MASKNE: The New Acne

No thanks to Covid-19, a face mask is now an essential item which we cannot leave our house without. It is supposed to protect and prevent us from the deadly virus, but there is one thing a  mask is incapable of protecting us from—acne or ‘Maskne’ as the internet has been calling it. 

Unlike the typical acne that we are familiar with, Maskne (also known as “acne mechanica”) is the forming of acne around our mouth, cheeks, chin and nose area, typically due to friction between the skin and the fabric. This basically translates to acne formed under the mask, hence the name—maskne.

Here are five tips to help prevent maskne:

1. Heavy makeup, maybe no?

Wearing heavy makeup under your mask is a recipe for disaster as they trap bacteria and clog your pores. You can either put on a minimal look or only apply makeup to the uncovered areas like your eyes! Try not to cover your maskne with concealer or foundation as it does more harm than good. If you must, opt for mineral makeup that is non-comedogenic.

2. Change your mask daily

Not only can this habit prevent you from catching the virus, but it also helps you avoid other unwanted bacteria. Breathing in a confined space with a mask on invites sweat that could serve as a breeding ground for bacteria and lead to potential breakouts. Reusing surgical masks is a big no-no and if you are wearing fabric masks, be sure to wash it daily.

3. Use specialised skincare 

Unlike your regular acne, maskne requires a more careful approach. Since your skin is more sensitised now, fragrance-free and lightweight products are the way to go. In fact, you can save your 10-step skincare routine and switch to a much simpler routine of cleansing, exfoliating, hydrating, and applying sunscreen. Less is more. If you are not already using a chemical exfoliant, now is the time to do so. It can effectively unclog your pores and remove dead cells to promote healthier-looking skin.

4. Give your skin a breather

In a public setting, it is crucial for you to keep your mask on. However, you can do your skin a huge favour by letting it breathe when you’re somewhere less crowded. According to Dr. Harold Lancer, dermatologist and founder of Lancer Skincare, heat plays a factor in causing moisture change to the mask-covered skin. This leads to problems in pore structure and congestion, blemishes and excessive oil retention. In other words, it is the dawn of maskne. Another tip is to remove your mask completely while you let your skin breathe. Pulling your mask down to your neck will only catch more unwanted germs and bacteria, which is something you want to avoid.

5. Find a mask suitable for you

When shopping for a mask, look for one that can cover from the bridge of your nose down to your under-chin. The size of the mask must be fitting enough that you can still talk in it but also keep a secure hold to your face. If you have sensitive skin, look for masks with softer and more breathable fabrics such as cotton layers and washable silk to avoid maskne. 

If you are dealing with active maskne, here are two simple solutions that may help you:

1. Treat it with care

As mentioned earlier, less is really more. Try not to overdo your skincare routine with facial scrubs or astringents as it can mess with your skin’s protective barrier. What you can do, instead, is to ensure your skin is well cleansed and moisturised, and apply acne cream on troubled areas. According to Dr. Mona Gohara associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, benzoyl peroxide starting with a 2.5% to 5% concentration may be able to help treat the affected spots.

2. Don’t stress

It is understandable that your self-esteem may be crushed during this period. However, stress is often associated with acne. When you are feeling stressed, your body naturally produces more of a hormone called androgen. This will stimulate the oil glands in your skin, causing the over-production of oils and subsequently, clogging your pores. So, don’t let it get to you and remember that you are not alone in this.