The covid-19 pandemic has changed everything in our lives, at work, in our social circles and our habits. All over the planet, wearing a mask is now part of daily life and is the best way to avoid being infected. However, even if wearing a mask everyday is an absolute necessity, there is nothing pleasant about it – even less when you have sensitive skin. Even without a mask, sensitive skin tends to react too easily to everything: irritation, pollution, allergens, cosmetics, cold, heat, wind… Quickly tingling, discomfort, pulling, itching or burning appear. Sometimes redness. Wearing a mask for long periods of time can aggravate the situation. "A face mask makes my face red… My face mask burns my skin… I can’t stand the irritation caused by my surgical mask." Many people with sensitive skin complain about the side effects of surgical or fabric masks.

  • Dr Michèle Sayag, allergologist
    Dr Michèle Sayag, Allergist - Bioderma.

    Sensitive skin suffers more than other skin types from wearing a mask, with all the usual signs of irritation: tingling, itching, pulling, general discomfort and even redness.


    Dr Michèle Sayag, Allergist - Bioderma.

Sensitive skin will be irritated by masks, with two types of consequences.

  1. Irritation caused by rubbing: Elastics behind the ears, rubbing on the nose and cheeks… The skin barrier is agressed, skin becomes drier and more sensitive.
  2. Increased pollution on the skin: Inside the mask, it’s warm and moist due to perspiration and the CO2 that we exhale. This pollution is added to that of the general environment, which sensitive skin already has trouble tolerating.

Wearing a mask makes cleansing your face even more important. But not in any old way…



Weakened by irritations tied to wearing a face mask, sensitive skin should be cleansed with gentle formulas. Avoid rubbing at all costs, which can inflame the skin barrier even more. But a cleanser must also remove all traces of pollution and impurities that accumulate on the skin’s surface. The real challenge is finding perfect balance between respect for the skin barrier and cleansing efficacy.

It’s out of the question to cleanse too much or be insistent with make-up removal. Mornings and evenings are sufficient, otherwise it will simply aggravate the skin more. Hygiene should be methodical, with no rubbing and without using products that strip or are too irritating.

Dr Michèle Sayag, Allergist

Micellar water, the ideal cleanser for sensitive skin

Micellar water that needs no rinsing is more than ever sensitive skin’s greatest ally – even more so with masks, explains Professor Brigitte Dreno, Dermatologist at the Head of Department of Dermatology CHU Nantes (France).

"Compared to soap or a cleansing milk, micellar water provides a balance between water and oil with phospholipids.The pollutant particles stick to these micelles and are then carried by the water and transferred to the cotton pad.

  1. Micellar water removes all make-up from skin.
  2. It eliminates sebum that has been altered by the carbon dioxide that we exhale under the mask.
  3. It does away with the fine particles of pollution on our face that can cause pigmented spots*.
  4. While removing sebum and particles, it also allows good quality sebum to reform at the skin’s surface.
  5. And most of all, it protects the skin barrier thanks to its pH that is the same as the skin’s, thereby maintaining :
  • diversity in the skin’s microbiome, which prevents inflammation,
  • moisturisation of the superficial epidermis layer with water.

In other words, it eliminates all particles of pollution and removes all make-up on skin without needing to rinse, while respecting the microbiome and the barrier function. The more irritating side effects of wearing a face mask are therefore lessened by the moisturisation supplied by water (feeling of freshness) and the oil that strengthens the barrier function."


*Airborne particle exposure and extrinsic skin aging. Vierkötter A, Schikowski T, Ranft U, Sugiri D, Matsui M, Krämer U, Krutmann J. J Invest Dermatol. 2010 Dec;130(12):2719-26.

Micellar water makes it possible to better limit the irritating effects of wearing a face mask.

Brigitte Dreno, Dermatologist, Head of Department of Dermatology CHU Nantes (France)

Your Skin - Sensibio H20 Ambassador- Tina

A star product for sensitive skin, the world’s first micellar water remains a reference. Bioderma's Sensibio H2O gently cleanses the face and eyes.

  • The high tolerance gentle formula is ensured by careful selection of ingredients inspired by the skin’s natural biology. It respects the skin’s barrier function and balance.
  • No need to rinse. And no risk of developing a reaction to tap water, which can be irritating for sensitive skin.
  • Effective, it eliminates make-up, impurities and pollution particles.

  • Sensibio H2O soothes sensitive skin on the first application for 97% of users1

1Evaluation of organoleptic properties, efficacy and tolerance of Sensibio H2O. usage test, subjective evaluation on 30 volonteers with sensitive skin. CIREC, France, 2013 (Lb13041)
  • Sensibio H2O eliminates 99.8% of pollen2 and 98% of fine particles3

2Evaluation of Sensibio H2O cleansing efficacy toward pollen particles, test on 20 volunteers, France, CIREC, July 2019 (Rd19016)
3Evaluation of Sensibio anti-pollution efficacy, test on 12 volunteers, CERCO, France 2017 (STb17041)
  • Sensibio H2O respects 95% of the skin microbiome’s diversity4

4Clinical study on 20 volunteers, all skin types, March 2020.

Six tips to tolerate your face mask better

What should you do if your face mask makes your skin burn? If you have dry skin behind your ears after wearing a mask? Can a mask cause an allergic reaction? How do you reduce redness caused by wearing a mask?
Here are a few ideas to make wearing a mask easier for those with sensitive skin.


1. Vary the types of mask that you use to restrict localised irritations: a traditional surgical masks, a fabric mask with elastics behind your ears, masks that you tie at the back of your head… Make sure your mask isn’t too tight so that friction points are kept to a minimum. Choose masks without many colours, which reduces potential allergens.


2. Don’t wear a mask that has become moist. Take it off after a conversation or perspiring.


3. Don’t forget to change and wash your mask regularly, in keeping with official recommendations, and even more often if you feel the need, to avoid having your skin in contact over a long period of time with particles pollution. Use a hypoallergenic detergent and wash at 60°C.


4. Wait at least fifteen minutes after applying your moisturising cream in the morning to put your mask on.


5. Try not wearing make-up under your mask.


6. Take your mask off when the risk of infection is low or non-existant, for example when you are at home and in your car.