In the last few months, we’ve seen rise to maskne aka acne that pops up under masks.
Acne-sufferers have seen an increase in breakouts and women with typically clear skin have also been plagued with pimples. And my Instagram and Facebook DMs have been flooded with women asking me what to do.
While social media has taken hold of the term, it’s technically called acne mechanica. It’s typically seen on football players where their helmet makes contact with the face.
It’s a result of the friction of fabric against the skin. When this happens, the hair follicles become irritated and trigger pimples to pop up (including cystic acne). Now, let’s add in the breeding ground of bacteria that’s created from the excess humidity under the mask and the stress of the last few months…
The perfect storm for the dreaded maskne.
This seems simple enough but it cannot be overstated. You need to be washing it after each use. The bacteria that’s hanging out on the fabric will lead to additional breakouts if you continuously wear it. Would you wear your underwear two days in a row? I hope not.
If you’re using disposable masks, don’t keep reusing the same one. You need to be using a fresh mask to keep things sanitary underneath.
Fabrics that have been infused with zinc offer anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-odor benefits. Zinc is also incredibly healing to the skin. RemedyWear was originally designed by YoRo Naturals for eczema and psoriasis sufferers. They’ve created zinc embedded masks that have been third party tested.
This goes back to the breeding ground for breakouts that sets up shop under your mask. The addition of makeup increases the amount of bacteria and oil that can get trapped allowing maskne to flourish.
The last few months have increased stress for everyone. And as many women know, stress can trigger breakouts. I actually have an entire module on it in my acne-program, The Clear Skin Solution. Using stress-reducing practices like meditation, tapping, and breathwork can be helpful for bringing your body and mind out of a stressed state.
To further the acne-triggering impacts of stress, it also increases emotional eating. When we’re stressed, we tend to binge on processed and sugary foods high in refined carbohydrates. These inflammatory foods are one of the big culprits of chronic acne. Instead of reaching for junk food, try snacking on healthier alternatives.
Here are a few treats for you to try out:
If you’re dealing with maskne, skip the harsher and more abrasive products. You’ll also want to skip on the retinol and acids. These ingredients can be irritating to the skin and are a bad combination with the friction from masks.
On that note: don’t overwash your skin — twice a day is best. Any more and you risk the chance of drying out your skin which causes your oil glands to overproduce sebum (hello, more breakouts). However, if you’ve been wearing your mask all day and humidity is building up, use a gentle makeup wipe to remove the sweaty bacteria.
Use a light moisturizer during the day that contains a zinc oxide based SPF for the added skin healing properties. In the evening, protect and replenish the skin’s barrier with a rich moisturizer. Try adding a drop of naturally antibacterial tea tree essential oil to your face cream as well. Stick to spot treatments with salicylic acid to help speed up healing.
Products I recommend to my acne clients: