Mask YES, Maskne NO! How to Avoid & Treat Acne Under the Face Mask
by Hailei KimonNov 01, 2020
Noticing how your skin has been acting up ever since the pandemic and simply dismissed it, thinking you were overreacting to random breakouts? You are not in it alone. After the spread of COVID-19, the number of appointments at dermatologist’s offices actually increased and the beauty industry is experiencing an unprecedented skincare boom.
What causes maskne?
Now, let’s not make a rash decision to discard your mask for the sake of your skin. We need to find a way to stay bacteria-free and keep our skin acne-free. Maskne, a combination of mask and acne, is a real hazard that’s going on inside your mask. Here is a great IG post on Maskne by @funskincare → #SKINTALK: Mskne, "Mask Acne" Cause and TipsAccording to the New York Times, masks can “worsen skin issues that already exist or cause new ones” and acne flares up regardless whether your profession requires you to be wearing masks all day or not. Masks trap moisture and the humidity inside your mask works like a magnet to dust and dirt, clogging your pores. The hot, humid environment also makes a perfect home for yeast, fungi, and bacteria. This may come across as terrible news to those with acne-prone skin but the worst is yet to come. Anna Lien-Lun Chien, M.D. at John Hopkins Medicine, subverts our common understanding of maskne and actually claims that maskne is not as simple as fungal- and bacterial-acne but can be an umbrella term that includes all the rash, atopic dermatitis, and allergic reaction you get from wearing masks. The places that are covered by masks, ironically, are exposed to all these skin troubles and the conditions can get worse if not treated in a timely manner.
Q. How can you AVOID maskne?
1) Hydrate effectively but keep it light
For most winters, which is normally a dry season, it is best for you to gear up with moisturizing cream with thick texture and add facial oil to your daily skincare regimen. This winter, we are going to do our skincare a little differently. You probably already felt that it is super moist under the mask and the surface of your skin becomes sticky with sweat and sebum. Hydrating should always be the most important part of skincare but keeping it light is key to keeping your skin maskne-free this winter.
Stick to water-based products like toner and instead of using multiple layers of different skincare products, apply the same water-based products repeatedly. Say bye to the 7-step K-beauty skincare regimen and say hello to 7 layers of just toner. If you still feel a bit burdensome to add multiple layers of facial toner, you can always replace it with a nice hydrating sheet mask. Wheteher it be in the morning or at night before you go to bed, keep the areas under your face mask clear and freshly hydrated!
2) Exfoliate your jawline with a gentle cleanser
You naturally focus on your T-zone when you exfoliate because that’s where your pimples appear the most. For maskne, you need to target your jawlines. Make sure you really get those places that are always covered by your mask. Your jawline just happens to be the only part of your face that’s never liberated and gets clean air when you wear masks. Gently exfoliate your jawline so that you make sure you prevent the dead skin cells from accumulating in your pores. By exfoliating, you are making sure your pores breathe while preventing your pimples from building up.
One great tip for 'gentle exfoliation' is cleansing with enzyme powder. Enzymes not only help to gently exfoliate skin but also reduce excess sebum and weakens the conjuctions between dead skin cells. So, try adding a cleanser with enzymes for your night time routine when you are free from wearing a face mask all day long.
3) A cooling gel or a calming cream might help
If you are feeling that your skin is feeling more irritated than usual, putting on a cooling gel or a calming cream at the end of the day might help with the redness. When you are letting your skin breathe fresh air, adding some cooling gel or calming cream could allow the temperature drop faster, allowing your skin to resume its balance. Using skincare products that contain tea tree oil can alleviate the mild irritation while soothing your skin.
You can literally drop the temperature of the areas that touched the face mask by using skin cooling tools or cooled jade rollers. However, if you are absent of cooling devices, you can simply try adding a calmig cream at the end of your routine with ingredients like guaiazulene and centella asiatica.
4) Try breathing through your nose to prevent humidity
This is actually very simple but effective. You are letting more moisture build up inside your mask when you breathe with your mouth. Try breathing through your nose to lessen the humidity and heat inside the mask. Giving yourself a 10-minute break every 4 hours could also help prevent maskne. But don’t feel overwhelmed and pressured to pop out for fresh air every 4 hours! Breathing through your nose is enough to do the trick.
5) Use a mask with antibacterial properties or a fabric with less skin irritation
Wear your mask right not only to protect yourself from COVID-19 but also from maskne! You could prevent or get rid of your maskne instantly if you switch to the right mask. Stay away from masks made out of synthetic fabric that could cause skin irritation. Using cotton masks is a moot point when you don’t wash it so wear the right mask with proper material and keep it sanitary. You could avoid the fuss overall by using a mask with antibacterial properties. One of the great ingredient to take notes is 'hemp'.
Q. How can you TREAT maskne?
Don’t worry if you are already suffering for maskne. With these 3 tips, you can say goodbye to maskne! The key to treating maskne is not overdoing it. So keep it light and simple.
1) If you are not a morning cleanse person, try it
You might want to put an extra care into your morning cleanse if you have maskne. Keeping your skin clean before you put on the mask could help treat existing maskne and reduce the chances of getting maskne in general. You want your skin clean but you also need to remember that dry skin stimulates more oil and sebum production.
In the morning, it would still be best to stay away from traditional foaming cleansers that might dry out your skin or strip off moisture excessively, but go for cleansing gel or a milder cleanser that could freshen your skin but not strip it dry.
2) Try a clay mask around the jawline in your night time routine
You need to figure out a way to help your skin figure out the new right water and oil balance after the pandemic. Due to high humidity inside the masks, you are experiencing excessive sebum secretion. Try controlling sebum production with a clay wash-off mask!
3) Keep the areas cool and hydrated
What I love to do is kill two birds with one stone is using toner or a hydrating mist throughout my day in order to moisturize and sanitize. As I already mentioned before, I switched to a simpler skincare regimen after the pandemic with just my toner and some cotton pads. I always carry around some cotton pads just in case. Either wipe your face occasionally with a cotton pad after wetting it with toner or spraying mist on your face. With every wipe, you will notice that you are clearing out the dust while providing the essential moisture that your skin needs.