Feel like your face mask is causing acne? You’re probably not imagining it. Friction, rubbing and sweat trapped underneath a mask can cause the skin to get irritated, leading to breakouts on the chin, mouth and nose areas. While you can’t ditch the mask, there are steps that you can take to treat and prevent ‘maskne’.
What Causes Maskne?
- Clogged pores: Acne usually develops when the pores are clogged by oil, dead skin cells, dirt or bacteria. Regular cleansing and exfoliating ensure that all the gunk and dead skin are removed rather than clogging the pores. However, wearing a face mask can interfere with that process. Instead of shedding the dead cells and an excess oil, they are now sitting on the skin and blocking the pores.
- Bacteria: Face masks also create the perfect humid environment for bacteria to grow in our skin, leading to a breakout.
- Stress: When we’re stressed, we’re more likely to breakout. With all the chaos going in the world, our skin is feeling the stress that we’re all under. However, physical stress on the skin’s barrier caused by face masks is another cause for maskne. The constant friction, heat and pressure from the mask puts stress on our skin barriers which can lead to breakouts.
Although wearing masks may be new to most of us, it has been common for years in many parts of Asia. Dealing with maskne isn’t a new phenomenon in places like South Korea and Japan, which is why K-Beauty skincare offers some of the best products for keeping it at bay. Check out online stores such as Glow Theory and Seoul of Tokyo for some really great products.
Treating Mask Acne
Strengthen your skin barrier
While you skin barrier protects you in many ways, the constant sealed pressure, friction, heat and sweat under your mask can all lead to stress on the skin barrier. Keeping the skin barrier strong can go a long way in preventing maskne. It’s what prevents bad bacteria from going into the skin and what keeps the skin resilient. Look for products that contain niacinamide, ceramides and fatty acids to strengthen your skin barrier.
Hydrate hydrate hydrate
Having sufficient moisture levels within the skin can also help with maskne. When you skin is dehydrated, it can lead to an inflammatory response. This can then trigger more oil production, less cell turnover and increased breakouts. Keeping your skin hydrated can help it to become less vulnerable to breakouts. So be sure to incorporate hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 into your routine.
Anti-inflammatory products are your best friend
Acne is tied to inflammation. Using products that have anti-inflammatory properties are great for acne. Salicylic acid is a well-known acne go-to product. However, you can also go beyond that and incorporate ingredients such as niacinamide and centella asiatica to help keep the skin calm and clear.
Use a gentle, acne-focused routine
Start using products that are formulated to tackle acne and blemishes. The key, though, is not to go from zero to a hundred at once. Slowly incorporate gentle, blemish-focused formulas but be sure not to dry out your skin or agitate it as it can lead to more vulnerable skin and irritations. Switch out physical exfoliants (such as scrubs) for gentle chemical exfoliants (low % AHAs, BHAs and PHAs) instead. Find yourself a moisturiser with a lightweight texture than can calm the skin and provide hydration. Try a gentler approach to dealing with acne rather than a more aggressive one.
Wash your mask
Lastly, your face isn’t the only thing you need to wash! It’s recommended to wash cloth masks after each (yes each) use. Aside from the virus, this will help remove oils, bacteria and dead skin cells that collect inside the mask. Use warm water and a gentle detergent that doesn’t irritate the skin. Look for detergents that are fragrance- and colour-free to prevent irritation and further breakouts.
Preventing Mask Acne
Since we’re probably going to be wearing masks for a while (as we should), managing maskne isn’t going to be a once-off issue. It will require developing new habits to prevent and treat it.
Here are some tips to preventing mask acne:
- Choosing the right mask: Find a mask that allows your skin to breathe while also protecting yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19. To be effective, your mask should sit snugly and comfortably on your face, covering both your mouth and nose. Find fabrics that are softer, like cotton or silk. They tend to be gentler and more breathable on the skin versus synthetic fabrics that can be relatively harsh. Be sure to slip a filter in your cloth mask to optimise its effectiveness!
- Pick the right products: What you put on your skin underneath your mask is also important when dealing with maskne. Skincare and makeup products that are non-comedogenic or oil-free can help reduce the risk of a breakout. It’s best to avoid wearing makeup under your mask entirely, if possible. Layering too many products can clog the pores and lead to acne.
- Moisturise: Keeping the skin moisturised and hydrated can help combat acne. Try finding one with ceramides and/or hyaluronic acid to help restore and strengthen your skin barrier. Plus, moisturizing helps reduce friction and chafing from your mask, which can reduce irritation.
- Wash your face when you get home: After a long day of wearing your mask, wash your face using a gentle cleanser to remove all the accumulated debris and oil. Clean skin is the key to clear skin!