Esthetician's Guide to avoid acne caused by face masks ``Maskne``
How to fight back against skin irritation and breakouts caused by face masks
Is living with Maskne the new norm?
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep throughout the nation, the use of face masks to prevent the spread has become the new normal for most people. Given such, many people are realizing that one of the unintended consequences of regular face mask use is an increase in tiny little whiteheads, or acne, that comes up underneath the cloth, medical, or paper face mask.
Acne is one of the most common skin conditions that people face on a day-to-day basis, so adding yet another acne causing trigger to the list of things to be wary of can be frustrating to some.
As if 2020 hasn’t already thrown enough at us, now we have to deal with maskne. The actual medical term is acne mechanica, which is a physical form of acne where friction from the actual masks causes irritation on the skin and the retention of heat and moisture close to the skin can cause further irritation.
This irritation allows small breaks in the skin that can open the door for bacteria, dirt, and oil to enter the skin. The humid environment beneath the mask also allows the pores to get clogged up more easily.
Maskne can be identified as tiny little pimples and whiteheads that pop up after regularly wearing a face mask throughout the day in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Maskne is caused due to the breakdown of your skin’s barrier; its outermost layer that shields you from outside damage while keeping hydration locked in. A damaged skin barrier can lead to all kinds of skincare related issues including, irritation, breakouts, and acne.
What Causes Maskne?
As mentioned previousl, acne from regular face mask use is typically caused from friction. With regular use, the face mask will start to irritate the skin and clog the pores, leaving sebum and bacteria to live beneath the skin. Another way a mask can cause breakouts is if the mask isn’t regularly washed, which can cause the mask to build up dirt and bacteria.
How can I tell if it’s maskne or hormonal acne?
You’ll notice that maskne bumps are typically on the surface and not deep within the skin. Also, you’ll notice that the location of the bumps are typically in line with the areas of contact that the face mask is usually in contact with: the upper lip, the nose, the smile lines, and the chin areas, in particular.
Struggling with maskne? Below, a few steps to get rid of unwanted breakouts caused by face masks.
First, make sure your skin is thoroughly cleaned prior to putting on a mask
One of the first things you need to do to prevent maskne is to make sure the skin is properly cleaned. Cleanse the skin regularly at least twice a day. When you cleanse the skin, you want to run the water warm, not hot, and cleanse the skin gently and pat the skin dry. Do not rub the skin aggressively as the increase in friction can cause more irritation. Not sure which cleanser is right for your skin type? Reach out for a complimentary consultation!
Make sure your masks are clean
As mentioned earlier, bacteria can build up in masks if you are using the same masks over and over. This is especially true for cloth masks. Dirt and oil from your skin plus bacteria from your mouth and nose will end up on your cloth mask. Make the switch to daily disposable masks or wash your cloth masks regularly to help prevent face mask acne. Also, make sure that you are washing your masks with fragrance free detergent. Fragrance within fabric can be an irritant, so you definitely don’t want it on your face.
Try using a silk mask
If you are looking for the best possible mask fabric to prevent maskne, try using a silk mask. Silk is a material that creates very little friction on your skin, which will eliminate some of the irritation on the skin that causes breakouts. Silk is the most gentle type of face mask fabric available right now and a few brands sell washable silk masks.
Add a protective barrier such as moisturizer
Regular face mask use can strip away at your skin’s natural barrier, which is one of the main causes for face mask irritation. You can add extra moisturizer or a buffer like a skin care balm to the areas that get too much friction which can help protect this barrier. The moisturizer is going to act as a barrier protection between the skin and the mask, so it helps support the function of the skin. Not sure which moisturizer is right for your skin type? Reach out for a complimentary consultation!
Let your skin breath whenever possible
You don’t have to wear your mask 24/7. Whenever it is safe to do so, remove your mask to let your skin breath. An example is if you are riding in your car or alone at home, you don’t need to be wearing your mask, so you can take your mask off during these parts of the day.
Leave the makeup on the shelf
I’ve found that many people continue to wear makeup when wearing a face mask which can make the breakouts worse and clog the pores more. Take this time to let your skin breath and heal and look into investing in a good hydrating skincare routine. If you’re wearing a mask, you don’t necessarily need to wear makeup underneath it.
If you do decide to wear makeup, I would recommend cleansing the skin one time during the day to ensure the area does not get clogged and congested.
What to do if maskne symptoms persist?
If your symptoms of irritation persist despite following the above recommendations, then you should make an appointment with a licensed esthetician or dermatologist.