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Maskne (AKA Mask Acne): Tips and Prevention



Is this our new norm, face masks and social distancing!? Thanks to COVID-19, face masks are becoming a staple in our everyday lives. They are also becoming somewhat of a fashion statement, so much so that well-known brands are coming out with their own lines of face masks (Old Navy, Anthropologie, and Kim Kardashian’s brand Skims).

Face masks are meant for our safety and protection, but a down side is that with face masks comes Maskne (aka mask acne). The mask traps sweat, oil, and bacteria on the skin, leading to acne. As for those who wear mask for long periods of times, such as our heroic healthcare workers, the friction from the mask causes skin irritation leading to micro-tears in the skin. This allows easy access for bacteria and dirt to get inside the pores leading to inflammation and breakouts.

Face masks have become an integral part of our lives and we won’t be saying good bye to them anytime soon. But we can definitely say goodbye to maskne. Below are tips on how to prevent and combat maskne.

The best way to prevent maskne is to keep your face clean. To ensure a clean face dermatologist recommend washing the face with a cleanser which contains salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is effective in combating acne because it dissolves excess oil, dirt and dead skin cells which clog pores and lead to breakouts.

After cleansing, make sure to apply an oil-free moisturizer. Moisturizers help to prevent the skin from drying out and minimize the skin’s production of oil to compensate for the dryness. Also try to use moisturizers with protective, barrier strengthening ingredients such as ceramides. These ingredients will help create a barrier between your skin and the mask which will help minimize the irritation from the mask and prevent micro-tears from forming.

This next one is a difficult one for most but avoid wearing makeup with your mask and here is why. Many lip balms, glosses, and lipsticks contain oils and other comedogenic (pore clogging) ingredients. When you wear these with a face mask, the lipstick/gloss rubs off onto the mask and then gets smeared back onto the skin. The comedogenic ingredients they contain clog the pores and lead to breakouts. In addition, face makeup and foundation tend to get trapped against the skin in a moist, humid closed environment created by the mask. This will also clog the pores and allow for bacteria to grow. Makeup can also transfer onto and remain on the mask. The next time you put the mask on you reintroduce the bacteria to your skin and leading to breakouts.

In addition to keeping you face clean, make sure that the mask you use is clean as well. Try to wash your face mask regularly if you are using a reusable mask. Preferably use masks that are made out of breathable fabric, such as cotton. Using breathable fabrics helps decrease the humidity which bacteria normally thrive in. It is also softer and gentler on the skin leading to less irritation.

With everyone still in lockdown and taking necessary precautions I don’t see us saying good bye to face masks anytime soon. But we can definitely say goodbye to maskne by following these simple but effective tips.

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