'Maskne' is a common side-effect of face coverings, along with other skin issues like redness and irritation. For healthy, clear skin, the solution isn’t to stop wearing a mask. Instead, try making some changes to your skincare and makeup routines, and the way you treat your mask itself.
Remember, the information in this article is general in nature. For tailored treatment, please consult a dermatologist or skincare professional.
'Maskne' is exactly what it sounds like: acne and breakouts caused by mask-wearing. Dermatologists would refer to this condition as ‘acne mechanica,’ which refers to irritation caused by heat, pressure and friction.
On a normal day, oil, sweat and dead skin cells build up on our skin. When we wear a mask, it rubs against our face and traps those impurities in our pores, along with makeup. Add heat and humidity to the mix and it’s the perfect environment for bacteria to flourish.
The result? Clogged pores and acne, even if you usually have clear skin. Depending on your skin type, you may experience blackheads, whiteheads or painful cystic spots.
Maskne can cause skin conditions like eczema, rosacea or miliaria (heat rash) to flare up, too. It can also dry out the lips, since they’re constantly touching the mask.
Please don’t ditch the mask. There are a few steps you can take for maskne prevention, and to treat any existing breakouts.
The first step is choosing a mask made from a soft material, such as cotton or silk. Unlike synthetic materials like plastic and polypropylene, these fabrics allow your skin to breathe and won’t cause friction when they rub against your skin. Just make sure your mask covers your mouth and nose, and sits snugly on your face.
Think of your masks like your pillowcases, and clean them after 1-2 uses, if possible. This will help to remove oils and dead skin cells that collect inside the mask, so you don’t transfer them back to your skin. To wash your mask, use warm water and a gentle detergent to reduce the chances of developing a skin reaction like contact dermatitis.
Top tip: If you’re wearing your mask off-and-on, fold it up so that the outside of the mask touches the table or handbag, and the inside remains clean.
Having a good skincare routine has always been important, but it is essential during this mask-wearing time. By following a simple routine, you’ll remove the dirt, oil and grime from your skin before it sinks into your pores, and manage the bacteria that causes maskne. You’ll also strengthen your skin’s protective barrier so it can combat bacteria on its own, which is why everyone who wears a mask can benefit from focusing on skincare - not just those dealing with breakouts.
We recommend doing this step-by-step maskne skincare routine in the mornings, and when you get home:
If you typically exfoliate once a week, try increasing that to twice weekly. Avoid harsh scrubs as they may irritate your skin, especially if it’s already sensitive.
Instead, exfoliate with the Phytofuse Renew Caviar Lime Exfoliator, which contains bamboo stem and pumice to purify the pores and smooth skin texture, and natural fruit acid AHAs to dissolve dead skin cells. The formula also speeds up skin cell regeneration, which is really important when you’re wearing a mask every day.
As you’ve probably gathered, masks can stress out the skin. One of the best ways to support your skin during this time is by avoiding makeup. It may block your pores, particularly if the weather’s hot and humid and you’re sweating under your mask.
If you can’t say no to makeup, try to keep it minimal. Swap out heavy foundation for a lighter weight BB Cream. Even better, just use a Concealer to spot conceal the areas covered by your mask, such as your cheeks and chin.
It’s a good idea to skip lipstick, as well as bronzer, blush and highlighter on your cheeks, too. But that doesn’t mean you have to put your makeup bag away entirely - you can still apply some around the eye area.
In 2020, we’ve all had to get used to many things - and wearing masks is one of them. Whether you’re dealing with pesky breakouts or not, it’s important to keep the skin underneath your mask happy and healthy.
The easiest way to do this is by cleaning your skin and your mask regularly, and using masking products that contain the best ingredients for acne-prone skin.
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