Wait, is Maskne a Real Thing? What Do I Do About It?
I know, we really don’t need one more thing to worry about but... you’re noticing irritation when you take your mask off. Is this “maskne”? Like, acne caused by the same mask that’s been helping to protect us in this pandemic? Yep, maskne is real and it’s no fun but, good news! We’re here to break down what it is and how you can fight it.
Let’s get clear: What is maskne? Why do we get it?
Maskne is different from regular acne, and it should be treated differently, too. Essentially, maskne is skin irritation from wearing your mask (which you should absolutely be wearing!). Its more formal name is acne mechanica. When heat is trapped against your skin for a long period of time, by any material: a helmet, a hat or a mask, the heat and sweat blocks your pores. With continued friction, those pores become irritated and turn into acne mechanica. If you see bumps or pimples showing up around the places your mask rubs your face, it’s likely maskne.
Treat [your mask] like your bra or your panties – wash it every day
Things to consider!
Type of mask you’re using: If you’re prone to maskne, there are two easy ways to deal with it. First, wear the lightest mask possible, the heavier the mask, the harder it is for your skin to breathe. In the interest of sustainability and protection against COVID-19, experts suggest 100% cotton masks.
They’re better for the environment because they’re not one time use like very thin disposable masks, and they’re thick enough that they protect against the virus while also allowing your skin to breathe. Always remember with a cotton mask, WASH IT FREQUENTLY. Not only is it just better to have less dirt and bacteria on anything you’re wearing, but a clean mask will also ensure less maskne by not reapplying old sweat and oils to your face.
Last month, during our first Holistic Beauty Event, Board Certified Dermatologist and AAVRANI Panelist Dr. Rita Linkner summed it up simply for us: “Treat it like your bra or your panties – wash it every day."
Skincare products you’re currently using:
Second, let’s talk about your skincare routine. What are you currently putting on your face? Scaling your routine down to be more simple is important because, the more products you use, the more a mask is constantly redistributing those products on your face.
To keep it simple, wash your face before and after mask-wearing with a cleanser like this one. Use a hydrating toner or serum to reinstate your skin’s natural moisture barrier and then moisturize with a light-weight, fragrance-free moisturizer that will help soften your skin and create less friction throughout the day while wearing your mask.
A good moisturizer will also be ultra-hydrating, helping restore and maintain your skin’s natural moisture barrier overnight as well. A couple times a week, it may also help to use an exfoliating cleanser or face mask, to deep cleanse your pores. This mitigates that everyday buildup of dirt, oil and sweat, which gets amplified by wearing a mask regularly. If you take anything away from this post, take this: unless you’re deeply cleansing your pores on a regular basis, any products you use won’t be nearly as effective as they could be.
Scaling your routine down to be more simple is important... the more products you use, the more a mask is constantly redistributing those products on your face
In an already frustrating time, who wants to worry about another skincare issue? (Even if it does have a snazzy name like “maskne”). Our skin is affected by so much, especially at a time like this, when we’re likely to be more stressed than ever. We can’t stop wearing masks (just yet), but we can be more cognizant of how various changes and lifestyle disruptions (like wearing a mask) are affecting our bodies and our minds. Perhaps this is a time to step back and appreciate just how connected and interdependent our lifestyle choices truly are. After all, skincare products alone are just one part of the equation when it comes to the overall health and appearance of our skin.