The new normal requires us to wear masks regularly and for longer periods of time in some cases. Have you noticed how your skin has been acting up ever since the pandemic and you simply dismissed it, thinking you were overreacting to random breakouts? Well... you are not alone.
While we’re covering up our mouths and noses to stop the spread of COVID-19, some of us are uncovering a new problem — maskne, or mask-related acne.
What to know about maskne and skin conditions
Generally, “maskne” is an umbrella term for several skin conditions that can be caused by wearing a face mask or covering. They can include:
- Acne: Acne appears when your pores become clogged with oil, dead skin cells and dirt. Resulting in pimples, whiteheads and blackheads
- Rosacea: If you have this condition, wearing a mask can cause flareups which result in pimples and redness
- Contact Dermatitis: This occurs when you are allergic or sensitive to the material of your mask and this can lead to a red rash along with irritation and redness.
- Folliculitis: This is an infection of your hair follicles which results in bumps that look like an acne breakout.
The science behind maskne
When you breathe or talk, your mask tends to trap in a lot of hot air. Besides being annoying, this air creates a warm, humid environment — and an ideal setting for yeast, bacteria and other flora, such as demodex (types of skin mites that naturally live on our skin), to grow.
How to Avoid maskne
1. Consider your mask
Only you can decide how you want to balance the weight of the mask material with the level of protection it will give you, but dermatologists suggest 100 percent cotton as a good compromise because it allows skin to breathe a bit. As the temperature rises and you sweat more, you’ll need to keep the mask clean.
Remember to treat your mask like underwear and wash it frequently. Changing your mask frequently can help reduce irritation, especially after sweating or exercising.
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. 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 conjunctions 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. Hydrate but keep it light
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.
Stick to water-based products like the supple prep 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.
4. Cool it down
If you are feeling that your skin is feeling more irritated than usual, putting on a calming cream at the end of the day might help with the redness. When you are letting your skin breathe fresh air, adding a 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 midnight blue calming cream at the end of your routine with ingredients like guaiazulene and centella asiatica.
5. Try breathing through your nose more often
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.
Although maskne can be frustrating, it’s important to keep wearing face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regular face-washing, moisturising, and wearing the right type of mask may help prevent skin problems.