With Freedom Day – the date when all Covid-19 restrictions were due to be lifted – delayed for a month due to rising infections, face mask wear is set to go on a little longer. Rumour even has it that face masks will be compulsory forever!
Whilst reduced transmission rates and better safety are said to come with face mask-wearing, there’s one less positive side effect that accompanies the use of facial coverings – mask acne or ‘maskne’.
Here we take a closer look at maskne, investigate its causes and reveal the solutions that will help you overcome the condition, even in the heat of summer.
What is maskne?
As the name suggests, maskne is acne that’s induced by the wearing of a face mask. It’s usually found on the nose bridge, chin, cheeks and jawline, all points that come into contact with the facial covering. It can show itself as breakouts, blemishes, irritation and redness.
With mask wear still essential, maskne is, unfortunately, a common skin complaint. Recent research found that in China, over 80% of healthcare professionals who wear facial coverings day in, day out, suffer from facial skin issues.
But it’s not just healthcare workers who are affected. Acne breakouts have shown a notably increase across people from all walks of life.
What causes mask acne?
The warming weather is making the situation critical for many maskne sufferers as the moist, damp environment underneath the mask gets even more humid and attractive to breakout-causing bacteria. But that’s not the half of it!
We’ll let dermatologist Angeline Yong explain more about what exactly causes maskne:
“Constant rubbing of the masks against our skin causes micro-tears, allowing easier entry for bacteria and dirt to clog up our pores… Breathing into a mask also creates a hot and moist environment that leads to the build-up of sweat, oil and bacteria. Add on the fact that face masks are occlusive [designed to block things] by nature, and it’s a recipe for skin disaster.”
Wearing a facial covering causes a double whammy of a skincare issue, with the breached skin microbiome letting in the troublesome bacteria that naturally thrives underneath the face mask to cause breakout after breakout.
How can I prevent maskne?
Prevention is of course better than cure, and by taking some necessary steps you can lower your chances of developing mask-induced acne.
Choosing your mask wisely is the first step to preventing maskne, especially if you are already prone to breakouts. The material of your chosen mask must be kind to the skin and shouldn’t cause too much friction.
Whilst it’s important for your mask to provide a solid barrier to protect you against Covid-19, it also needs to allow for air circulation to ensure a skin-friendly, under-mask environment. With this in mind, washable silk masks are great options.
Use moisturiser as a buffer, especially at mask contact points such as the nose, cheeks and jawline. Choose a lightweight, breathable, fluid state moisturiser or hydrating gel instead of a thicker cream, and apply before you wear your mask. It’ll reduce the chance of pore-clogging, nourish the skin and minimise mask friction.
Washing your mask regularly will also keep maskne causing bacteria at bay. Sweat, oil and bacteria can easily build up underneath your mask without regular washing. Ideally, you should swap your mask for a clean one after each wear.
A consistent skincare routine is another must for preventing and treating maskne breakouts. Complete your skincare regime day and night, choosing products that are organic, high quality, lightweight, and breathable; you can find just that by shopping our skincare range.
Avoiding a full face of heavy makeup and opting for the natural look is another way to keep your pores clear, your mask clean, and your face free from breakouts.
Image: Tiwiplusk / Shutterstock.com