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Maskne is the term for acne that develops as a result of mask-wearing. It’s another by-product of this Covid era. Apologies, I strive not to mention the dreaded c-word in any of my articles, but it seems inevitable when writing a piece which focuses on a skin concern that is a direct consequence of the pandemic. 

Those with more sensitive skin types will find that simply wearing a mask can in itself cause irritation from the friction. Whilst those with oilier skin types may have already foreseen the perils of maskne coming.

But how does maskne develop, even on those who do not usually have acne-prone skin?

As a result of frequent (and of course necessary) mask-wearing, humidity from breathing becomes trapped beneath the mask. The oil and bacteria which already exists on our skin can build up more excessively and clog pores. Unsurprisingly frontline workers or healthcare professionals are more prone to developing this skin condition because their masks tend to be more tightly fitted and are of course worn for longer periods of time.

Dermatologists claim to have seen an increase in acne-related queries appearing in their inboxes, which serves to support the fact that this is a real issue. It is not just a skin concern which has been fabricated by big cosmetic brands in search of a new angle to market certain acne fighting products. 

It seems that masks are here to stay (at least for the foreseeable). However, this doesn’t have to be true of maskne too. There are thankfully some steps which you can take to keep it at bay.

Masks

The mask itself is a good starting point. Of course, it goes without saying that hygiene is key and keeping your masks clean is one of the most important preventative measures you can take. 

Secondly, you may want to lend some thought to the type of fabric your mask is made of. Avoid fabrics such as nylon which can be very irritating on the skin and instead invest in softer fabrics. Silk has long been celebrated as the fabric which is kindest to skin and many skincare enthusiasts (myself included) will not hesitate to bore you with the many benefits of sleeping on a silk pillowcase. Not only does silk cause less irritation but this material is less likely to absorb oil or dirt which means your mask is more likely to stay cleaner during the day. Silk masks do tend to be on the pricier side but can be worth the investment, especially for those with very sensitive skin. (Cult Beauty Silk Mask, £20).

But its important not to forget that choosing a mask which still offers a good level of protection is key!

Take a Makeup Break

It pains me to say this – after all, the last thing any of us wants to do at the moment is to take more breaks from doing things we enjoy. But taking a makeup break can really be of benefit here, as wearing makeup on mask covered skin can serve to further suffocate the surface of your skin. If you simply can’t forgo the makeup glow try avoiding heavy oil-based foundations and concealers and instead opt for more lightweight products such as tinted moisturises.

Stick to a Skincare Routine 

Your daily skincare routine is one of the most important steps to maskne avoidance as it enables you to really fortify your skin. Cleansing regularly is a must, however opt for a gentle cleanser as you do not want to use anything that will be too drying and will cause more irritation or chaffing under a mask. Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Cleanser is a great option which won’t strip or dry out the skin. (236ml, £6.50,)

Maskne is the term for acne that develops as a result of mask-wearing.

Also make sure to moisturise. This may sound like the complete opposite of what you want to do since we know that oiliness and clogged up pores can aid the development of acne, but striking a balance is important. Hydration will fortify your skin barrier and this is key, as dry and irritated skin can lead to more breakouts. If the thought of applying a heavy moisturiser under your mask fills you with dread then opt for a more lightweight alternative such as a gel cream. Origins Ginzing Gel Moisturiser is a great option (50ml, £25)

Add an Extra Acne Fighting Step Into Your Routine

Chemical exfoliants work by dissolving dead skin cells that sit on the skins surface and can therefore be helpful in minimising the risk of further breakouts. BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids) are especially good for unclogging pores and helping reduce the production of excess sebum. The BHA which is most widely used for the treatment of acne is salicylic acid. There are cleansers, toners and serums which contain this ingredient. Whichever form you opt for ensure that you start to use them gradually, until your skin builds up tolerance – perhaps by using it once or twice a week to begin with and as always if in doubt discuss this further with a dermatologist. One of the most popular BHA products in the skincare industry is Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% Lotion Exfoliant (100ml, £28) 

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