Coronavirus has undoubtedly changed many aspects of our day-to-day lives, one of which is wearing a mask every day. For many, the mask isn’t just a health and safety choice; it’s a mandate. And while masks keep ourselves and others safe, they can wreak havoc on our skin, causing what has widely become recognized as “maskne.”
But don’t worry, we’re here to help you navigate the new norm of masks and the challenges that come with it.
What is maskne?
What? It has a name?! You’re not alone. A quick Instagram search will show you that many of us are learning this new term together. Maskne is a type of acne caused by wearing face masks due to an increase in friction, moisture and heat that results from wearing face masks for an extended time. (Not to mention, COVID-19-related stress can also lead to an increase in breakouts!)
However, maskne is not new in the acne world. The term’s precursor is acne mechanica, which refers to acne caused by mechanical friction against the skin. Athletes who wear a helmet or a chin strap, for example, may experience breakouts due to friction and extended wear that look just like maskne symptoms. But if you’ve never had to wear items like these in sports play, “accessory”-related acne may be brand new to you.
The summer heat and humidity you were already worried about increases significantly when you don your mask before heading out the door. Your pores become more susceptible to clogging due to the friction and compression of oil, dirt and debris on your skin. And voila, you have the perfect recipe for maskne whether you were breakout-prone before or not.
The good news is there are steps you can take to prevent and control your mask-related breakouts.
4 tips for keeping your maskne under control
Now that we’ve identified what maskne is, what are we going to do about it?
- Follow your skincare routine EVERY DAY
Now is not the time to skimp on your skincare routine. Each morning and night you should be cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing (plus applying SPF at the end of your AM routine). Keeping your skin clean and applying a moisturizer to shield your skin from environmental stressors are vital to keeping maskne at bay.
- Choose the right mask and wash it regularly
If you’re not a healthcare worker and you’re maintaining social distancing guidelines, you’re probably not wearing a medical-grade face mask (such as an N95), but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be choosing your mask wisely.
Before you reach for the most fashionable mask you can find, consider first that lightweight cotton or silk are gentler on the skin and create less friction than synthetics such as polyester and rayon.
Once you’ve made your choice, make sure you’re washing it regularly. Cleaning it after every use is best. Dirt, debris and bacteria gather on the mask and provide a breeding ground for maskne.
- Take breaks (when it’s safe to do so)
Let your skin breathe when you’re at home or far away from anyone else. Your skin becomes more susceptible to breakouts the longer you wear your mask. If you don’t have to go on a Target run or run errands, don’t—any opportunity you have to just stay home, the better. Limit your time outdoors and you can protect your skin, your health and others.
- Find the right products to treat your acne
Last but not least, you should find the right products to treat your acne. Whether you’ve dealt with acne before or masks have presented a new skin challenge, there are products out there to help keep your maskne under control. Look for products containing ingredients such as Alpha Hydroxy Acids, Benzoyl Peroxide, Niacinamide, Hyaluronic Acid, Retinoids, Aloe and Hydrocortisone. Be mindful, however, that you should always carefully read all ingredients, warnings and skin type recommendations if you’re introducing a new product.
Be patient and stay humble throughout this process. Wearing a mask is critical for keeping everyone safe during this challenging time. Healthcare workers, nurses and doctors are experiencing far worse skin-related circumstances due to wearing masks for hours. Be mindful of this when you become frustrated with maskne flareups and follow these simple steps to keep them under control.
For other information on skincare essentials, tips, and products, check out the Glow-Up Guide often!