How to beat mask acne

Is your face mask causing your acne?

Just when we thought we had a handle on our blemishes, in walked face masks…

Have you found yourself wondering if your face mask is giving you acne? You’re quite right to have cause for concern. Living through these uncertain times has taken a serious toll on our complexions.

Mask Acne

From increased alcohol intake (we hate to break it to you but those end-of-day Margheritas spell not-so-happy-hour for your complexion), soaring stress levels and even a lack of fresh air from too much time spent sofa surfing – living through a pandemic has doled out hit after hit and cause many of us to struggle with the symptoms of isolation skin

Whether you’ve always had the kind of clear complexion other people toil for or if your skin type is blemish-prone – but you usually manage to keep blemishes at bay with a little skincare sorcery – chances are you’ve noticed a smattering of spots popping up in places they weren’t before.

The good news is that these blemishes aren’t the result of anything you’ve ‘done wrong’ – in fact, if you’re anything like us, you’ve used the extra time to swot up on at-home facials and now have dermatologist-worthy knowledge of what all of those amazing acids and ingredients can do.

Instead, these little pimples and pustules might be cropping up because of your face mask or covering. 

This ‘new’ type of acne – dubbed ‘maskne’ by the beauty industry and acne mechanica by medics – is the real deal. And nobody wants it.

Read on to find out how you can still shield without your skin suffering…

Is your face mask causing your spots?

With more countries enforcing the use of face masks to help slow the spread of Covid-19, many of us have found ourselves wearing face coverings during supermarket trips, socially distances meetups and the like. 

While we’re all for this practice and the increasing levels of safety it offers, our skin is less than impressed. In fact, let’s be frank, it’s struggling.

‘Wearing a mask can affect the skin’s protective barrier,’ explains TONIC15 founder and skincare expert Jin Kwon.

‘This is the outermost layer of skin and it’s key job is to protect us from bacteria, germs and irritation. Keeping it happy is key to skin health.’

 ‘Face masks result in friction – especially if worn for extended periods – and this aggravates skin over time. Add to that the sweat, sebum and dirt that masks traps and it’s little wonder our pores get clogged while wearing coverings. They create a perfect breeding ground for bacteria that thrive in these conditions,’ adds Jin.

It’s unlikely that be suffering from large pustules or angry red spots, but what you might have noticed are whiteheads or little under-the-skin spots around the areas where your mask has contact with your skin – think the bridge of the nose and your cheeks where the straps impact skin.

If your spots are occurring where your mask sits, yup, you guessed it, you’ve got maskne.

How can I treat this type of acne?

While mask acne or ‘maskne’ is likely to be a temporary phenomenon while we continue to fight Coronavirus, from switching up your skincare to opting for a cotton face covering, there are several things you can do to improve the condition of your skin.  

Switch your face covering fabric

While it’s up to you which type of mask you choose based on the level of safety you’re searching for, dermatologists and skincare expect suggest that switching to a covering crafted from 100% cotton might just be your skin’s best bet.

Not only is cotton kinder and softer on the skin but it allows for more effective ventilation and reduces the humid conditions that bacteria love.

A quick side note: whatever type of mask you’re using, it’s really important to make sure your hands are clean every time you put on or take off your mask to prevent contamination – use hand sanitiser if you’re on the go.

Then wash your fabric mask after every use with a fragrance-free laundry detergent – this is an essential step, especially for sensitive skin, and will ensure that your covering is free of blemish-causing bacteria. Easy. 

Free yourself from foundation

If you’re used to putting a full face of makeup on in the morning, now might the time to down your brushes and tools.

‘Face masks create an occlusive barrier which prevents skin from ‘breathing’. If you add makeup to the mix, you’re asking for blocked pores,’ says Jin.

Instead, focus on glow-giving skincare that’ll give the appearance of makeup without the need for full-coverage foundation.

I'm From Mugwort Mask

We like to apply the I’m From Mugwort Mask, which detoxifies skin (big blemish-busting tick), while also adding a great glow.

You’ll find you can get away with little more than a brow gel and mascara and still look ‘made up’. Win win.  

Hit spots head on 

As masks become a part of daily life, the problem is unlikely to go away on its own. In fact, Jin suggests adding a targeted treatment after you cleanse, tone and treat skin.

Refuse the temptation to pop or pick these spots,’ advises Jin. ‘This will only exacerbate the problem by spreading bacteria to other areas or even causing hyperpigmentation or scarring.’
Dr Ceuracle Acne Care

‘Instead, sweep Dr. Ceuracle AC Care Green Two over skin – it contains Liquorice Extract and Aloe Vera extract to deliver deep hydration and acne relief, as well as Centella Asiatica which helps to strengthen the skin’s barrier.

Then, follow up with a treatment to nix blemishes directly. The Dr. Ceuracle Tea Tree Purifine 70 Spot, which contains 70% Tea Tree Extract, helps to soothe pimples and provide instant relief.’

Hydrate the skin

As maskne is a result of a compromised skin barrier, if you’ve noticed breakouts where your skin makes contact with your mask, you can likely rectify the problem with a heavy hit of hydration.

‘Treating and preventing future maskne lies in rebuilding the skin’s protective barrier,’ says Jin.

‘Avoid using retinol and strong actives on the affected area. Instead, look out for fragrance-free products with calming ingredients such as Centella Asiatica, Ceramides, Propolis and Mugwort, which are all incredibly gentle and soothing on skin.’

‘You’ll also want products that are non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic to ensure you’re giving your pores a good defence against clogging,’ adds Jin.

Pyunkangyul Moisture CreamFree from fragrance and artificial dyes, the Pyunkang Yul Moisture Cream is non-comedogenic and none-acnegenic making it a great choice for revitalising and replenishing skin suffering from maskne.

Readily and quickly absorbed, it offers kind-to-skin moisture that also helps to soothe and restore sensitive complexions.

You can also layer a skin-calming serum under your moisturiser for an extra layer of protection.

Try the By Wishtrend polyphenols In Propolis 15% Ampoule which is rich in antioxidants from Propolis extract and has a soothing, calming and anti-inflammatory effect on skin.

While maskne might be a temporary part of life while we adjust to the new normal, there’s no need to put up and make do.

With a few easy tweaks, you can help give skin a fighting chance of keeping itself in the clear.

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