection, often with very little or lack of symptoms, wearing a mask in public has been shown to reduce the virus’s effective reproductive number, Re, in conjunction with additional public health measures. As opposed to R0, this parameter captures transmission once a virus becomes more common in the community and public health measures have been enforced (1).
Without a Trace...
The use of face masks has increased pressure on colour cosmetic performance. While long wear claims used to be of paramount importance, transfer proof claims have quickly become the new must-have. The latter refers to the ability of a formula to completely resist transfer from one surface to another – such as transfer of a face or lip product from the skin onto a mask.
This warrants amendments of existing test methods to substantiate transfer-proof claims, which has been swiftly enforced by many clinical research organisations. In general, Mask Resistant Testing for Facial Cosmetics relies on visual assessment by trained clinicians or image analysis, to either quantify the amount of product transferred onto the mask or inversely, determine how much product remains on the skin.
Below the Surface...
Whilst wearing a face mask is a clear deterrent for a make-up routine, there is an emerging body of evidence about the physiological impact of face masks on the skin. A recent investigation demonstrated that skin temperature, redness, sebum and hydration, likely from occlusion, increase as early as 1 hour after mask wearing in the cheek area and above. On the other hand, the perioral area is shown to become drier after both 1 and 6 hours of wear, possibly due to breathing (2). Another study also reported a detrimental impact of face masks on the skin barrier and a shift towards a higher skin pH, which is undesirable for skin health (3). More concerning are adverse reactions being reported with regards to acne, rashes and itch, to a higher extent for surgical masks versus cloth masks and for wearing longer than a 4-hour period (4). Respiratory masks (e.g. N95) have also been shown to induce a greater stress in terms of humidity, heat, breathing difficulty, and discomfort compared to surgical masks (3)(5).
Beyond the above scientific literature, ‘Maskne’ is a snappy term coined on social media which describes the incidence of acne arising from increased mask wearing. This stems from local changes in the skin (e.g. moisture, pH) that can affect the skin’s microbiome equilibrium. The mask area around the mouth, which characterises the ‘Maskne’, has been suggested to be referred as the ‘O-Zone’, an appellation echoing the T-zone (6).
A New Beauty Routine...
From setting sprays to mattifying powders, there are plenty of product options available to help support make-up transfer resistance. But just how far will face masks change the beauty routine and what are the possibilities that lie ahead?
Face masks can provide protection from the sun to some extent, yet to a highly varying degree depending of the density of the fabric, the thickness of the masks, fabric colour etc. Thus, there is a great deal of confusion on whether to maintain the use of a daily SPF shield or not. Education is key to remind consumers of the relevancy of SPF products per type of mask. Meanwhile, the accessories category has seen a flourishing offer of masks featuring UFP (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) claims.
Opportunities exist in all cosmetic categories to refocus claims on skin health maintenance by alleviating mask-related physiological effects such as pH shifts, skin barrier integrity and perioral dehydration. Skin discomforts and ‘Maskne’ also pose the question of the relevancy of existing beauty routines. These issues advocate for a higher diversity of offer within a range, from rich to lighter textures, SPF inclusion or not, depending on the context of use.
Back to colour considerations, cloth-masks have emerged as a fashionable way of personal expression thanks to a variety of fabric, patterns and even visible premium brand logos. Similar to clothes and mask pairing, there is room to colour match make-up with masks and recommend suitable combinations per skin tone to look the best version of yourself.
The use of face masks has had a significant impact on both product development and consumer lifestyle. Research on skin physiology in relation to mask wearing is ongoing, with certainly more insights to come. It is likely that product types and formats will continue to expand to target new skin needs, including skincare and make-up hybrids which can bring both beauty and care. As more knowledge and experience is gained in this field, it is likely that we will see expansion of product claims and communication, with more ‘firsts’ in a world that is only beginning.