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What Is Maskne & How You Can Treat It

What Is Maskne & How You Can Treat It

maskne problems

Welcome to 2020. Times have been tough with Covid-19, and many cities are now starting to open up. In most countries, being out and about requires you to don a face covering, but if you’re anything like us, wearing a mask can leave you feeling less pretty, more zitty. If you’ve noticed your skin’s been acting up, with more breakouts or irritation around your mouth, nose and jawline, we’re here to tell you you might be experiencing maskne (yep, that’s mask induced acne)!

Maskne infographic

What is maskne?

Any pimples, blemishes or acne and perioral dermatitis that come about from contact with your mask are called maskne. It’s another form of acne mechanica, where the mechanical friction of fabric against your skin, compounded by the moisture trapped underneath the fabric, results in spots and rashes. This typically gets worse in humidity (hello Singapore), heat and exercise (imagine the kind of acne a rugby player gets where the helmet rubs their forehead).

Wearing masks, whether reusable or disposable, can worsen existing skin issues or cause new ones. This, paired with stress-related breakouts just makes everything all the more unbearable, BUT there are some precautions you can take. 


How can you prevent maskne?

As increased skin issues may be a consequence of safeguarding public health during this global pandemic, we don’t encourage ditching your masks anytime soon. Instead, here are a few mask and skin hygiene tips to keep your complexion as stable as possible: 

1. Wear masks made from 100% cotton or antimicrobial fabrics.

A multi-layered tight-woven cotton mask still allows your skin to breathe while being a great filter for blocking small particles. Antimicrobial fabric masks include materials that are essentially self-sanitising, keeping it and you clean. They’re also designed to be odour resistant and to help prevent the growth of bacteria on the surface of the fabric. Check out this list of local brands making cool reusable masks in Singapore – some of them include 100% cotton breathable masks with added filters!

2. Wash your mask frequently!

If you do one thing, let it be this! If you leave your mask in your bag or closet in between wears, it will become a hotbed for bacteria if there are any traces of oil, dirt, makeup or sweat. As soon as your mask is wet with moisture, put on a new clean one. Hand wash your reusable masks and let them dry but not in direct sunlight over time it could affect the effectiveness of your mask.

3. Go easy with the ‘at-home spa’ skincare.

Caring for your skin with a pared-down minimalist routine is best right now. After coming indoors, wipe your face with micellar water and wash your face with a gentle non-soap cleanser, followed by a fragrance-free light moisturizer twice a day. Avoid any heavy creams, cocoa butter, coconut oil or petroleum jelly; just let your skin breathe. Why? Your mask will intensify the product’s result on your face. It’s the same as applying Vaseline to cracked feet and covering with a sock overnight — it’s intense and effective, but might be too much for your iffy skin issues. Also, avoid over-exfoliating, using too many face masks or heavy-duty toners which can dry out your skin, encouraging your skin to produce more oil which leads to…you guessed it — acne.

the skin firm natural skincare

Soothe skin with the Natural Micellar Water by The Skin Firm

Beauty tip: Wait 15 minutes after applying moisturiser or sunscreen before you put your mask on, and 30 minutes if you are wearing an N95 mask. This is enough time to let the product seep into your skin and create a seal over your skin.

luxe botanics kigelia moisturizer

Fight breakouts with the Kigelia Corrective Moisturiser by Luxe Botanics

4. Break up with makeup (for a bit).

Now’s the time to tone down on makeup to save your skin some trouble, especially if you know you’ll be wearing your mask for a while. Choose non-comedogenic products and swap out your foundation for a tinted moisturiser with a dab of concealer where necessary if you still need coverage. Or just focus on eye make-up – after all, no-one will be able to tell under the mask! 

5. Wear sunscreen (yes, even indoors).

Even though your lower face is covered, you need to protect the rest of your face. A good sunscreen will protect your complexion from the sun’s UV rays shining in from an open window or the blue light from your computer screen. 

6. De-stress and be more thoughtful about what you eat.

While we can’t buy packaged stress relief from the supermarket, we still need to find pockets of time to unravel. Our mental state has a lot to do with the way our body physically reacts, and that includes our skin. Taking care of your mental health, regular sleep patterns and eating healthily will show on your skin first. And even though being indoors more encourages snacking and potential binge eating, it could lead to even more acne. Try to moderate your intake of oily and processed foods. Better yet, try purchasing or even making your own snacks with coconut oil, and implement nut milk into your diet.

how to fix maskne problems

How do I soothe maskne if I’ve got it?

Good news: maskne can be treated with acne medication, clean skincare products and good skin hygiene. While we’re not claiming to be professional dermatologists, here are some tried and tested product recommendations to keep your mask-induced acne to a minimum. 

1. Stop, don’t touch your face!

Any kind of acne gets worse when you touch it due to all the dirt and germs that rest on our fingers. Even the CDC strongly advises on not touching your face anyway to prevent any contamination and exposure to COVID-19 to your nose, mouth or eyes. If you’re a seasoned face toucher and need any help with this, this webcam tool will train you not to touch your face

2. Add gentle exfoliators in your routine.

Swap out three nights of the week from gentle face wash to an exfoliating cleanser. This will clear up any excess oil buildup, dead skin and dirt which usually contribute to zits and pimples. Avoid any physical scrubs or gritty exfoliators which can damage your skin barrier. 

alcheme skincare exfoliator maskne

Keep skin clean and comfortable with the Exfoliating Cleansing Gel from alche{me}

3. Go for retinoid and spot treatments.

Retinoid is essentially a class of chemicals related to vitamin A, ranging in strengths and forms that are available over the counter or by prescription. While retinoids were first used to treat acne in young people, additional skin benefits like softening fine lines and lightening hyperpigmentation made it an anti-ageing staple. Retinol, a type of retinoid, has been all the hype because of its collagen stimulating and blemish-fighting characteristics. Start slow if it’s new to you – perhaps three nights a week to test your skin’s reaction. However, you might experience some side effects such as minor breakouts, flaky or dry skin so don’t forget to add a serum before you moisturise! 

kigelia serum skincare fix maskne

A breakout-fighting powerhouse – Kigelia Corrective Serum by Luxe Botanics

4. Use targeted treatments for acne.

Salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide are commonly reached for to treat spots. Cleansers to treat acne, pimple patches and types of benzoyl peroxide products can help with your maskne if your skin is acne-prone, to begin with. If you’re using salicylic acid, a few things to note – avoid the sun and don’t use it if your face is dry. Benzoyl peroxide also tends to be drying, so look for products that are 2.5 per cent to 5 per cent benzoyl peroxide if you’re afraid of added irritation.

the ordinary salicylic acid maskne

Try out this Salicylic Acid 2% Solution by The Ordinary.

5. For more moderate to severe exacerbation, go for prescription medication.

Usually, it takes time to see a massive difference with using benzoyl peroxide, so patience is key. If you’ve been using commercial products for weeks and they still don’t do the job, don’t fret and make an appointment with a dermatologist. They will be able to recommend a treatment, whether it is a topical ointment, oral medication or procedures such as chemical peels. There’s no such thing as having too little acne to see a dermatologist. However, these treatments are no replacement for a good daily skincare routine. Imagine your regular skincare as brushing your teeth and going for facials and procedures as going to a dentist to get your teeth cleaned! 

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