Masks have undeniably become part of our every day lives. Whilst they are something that is very much needed at the moment, one unfortunate side effect is that it is having adverse effects on the skin… this skin issue is being called ‘Maskne’. The combined effect of the friction, the warmth of your breath causing humidity against the skin has led to breakouts, dryness and redness for many people. However, this is something that you can put things into place to help avoid and treat this condition, so we thought we’d reach out to Charlene Stoker, head of Education at IMAGE Skincare to talk all about Maskne.

Firstly… what is Maskne?

The medical term for “maskne” is acne mechanica, a skin condition brought on by prolonged wear of facial personal protective equipment. It can lead to inflammation, redness, sore skin, dry skin and even breakouts.

So what are the causes?

  • A face mask or covering can lead to blocked pores as pores will become blocked with sweat, makeup and oil.
  • Air cannot circulate around your face with a mask on, so it becomes trapped inside the mask and the humidity causes by the moisture allows bacteria to breed on the skin, leading to breakouts.
  • Breakouts are also caused by friction, which is why some people notice breakouts on areas of tight fitting clothing.

How to prevent it

There are many ways to help stop irritation and clogged pores, and while they might not completely stop the situation, they can certainly help to reduce the effects and soothe the skin. Some of the things you can do include:

  • Change your mask. Daily. Wash your masks using gentle detergent that won’t irritate the sensitive skin on your face.
  • Wash your face first. Use a gentle cleanser to remove all the dirt and oil so this won’t get built up under the mask. Charlene suggests “a gentle pH balanced cleanser”.
  • Apply a moisturiser – this will act as a barrier between your face and the mask, keeping it hydrated whilst also reducing friction.
  • Ditch the makeup – this’ll just add to the build up under the mask, although Charlene recommends that “if you do wear makeup use a mineral make up to prevent blocked pores”
  • You should also wash your face as soon as you get home to remove that build up from the skin and apply serums and moisturisers straight away for better absorption.
  • If you do have any breakouts… don’t pick at them or touch them!
  • Change pillowcases regularly, wash your makeup brushes and use a fresh muslin cloth or face towel every day.

Charlene also recommends having professional skin treatments to give a deeper cleanse and exfoliation to promote healing on the skin and prevent future breakouts. Plus your therapist will be able to advise on products that are best for you and your concerns.

What to add to your current routine

 Looking for particular ingredients to add to your skincare routine to help look after your skin? Here’s Charlene’s recommendations:

  • Regular exfoliation is really important as this will prevent pores from becoming blocked. Salicylic acid is a fantastic ingredient to work into the pore and clear it out, regulate oil production and prevent future breakouts. Chemical exfoliations can penetrate the skin much deeper compared to physical (beads) exfoliation as that will only work on the very surface of the skin and we want to avoid too much friction. If someone’s skin is irritated then gentle plant based enzyme exfoliation will work better to remove the dead skin to prevent from a build-up leading to breakouts.
  • Retinol will help to regulate the skin, if it is acting differently to normal. Retinol is a cell communicator and will tell your cells to act differently, like a younger healthier cell therefore helping with nearly all concerns and needs to be introduced slowly.
  • Clay based masks are good to draw out impurities and oil from the skin, soothing masks to calm irritation and sensitivity.
  • It is really important to make sure you are keeping your skin hydrated, if the skin becomes dehydrated you will lose moisture from the skin and the healing process slows down and skin will become more sensitised and breakouts could become worse. Oil free moisturisers will hydrate without being heavy.

Here’s our recommendations…

Salicylic Acid
The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser

salicylic acid

Alpha H
Power Peel

Clay Mask
The Afro Hair and Skin’s Clay Mask

afro hair and skin rebirth

However, if your skin has become very dry, chapped and compromised, active ingredients like retinols and acids should be avoided and you should aim to rebuild the skin first with soothing and calming ingredients first. Once the barrier function is working once again, actives can be introduced.

For the Men

 Maskne has also become an issue for men and all the above applies to them too. However, shaving can already cause irritation on the face, so adding a mask to the mix could add another level of irritation. Some things they can do to minimise irritation include:

  • Avoiding alcohol in their aftershave – using something soothing instead.
  • Use a pH skin balanced cleanser to shave with.
  • A nice face oil will also do wonders to help repair the barrier function and protect the skin from the elements.

If you’re currently having issues with Maskne, what have you found to be great treatment options?

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