If you’ve experienced a spike in blemishes and breakouts lately, you’re not alone. As we wear face masks to protect one another during the COVID-19 pandemic, a surprising side effect has emerged: mask acne, aka “maskne.”
Maskne is essentially what’s called acne mechanica, a type of acne typically seen in athletes that’s caused by excess friction, pressure, or heat. Because our masks rub against the same facial areas each day for hours at a time, trapping in sweat and heat, they create the perfect conditions for a really bad case of maskne.
While masks are often mandatory maskne doesn’t have to be. Here are 4 simple steps for preventing breakouts and blemishes caused by wearing a face mask.
Masks made from 100% cotton are breathable and your best option for avoiding maskne. Plus, they’re reusable, making them eco-friendly and cost effective, so no more wasting a bunch of disposable masks when you really don’t have to.
We suggest having several cotton masks on hand so you can swap them out during the day to avoid exposing your skin to excess sweat and grime. Make sure to wash the masks in hot water after each use to limit bacteria and makeup build-up. Using a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic soap will help you avoid additional facial irritation, too.
As soon as you’re done wearing your mask each day, wash your face right away. Like immediately. The sooner you can remove the dirt, oils, germs, and excess moisture that have been hanging out on your face all day, the better.
If you have multiple errands to run and will be in and out of your home throughout the day, we strongly suggest washing your face in between outings. Similarly, if you’re at work all day, try to find a few moments where you can step away and do a quick cleanse. These extra cleanings should be done in addition to your normal morning and evening skincare routines.
Quick cleansing tutorial: gently massage your chosen cleanser all over, paying extra attention to those areas of your face the mask covers. After at least 60 seconds, thoroughly rinse off the cleanser, and that’s it. Keep in mind that extra cleansing can dry out your skin, so follow up each session with a few spritzes of toner followed by a moisturizer.
If you’re able to ditch the makeup for a while, we encourage it! Now’s the perfect opportunity to flaunt your beautiful, bare skin.
Combined with the friction, sweat, and warmth your mask helps create, makeup can cause additional irritation and clogged pores. If you really can’t skip on the makeup, no worries, just be smart about how and when you wear it.
If you’re working from home for example, try applying makeup only when you really need it, like before video chats and meetings. Then, promptly wash it off when you’re done. Or, you can try just wearing less makeup, using a tinted moisturizer, BB or CC cream instead of a normal, heavier foundation. Personally, we’ve found that computer and smartphone cameras are pretty forgiving, making the difference hard to notice.
Got errands to run? Why not ditch the makeup momentarily—you can do it! If you’re going out or working in person and makeup is a must, we suggest only applying it above your maskline. Either way, just be sure to remove it, cleanse, and moisturize as soon as you make it home. If it’s already close enough to bedtime, you can simply cleanse and complete your full nighttime skincare routine as normal.
It’s gross but true: our mouths are a breeding ground for nasty bacteria, especially toward the back third and around the tongue. And you guessed it, our masks trap in all that grossness, which only serves to make maskne worse.
Brushing and flossing (yes, you have to do that, too) at least twice a day or between meals can actually have a large impact on the severity of maskne breakouts. Don’t forget to scrub or scrape your tongue, too.
If you experience maskne, first things first: take a deep breath and realize this is happening to almost everybody right now. Second, don’t make matters worse by picking at your skin. Popping blemishes tends to make things far worse, further inflaming your skin and pushing whatever bacteria, dirt, and oils are clogging your pores deeper down inside.
Instead, treat your next breakout or blemish with this simple and super effective DIY spot treatment, which includes the anti-aging powerhouse immortelle essential oil:
- 2-3 drops immortelle oil (aka Helichrysum italicum)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon of a carrier oil, such as jojoba
Mix the ingredients into a paste and apply it to inflamed skin spots, pimples, or blackheads. Then, let it sit on your skin for about 15 minutes before rinsing it off.
Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and will help reduce any puffiness caused by blemishes or acne. The immortelle essential oil will also help reduce inflammation, redness, and help restore your skin to its non-irritated pre-maskne beauty.
If you follow the steps above and keep a regular morning and evening skincare routine, you should be able to mask up with no worries about maskne.