Living during the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way all of us live our daily lives. We’re working remotely, homeschooling our children, social distancing and of course, wearing face masks when we venture outside of our homes. While face masks help prevent the spread of disease, they also wreak havoc on our skin.
If you’re experiencing an increase in clogged pores, blemishes, inflammation and irritation with prolonged mask use, you’re not alone. This condition sweeping the nation is called, ”maskne,” which is a clever combination of “mask” and acne”, and it’s defined by occasional breakouts and irritation along the chin, nose and cheeks caused by friction from wearing a face mask.
So, how do we prevent face mask breakouts? Find out our essential tips for preventing and treating maskne, plus the must-have products that should be in everyone’s acne arsenal.
Why do I get pimples after using a face mask?
If you don’t generally deal with acne, you may be confused by this increase in pimples and blackheads after wearing a mask. Here are two reasons why maskne occurs:
Skin cells can’t shed properly underneath a mask.
Dead skin cells clog pores and lead to blemishes. Normally, we shed them from our face throughout the day, but when you’re wearing mask for prolonged periods, they have nowhere to go, causing them to stay on your skin. Ultimately, they end up in your pores—right where you don’t want them.
The area beneath your mask creates a humid environment which contributes to pimples.
Ever notice you break out more during the hot, humid summer months? Similarly, breathing under your mask creates a hot, humid environment ideal for breeding the bacteria on your skin that leads to breakouts.
How can I protect my face while wearing a mask?
Mask acne doesn’t have to be an inevitable byproduct from keeping yourself and others protected from COVID-19. Take these precautions to prevent and treat maskne.
Make sure your mask is breathable and fits properly.
With a multitude of mask designs readily available, you should have no trouble finding one. Unfortunately, you may need to go through a few different designs and fabric types to find one that works for your skin long-term.
While the homemade mask you purchased online may be cute, the fabric and shape could be a key factor in why you develop increased blemishes. Here is what you should look for in skin-friendly mask:
- Make sure the mask actually fits your face shape. You want it to fit snugly around the nose and sides of the face. This reduces friction that can cause skin irritation.
- Make sure there is enough room for you to actively talk and move your lips without them rubbing against the mask.
- Cotton masks are a good, breathable choice if you want a washable version. However, make sure you wash masks in fragrance-free detergent as fragrance can further irritate sensitive skin.
Additionally, we checked in with LovelySkin CEO and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Joel Schlessinger, to get his take:
“Masks get dirty over the days of wear. If you can, wash your mask daily or every other day if it is being worn most of the day. Alternatively, change it out daily if it is disposable. Mouthwash is a help if you tend to get humidity in your mask area or are wearing a constrictive mask. Generally, the germs that are in your mouth can affect the mask greatly and spread to the face, so mouthwash helps to kill some of the 'bad actors' in your mouth, all while keeping your breath minty-fresh!”
Establish a good skin care regimen.
Ideally, you should wash your face both before and immediately after you wear a face mask. The LovelySkin Luxe Clarifying Gel Cleanser contains both 2% salicylic acid to eliminate existing blemishes and 2% glycolic acid to provide deep exfoliation, which is key to minimizing breakouts. Plus, it features afaLUXE, a dermatologist-developed molecule that ensures cellular turnover with minimal irritation.
Pro Tip: For a multi-tasking product, try the CLn Shampoo as a face wash. It’s great for treating an itchy scalp, but’s also good for acne-prone skin as it’s formulated with purifying ingredients like salicylic acid and sodium hypochlorite.
Since we’re all wearing masks for a while, add an acne treatment to your skin care arsenal. Choose something gentle enough to use every day but strong enough to treat existing blemishes while preventing new ones. The LovelySkin LUXE Acne Care Gel 9% deeply exfoliates with 9% amino acid-based filaggrin antioxidants while still maintaining moisture, making it ideal for those with oily, acne-prone skin. That means powerful anti-acne results, without the irritating side effects.
Finally, maintaining a healthy skin barrier keeps breakouts at bay. Choose an oil-free moisturizer that properly hydrates skin without clogging pores. The Eminence Organics Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer provides light hydration while actively improving skin with CoQ10, antioxidants and vitamins. Yogurt, a natural probiotic, feeds the skin’s microbiome, supporting skin’s natural barrier function.
Add a weekly treatment to rid pores of bacteria.
Preventing maskne means keeping your pores as clear as possible. To do so, add a deeply clarifying mask treatment to your regimen, like the SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Mask. Formulated with bentonite and kaolin clay, this purifying mask pulls bacteria, dirt, oil and debris from pores, giving you a smoother, more refined complexion. Plus, it contains a hydroxy acid blend to further exfoliate skin, an important part of any acne regimen.
Keep products on hand to cleanse and treat on the go.
Whether you wear a mask all day as an essential worker or only while picking up groceries, we all breathe a sigh of relief when we get back into our cars and take off our masks. Before you head home, take a few minutes to quickly cleanse your face, disinfect your mask and treat any visible irritation.
The SUZANOBAGIMD Acne Cleansing Wipes quickly purify skin anytime and easily fit into a purse or bag. They contain witch hazel for immediate astringent benefits, 2% salicylic acid to treat pimples and niacinamide to calm inflammation.
If you have been wearing your mask all day, you probably notice irritation on your cheeks and chin once you take it off. Apply FixMySkin 1% Hydrocortisone Healing Body Balm – Fragrance Free up to four times a day to any irritation. Hydrocortisone heals the inflammation while shea and cocoa butter keep skin comfortable and moisturized.
Finally, give your skin and mask a quick spritz with an anti-microbial disinfecting spray like Lasercyn Dermal Spray. Designed to keep post-procedure or burned skin free of bacteria, this hypochlorous acid spray (which is a key ingredient in many hand sanitizers) provides a quick disinfecting treatment until you have a chance to wash it.
Want more acne care tips? Learn more from our resident expert, Dr. Joel Schlessinger in this acne video series!