Tips for Preventing and Treating 'Maskne'

In 2020, we've had to add a lot of new words to our vocabulary: social distancing, self-isolation, quarantine bubble. There’s even one to describe the breakouts that often occur around the mouth and chin as a result of mask-wearing: maskne. Maskne is caused by two main issues: bacterial growth encouraged by the hot air and moisture trapped behind your mask, and friction. Below, we’ve gathered our top tips for achieving healthy skin whilst still helping curb the spread of COVID-19.

Choose the right mask
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a mask with a snug but comfortable fit. This fit will best protect you and others against coronavirus as well as reduce skin issues as a mask that’s too tight or too loose can move around your face and cause irritation, or prompt you to readjust and risk transferring germs from your hands to your face. It’s also wise to look for a mask that has at least two layers of fabric, with the inside layer being a soft, natural, and breathable fabric like cotton, as this material is less likely to irritate your skin than synthetic fabrics. 

Wash your mask
Applying a mask that’s accumulated oil, sweat, and dirt to your face is a fast-track to breakouts, which is one reason the CDC recommends washing your masks regularly. You can choose to machine wash your masks with your normal laundry load and detergent, or hand wash them with tap water and either laundry detergent or soap. To dry, pop them in a warm or hot dryer, or allow to air dry - hanging in direct sunlight is best!

Adapt your skincare routine
Consider building a skincare routine with a small number of products containing few ingredients as your mask will intensify product delivery – a fact that’s especially important to keep in mind if you use a retinol product. Stick to the essentials, like the Ocean Cleanser from Osea. Moisturizer is another must as it protects your skin against the friction that causes ‘acne mechanica.’ To further prevent breakouts, make sure to choose the right product for your skin type. Those with oily skin should reach for a gel moisturizer, while mask-wearers who fall into the normal or combination categories will want a lotion like the Peet Rivko Daily Moisturizer. If you have dry skin, pick a cream moisturizer such as the Osea Advanced Protection Cream or the Moon Juice Comic Cream Collagen Protecting Face Moisturizer.

Treat breakouts
Already experiencing maskne? The good news is there are plenty of products ready to come to the rescue. A cleanser containing salicylic acid will help unplug pores, while spots can be treated with a benzoyl peroxide cream with a 2.5 to 5 percent concentration.

Think holistically
Remember, breakouts around the mouth and chin may not be caused by mask wearing.

If you already experience acne, factors such as stress can exacerbate this, and navigating a pandemic environment for almost a year can certainly be classified as stressful! Meditation, mindfulness, exercise and achieving quality sleep are just some of the ways you can learn to manage stress, and improve the health of your skin.