I love to multitask. By multitask I don’t mean actively doing two things at once—that I absolutely cannot do. Sending an email while walking? Forget about it! Calculating the tip on a check while being spoken to? Will have to hear that entire thing again! When I multitask, I need one of the things to ask literally nothing of me, so I can give my full attention to the second, more pressing task. Which is why I’m a big proponent of masking during the day, if I can swing it. I love to slap a hair mask on before I go out (I’d even wear them to the office, sometimes) or a clear hydrating mask before a long-haul flight. It’s so much easier than carving out time to do it, and waiting, and waiting. Now I have no problem doing skin treatments during the day because no one’s around to watch me look funny as I type. But I started to wonder… What if I could treat my skin while I was out wearing PPE? I already had stuff on my face! Why not make it work overtime for my skin? Here’s what I found to get the job done:
So, let’s just address the big glowing elephant in the room first. This LED mask, with different settings to treat acne, fine lines, and discoloration, won’t work on the half of your face that’s covered with PPE. LED therapy needs light to hit the skin, so it’s not an effective tool in preventing maskne on the go. (Experts advise wearing face shields only as extra protection in tandem with protective masks that cover the nose and mouth.) It is, however, a great way to give your forehead and the delicate skin around the eyes extra care without having to think too much about it. When the mask is turned off, it looks almost identical to the stash of legitimate face shields I keep for emergencies (usually, I just use glasses to shield my eyes). The plastic extends down to my chin, and the upper portion is fitted with little nose pads to sit on my eyes comfortably.
Surely, you could keep the mask off and use it just to shield your eyes, but that’s not the name of the game here, so I clicked power until it lit up anti-breakout blue and went to Target. The mask is totally cordless, hands-free, and comfortable, which sets it apart from other LED devices I’ve tried in the past. Though I will admit it was…kind of hard to see with the LED light on. You won’t bump into walls, but you will give yourself a headache trying to send a text or figure out which key opens your apartment door. And in the produce aisle (I needed limes for a pickled cauliflower recipe I plan to execute later) I received lots of funny stares. The best use I can think of for this mask is if you need to take a flight—keep it off as you go through security, and click it on once you’re in your seat for an updated version of in-flight masking.
This mask, from Masque Bar, confused the shit out of me when I saw it online. A hydrogel mask to wear under PPE? But how? Here’s how: the outer layer is a dry, felt-y material to keep your masks clean, and the treatment layer that touches your face is squishy and sticky (not totally dry but not wet, like other sheet masks). I put it on when I knew I’d be out for a while—I walked 35 minutes to a haircut appointment and back—so I could get the full experience. While I am sort of bummed that it doesn’t cover the nose and under the eyes, which is where I get the most mask irritation, I was pleasantly surprised by how well it fit my face and stayed on. It was also the least obvious (obviously) of all the mask-friendly skincare tools I tried out. The side flaps of the sticker were visible under my surgical mask, but I imagine different masks may cover them completely, and anyway I didn’t feel like they looked super weird.
The gel definitely had a cooling sensation against my face that was a refreshing change from the humid hellscape I hadn’t even realized I’d gotten used to. Once I got home, I was eager to take my mask off and see how my skin felt. Peeling it off was an unpleasant experience akin to removing sticky nipple covers after a night of wearing a backless dress. But my skin felt good—not particularly plump or moisturized but also not irritated or sweaty or chafe-y. Overall, I’d say it’s less of a treatment and more of an irritation preventative measure. I’d save these for hot days where you’ll be out of the house a lot.
The final face shield is probably the most effective if you really want to up your skincare game while protecting your vulnerable mucous membranes. (Ew?) It’s a UV shield, a piece of plastic treated with a special reflective coating to block the sun’s harmful rays from reaching your skin. It’s a favorite anti-sun trik of Tiktok skincare sensation Vi Lai, who often posts videos in her metallic silver version. You can find lots of different UV shields available online, but my fun rainbow version that’s reminiscent of ski goggles is from Protocol (which will be available with their Complete Renewing Line). The top feels like a comfy, cushion-y headband, and the shield itself lifts and lowers on a hinge from the corners. It extends past my chin and fully wraps around the sides of my face.
The easiest path to smooth, glowing skin is with regular SPF usage—if you hate SPF and love crazy hats, you should purchase this yesterday. I didn’t have to deal with sunscreen smell, reapplication, or unwanted stickiness under my surgical mask, and my skin was completely protected. The catch is that this shield is for outdoor use ONLY. I felt like I was wearing those black tinted glasses from the eye doctor as I stumbled around in my apartment in this thing. It’s perfect for a socially distant picnic with your most narcissistic friend, who will appreciate being able to stare at their psychedelically hued reflection, and your most anxious friend, who will be soothed by the sensation. It’s just like Zoom!
Photos via ITG