Updated: Apr 19
I know wearing a mask is old news and so boring but it’s a reality and really a way of life for us all, with the summer blazing heat on the rise have you noticed what is happening to your skin underneath your mask? Let me enlighten you, yep this is known as “maskne” this is basically now going to be an everyday for us. It is known as acne mechanica or ‘mask-acne’ which we need to know how to handle and that’s exactly what I’m going guide you on. This disastrous side effect from wearing a mask shows up as pimples, redness, or irritation around your mouth, cheeks, and jawline.
The most important thing you can do when it comes to “maskne” is to pay attention to how your skin is reacting to wearing a mask.
Why and how does this happen?
A healthy skin, contains some bacteria and yeast, but when pores become clogged due to an excess amount sweat and moisture from the mask, these organisms overgrow, leading to pimples or acne cysts.
The warm, humid weather in the summer months like what we in South Africa are going to be experiencing over the next few months can make “maskne” specifically unpleasant.
The combination of sweat, oil, and moisture from breathing under the mask can clog pores, in addition, the friction and chafing of the mask in contact with the moist skin can cause the skin to break down.
How can this be prevented?
1. Wash your face more regularly.
I am assuming you are already washing your face twice a day, which should be your normal skin care regime. With “maskne” around the prevention and management is the answer. I would recommend carrying your face wash with you and wash your face in this area up to four times a day if needs be. The aim is to keep the skin clean and dry. Ensure you wash your hands before you touch your face or you mask. I would recommend a face wash like Cetaphil which is Ideal for dry, sensitive skin. Suitable for all skin types, clinically tested hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, so it won't irritate skin or clog your pores.
In addition to your extensive washing, I do recommend you exfoliate at least three times a week. You want to be sure your exfoliator contains alpha and beta hydroxyl acids to exfoliate and
hyaluronic acid, which acts as a moisturizing magnet. Or if you like me, and like to keep it natural I highly recommend the Face Gommage from Skin Food Apothecary. Skin Food Apothecary is completely natural and organic and it is produced locally in South Africa.
3. Apply moisturizers during the day and repair your skin with serums at night.
Do so after washing your face to prevent dryness and to repair the skin's natural protective barrier. I prefer to opt for moisturizers that are as natural as possible and that are particularly lightweight on the skin during the daytime but still give me the moisture I need.
I love using a serum on my skin, I swear by the Luminous Elixir which defends against free radicals, increases skins elasticity and is high in vitamins combined with Egyptian Magic Cream which is pure bee propolis.
4. Create a barrier.
When “maskne” shows up as skin irritation, you may need a "barrier" product which is a topical formulation used in industrial applications and as a cosmetic to place a physical barrier between the skin and contaminants that may irritate the skin.
5. Skip your usual makeup.
Make Up has now taken a turn – we are actually going to save! Yes you heard right! See this as a saving more than “I’m not wearing any” It’s now time we can focus on our eye make-up, and focus on those brows we always wanted. I don’t recommend wearing any foundation under your mask or in the areas on you face that the mask covers.
We do know that wearing too many products under the mask can cause a build-up on the skin. Forget your foundation, but don’t forget your skincare.
6. Choose masks wisely.
Opt for a natural fibre mask like cotton, to reduce rubbing and irritation. When working out with a mask, sweat and friction are inevitable, so the key is to use a clean, dry mask, or even better a disposable mask every time.
7. Don't forget to wash your mask after every use. Of course, as a safety precaution and to avoid the spread of COVID-19 but also to remove sweat, bacteria and oils from the mask.
Can you treat “maskne”?
Firstly, yes! It is self-treatable.
Spot-treat. If you're already experiencing this unwanted horror, “maskne”, you can try these DIY remedies.
Tea Tree Oil which I love to use as it is an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and anti-microbial and it contains nourishing properties for the skin.
Another absolute favourite is Aloe Vera. I apply this to my skin every morning and this directly from the plant. I cut the leaf from an Aloe plant and rub the gel over my face and wa-la!
Aloe Vera is specifically great as it regenerates the skin in wound healing, it has antioxidant properties and it cools, soothes and hydrates your skin. Its also great for men who have beards and struggle with ingrown hairs
Masks. I’m talking about the mandatory self-care ones…and this in the comfort of your own home! The main ingredient that you need for this magic mask is turmeric which possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, great for any skin conditions. Turmeric also has great health benefits when taken orally.
Magic Turmeric Mask
There are many recipes available for this mask but this one I find the easiest.
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbs plain yogurt
3 drops of tea tree or lavender oil
½ tsp raw honey
Mix together and spread on your whole face, or use it just on the cheeks and jawline, avoiding the eye area, leave on for 15 – 20 min.
The last resort would be to use a treatment containing salicylic acid which clears blocked pores and reduces swelling and redness. Retinol Creams are also widely used to clear any type of skin condition, I do however recommend that if none of these above-mentioned methods work you may need to speak with your Skincare Therapist or Dermatologist.
If you are in Johannesburg or Cape Town I highly reccommend Dermology for all your skincare needs.