By Meredith Pratt | Staff Writer
Unmasked Skincare is Tulsa senior Grace Heinecke’s answer to ‘maskne‘ — the breakouts that are caused by wearing a mask.
Heinecke said she noticed when she returned to school in August that almost every conversation involved some comments about the irritation that comes from wearing a mask.
“I think like everyone else, I am really sick and tired of the masks. So, originally it started with me wanting to solve my own problem, but I soon realized this was obviously not just me,” Heinecke said. “I thought if I could benefit from this, someone else could too.”
Dr. Seemal Desai, spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatologists and assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, explained in a recent CNN article why masks can be irritating to the skin.
“We think that wearing these masks, combined with stress from the pandemic, is causing an increased moisture-rich environment for bacteria and organisms to proliferate,” Desai said.
Heinecke created a mask disinfecting spray and a skin toner spray to help mitigate this issue. The products are sold for $7 each, or two for $12.
“The most popular [product] is the mask spray that you spray directly onto your mask, and that has rubbing alcohol in it to kill the germs,” Heinecke said. “But nobody likes the smell of hand sanitizer right up on their face, so I thought I would create something with essential oils that have therapeutic benefits.”
The mask spray was designed as a supplement to refresh masks in between uses and is not intended to be a replacement to washing them. It also does not claim to kill the coronavirus. Some of the essential oils Heinecke said she includes in her product are Roman Chamomile, cedarwood, lavender and peppermint.
“For the second product, I created a spray for your face that cleans your skin and tones it so that not only are you cleaning your mask in between each long-term wear but also your skin on the surface,” Heinecke said.
Heinecke said she has always loved the scent of different perfumes and that customizing the scents for her products has allowed her to “dabble with one of [her] passions.”
“Figuring out new scents that can be seasonal or based on the person and what they want has just been really fun,” Heinecke said.
Along with the two sprays, Heinecke launched an Instagram account that highlights some of her favorite skincare products and features videos of other students’ skincare routines.
“I have been posting super short clips of their routines and calling it ‘Baylor Vogue’ because Vogue typically does celebrity routines, but these are college-friendly routines where you could go get most of the stuff at the drugstore or on your computer without a ton of effort,” Heinecke said. “It’s super intriguing for me to learn from these routines, and they’re also generating attention aside from the products they sell.”
Heinecke said creating a skincare community online has been her favorite part of building her brand.
“I would say it makes my brand more trustworthy because it’s not just me promoting my products, it’s me promoting the best skincare for my customers,” Heinecke said. “I think it’s kind of created a blog environment that’s more inclusive and engaging than just trying to sell to a customer.”
Dallas senior Cassidy Camp said she has learned about several new products from Heinecke’s Instagram.
“Skincare is so important for college kids to learn about because our skin only goes downhill from here — sorry to be a downer,” Camp said. “Many people don’t have the time to research skincare products, so I love that the Unmasked Instagram teaches you in a matter of minutes.”
Camp said she has also enjoyed using the mask spray as a new part of her daily routine.
“The thought of my mask being disinfected before I put it on is a great feeling, especially if I forget to wash my masks that week. I just spray a couple pumps on my mask before class and I’m good to go,” Camp said. “It smells so good.”
Heinecke said that while she has enjoyed focusing on her two current sprays, she has considered making more products in the future.
“If the Baylor business school has taught me anything through my marketing classes, it’s how important it is to build your brand,” Heinecke said. “Who knows how long we’ll have to be wearing the masks, so I’ll need to think of other things that will be useful for people, whether they’re wearing masks or not.”