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A face mask is now officially part of our daily routine and with that may come with a whole new type of skin trouble, currently known as “maskne.” Masks provide a layer of protection, but they can also irritate the skin, clog pores, and flare acne. Friction, moisture, trapped dirt & bacteria create the perfect breeding ground for breakouts, flare ups, and general “maskne.”

How do face masks cause acne and irritation to the skin? 

There are three main ways masks cause breakouts:

Rubbing: Masks cause irritation through friction and chafing, almost like a rug burn. The areas most at-risk are the bridge of the nose and where elastic bands hit behind the ears. Over time, tightly fitting masks can put enough pressure on the skin to cause it to breakdown. 

Irritation: The material of a mask absorbs the skin’s natural oils. For some people, this leads to dryness and sensitivity. Residue from detergents and fabric softeners also gets stuck underneath the mask and can cause irritation. When irritation becomes inflammation, you see redness, dry patches, peeling, or dark marks. If you have a skin condition like rosacea or psoriasis, the inflammation can make it flare. 

Occlusion: Pores get clogged and can become pimples or acne cysts. Your breath trapped beneath the mask makes the skin surface warm and moist. Besides regular acne, this environment can lead to a breakout called folliculitis, which is when yeast or bacteria infect hair follicles. 

There are ways you can combat maskne by spending a little more time being kind to your face. This is not the time to add a fancy new product to your routine as sometimes it can take your skin awhile to acclimate to the new product.

Here’s what you can do to prevent or help mask acne: 

Minimize makeup. Since we have to have the mask on virtually all the time, minimizing makeup underneath will give your skin the room it may need to breathe better. Ease up on full foundational coverage as many foundations aren’t non-comedogenic, or pore-friendly, and can make things worse. 

Wash your mask. The best masks to wear for the general public are cotton but it’s important to wear clean masks. Wash them daily if possible. Wearing a dirty mask can only make things worse.  

Wash your face correctly before and after wearing the mask. In the evening, double cleanse and put your nighttime moisturizer on.

Save the thick/rich moisturizers for the evening. Occluding too much product during the day may cause flair ups as the skin isn’t allowed to breath and turn over very well. 

Exfoliate regularly. A GENTLE exfoliant 2-3 times a week will help the skin in the best of times and it’s even more important when dealing with wearing an occlusive mask all the time. Removing the dirt/grime and dead skin cells will allow moisturizers and serums sink in and work better.  

Stick to fragrance-free laundry detergent. When washing your mask, choose a fragrance-free laundry detergent and lay flat to dry. Fragrance within fabric can be an irritant, so you definitely don’t want it on your face. 

When treating open breakouts, some acne medications like Salicylic acid and sulfur have been shown to have positive results on acne. Salicylic acid acts as an exfoliant to flush follicles and pores to help prevent and clear acne up. A mild salicylic acid cleanser, cleansing pads or light salicylic moisturizer could do the trick in managing mask acne. 

Maskne, like regular acne, is manageable with a little kindness towards your skin to keep it soothed and balanced. 

Come visit me at Origin to treat your skin to extra love and care,