2020 really has been an interesting year, we’re not only in the middle of a pandemic but also have a new type of acne on the market i.e. MASKNE. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re either lucky enough not to experience it or you’re just not familiar with this term…YET. I wish it was the former for me but unfortunately, it’s not. So, for today’s blog post I’m going to give you a breakdown of what MASKNE is, what causes it and how to get deal with it!
Disclaimer: I am not an esthetician, these tips are based on my research and my experience with MASKNE, and how I dealt with it for my skin type. Please consult your dermatologist/esthetician to get product recommendations tailored to your skin type.
What is MASKNE?
MASKNE is acne caused by wearing a face mask for an extended period of time. If you’re wearing a face mask for over 5-6 hours a day, it’s likely that you’ll start to feel small bumps or pimples around the chin and jawline. This is what people have very aptly termed MASKNE (MASK+ACNE).
Over the last month I’ve been personally dealing with MASKNE because I have to wear a face mask for ~ 8 hours a day, and well lets just say my skin is NOT happy. Before you get any ideas, I’m not telling you to ditch the face mask because of acne – please wear your face masks in public spaces to protect yourself and and those around you – but I will give you tips to help you deal with MASKNE.
However, before I give you the tips you need to know what triggers MASKNE.
What triggers MASKNE:
- Makeup – Maskne is 100% triggered if you wear a lot of makeup under your face mask. This is because when you’re wearing makeup your skin is not able to breathe, so with the added barrier of the face mask, we’re more likely to get a build of oil and bacteria that trigger acne. So as much as possible avoid heavy makeup in the area that is covered by the face mask and use a bb cream or tinted moisturizer instead.
- Skin Type – This one is a little out of our control but important to know so you can adjust your skin care routine accordingly. Based on your skin type you could be more prone to maskne. Particularly if you have oily/combination skin. This does not mean you should dry out your skin to avoid maskne instead the goal is to protect the skin barrier.
- Sweat + Bacteria – Lastly when you’re wearing a mask for an extended period of time you’re going to sweat. This sweat and bacteria can trigger acne, because once again your skin is not being able to breathe.
Now that you have an idea of what triggers MASKE, here are the 5 tips to help you deal with it:
5 Tips to help you deal with MASKNE:
I want to preface these tips by saying that keep your routine SIMPLE! You should avoid trying out new products, or being really harsh with exfoliants. The goal is to treat active acne and protect the skin barrier. Your morning routine in particular should be as simple as possible i.e. cleanser, moisturizer, spot treatment, and sunscreen
1. Salicylic Acid in the morning
If you have active breakouts, salicylic acid is your best friend in your morning routine. Salicylic acid is gentle enough but effective to help with sebum control and also helps heal active breakouts.
Use salicylic acid as a spot treatment in the morning BUT don’t use a very strong salicylic acid serum, <2% should be enough. Remember, you want to be gentle with your skin and protect the skin barrier. ALWAYS follow up with a moisturizer and sunscreen regardless of your skin type. Sunscreen is non-negotiable especially when using actives (salicylic acid) in your morning routine.
I’ve spoken about this ingredient before, BUT honestly, Niacinamide is a magical ingredient. It regulates sebum production, strengthens the skin barrier, and fights dullness and uneven skin tone. Incorporate Niacinamide in your morning/night time skincare routine in the form of a serum or moisturizer.
Just check the ingredient list for your moisturizer to see if it has Niacinamide (should be higher up on the ingredient list as this implies a higher concentration).
With Maskne, sebum control is even more important because you want you avoid acne under the mask which is triggered by excess sebum. Niacinamide can help prevent that and thus make sure that you’re less prone to Maskne.
3. Gentle Cleanser
Building on the tips from before, and the importance of protecting your skin barrier use a GENTLE cleanser. Avoid exfoliating cleansers, foaming cleansers, and cleansers with alcohol because they can strip your skin of it’s natural oils which triggers more oil production and thus maskne.
Also, use your cleanser in the morning and at night, because you want to make sure you skin is cleansed well before you wear a mask and after you take it off! This is essential because you want to minimize the bacteria on your face so that you can PREVENT maskne.
4. Retinol + Moisturizer
This tip is ONLY for your NIGHT TIME routine. You want to speed up the process of healing your maskne, and retinol is going to help you do that. So, use retinol in your nighttime routine and follow it up with a good moisturizer.
If you’ve never used a retinol before start off with a low concentration retinol (0.15-0.2) so that you don’t irritate your skin, to be extra safe you can use retinol as a spot treatment instead of applying it all over your face.
Remember to follow up with a good moisturizer, because you want to protect your skin barrier (I know you’re tired of hearing me say this over and over but its important).
DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT mix retinol with AHA’s and BHA’s!! This is going to dry out your skin and can make your acne much worse!
5. Wash + Change your face mask often and Test Fabrics
This is probably the most important tip, so read carefully! You need to be washing your face mask often and not wear the same face mask for two days in a row. There’s a whole lot of bacteria build up on the face mask which will make your acne worse.
You should also be changing your face mask as often as you can during the day, have backups in your bag with you at all times. This is very important especially after a long walk, where you may sweat a lot. Changing your face masks often will limit the bacteria build up and thus help prevent maskne.
Also, test fabrics, the fabric of your face mask may be irritating your skin and further leading to flare-ups. Test different fabric types before committing to stocking up on one kind of face mask. Alternatively, use disposable face masks.
If you can get your hands on some Clindamycin Phosphate topical gel, this can significantly help prevent your maskne from getting worse since it helps limit the spread of bacteria. I would recommend using Clindamycin at night after your cleanser.
In addition to all the tips I’ve given you today, these two videos by Susan Yara from Mixed Makeup and Skincare by Hyram are extremely helpful in understanding more about MASKNE! I encourage you to watch these if you want more information or tips!
Helpful youtube videos from Susan Yara and Hyram:
I hope that these tips help you tackle your maske. Just remember to keep your skin care routine SUPER SIMPLE! You can experiment a little in your night time routine, but I would recommend keeping it simple till your maskne heals completely or is atleast under control.
If you want a list of product recommendations let me know in the comments below and I will create a list for the resource library 🙂
Please sound off in the comments if you have any questions at all.
Here’s to the start of your self care journey!