This “new normal” requires us to wear masks more regularly and for longer periods of time. While we’re covering up our mouths and noses to stop the spread of germs, some of us are uncovering a new problem — 'maskne', or mask-related acne.
What's behind 'Maskne'?
When you breathe or talk, your mask tends to trap in a lot of hot air. Besides being annoying and fogging your glasses, this air creates a warm, humid environment — which is an ideal setting for bacteria and other flora, such as demodex (types of skin mites that naturally live on our skin) to grow. These bacterial imbalances combined with friction from your mask can promote acne and rosacea flare ups, as well as something called perioral dermatitis. This is when fine pimples and pustules appear around the nose and mouth.
Can certain mask fabrics cause 'Maskne'?
It can all have an effect, a lot of the issue can be how clean the mask is. Lightweight fabrics will be better for your skin, eg. silk. Changing your mask frequently can really help reduce irritation, especially after sweating or exercising. After each use, wash your masks with a fragrance-free detergent and rinse them twice. At the moment I am loving silk face masks. I have about 5 so I can use two a day and have the others as back ups.
Products to help treat 'Maskne'
- Cleanser: Finding the right balance of ingredients to clear, hydrate and rebalance the skin is important. Using a PH balanced hydrating cleanser in the morning, and in the evening using a PH balanced oil cleanser followed by a second cleanse with a salicylic cleanser will help control bacteria and unclog the follicles. Make sure you have no allergies or sensitivity to salicylic acid and avoid the eye area.
- Hydrating serums: Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide will be important to increase water levels, balance out oil, calm and support the skin.
- Moisturiser: Using the correct texture for your skin, eg. oil free or oil rich will be a great layer of protection.
- Antioxidants: Vitamin C being one of the strongest to help protect and strengthen the skin.
- Retinol: Using vitamin A helps normalise a lot of skin issues, it is also a great antioxidant and helps unclog the follicles.
- Sunscreen: Believe it or not the protection still helps against 'maskne'! Especially mineral SPF, which is a zinc and titanium based sunscreen.
- Makeup: Letting the skin breath while having extra antioxidants will help support the skin barrier without adding any extra clogging or stress onto the skin. If possible, keep the skin clean and hydrated under the mask but if you do wear make up, mineral is best!
- Supplements: We know now through extensive research that our gut microbiome is so connected to our skin. So taking regular probiotics, zinc and omegas can really enhance your skin health, as well as control inflammation and help with the healing time for 'maskne'.
As Professional Skin Therapists, we absolutely love what we do and we encourage you to reach out to us for a chat or video call about 'maskne' or any skin issues you are having at this time.