Maskne has been trending all over this year due to the increase in the use of individual protective gear thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, what actually is this “maskne” everyone is talking about and, most importantly, how can you make it go away?
Maskne is an umbrella name for a myriad of different skin issues aggravated by wearing protective masks. It could be one of several things:
- acne mechanica, an acne breakout caused by friction that damages the skin barrier – most common on dry and sensitive skins;
- acne flares, caused by the accumulation of sweat, sebum, and saliva in a humid occlusive environment;
- contact dermatitis due to the fabric cleansers you use to wash your mask;
- rosacea flares due to inflammation, irritation, and barrier damage.
All in all, the fact that you’re now having a piece of fabric rubbing against your skin and keeping all the dirt on your skin is causing maskne. However, there are ways to ensure that the flare-ups are controlled and that you are able to take care of your skin. It’s time to downsize your routine and make sure that you’re making the right choices regarding the mask you wear.
The Mask (& How You Take Care of It) Matters
Firstly, let’s all agree that, from a skin point of view, it’s better to wear disposable masks. They ensure that you keep it for just as long as you need it and then, they’re gone. On the other hand, this is far from being ecologically responsible. In this case, it’s up to you to choose your battles and decide where you stand on this. In the case you’re going down the reusable mask route, make sure the one you choose is made from cotton fabric. Additionally, check that it is closely knitted to ensure maximum protection (even though it may be trickier during hot days).
As for taking care of your reusable mask, make sure that you only use it for as long as needed and that you rotate it daily. This is non-negotiable and the main culprit on maskne. Moreover, try to avoid fabric softeners and choose fragrance-free detergents (try the baby ones or even using Saponaria nuts).
Cleanse, Exfoliate and Repair the Skin Barrier
The main focus here should be keeping your skin as clean as it can be. Try to make a point of washing your skin and hydrating just before applying your mask and then again after removing it. Yes, this is where you stop cleansing your skin before going to bed and start doing it as soon as you get home. Try to choose simple and soothing cleansers, and follow with a gentle exfoliation and lightweight hydrators.
Also, here are some simple rules that you can try to follow:
- As previously explained, keep the skin as clean as you can.
- Don’t over-exfoliate or use strong retinols if you’re going to wear a mask constantly.
- Protect your skin with hyaluronic acid and ceramides.
- Treat the flares accordingly: soothe if it’s an irritation, target sebum accumulation if that’s the cause.
- Don’t pick at your pimples.
- Seriously, don’t pop those pimples.
- IF you pick the pimples, soothe the area, make sure you protect your skin barrier and don’t use any actives in the following days.
Lastly, we just want to let you know that handling skin can sometimes be tricky. In fact, this is not the time to have perfect skin, just to keep hanging in there as best as you can. Stay safe!