As the one year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown approaches, one thing that has found its way into our everyday life is the masks. And while the pros of wearing a mask are hopefully obvious, wearing masks constantly for extended periods of time, your skin becomes irritated and broken out. There is, however, one major con that stands out – mask-induced breakouts and minor skin irritations due to prolonged wear. Maskne (mask acne) is a real problem that’s affecting everyone as a mask rubs against your face, causing friction and pressure. And, if you’re working out in a mask, you’re putting your skin under more stress and irritation.
TC46 brings you 10 must-know knowledge nuggets about the phenomenon called maskne, how to deal with it effectively and keep your skin happy and healthy.
Did You Know?
The medical term for ‘maskne’ is acne mechanica, a skin condition brought on by prolonged wear of facial personal protective equipment.
1. Prevention lies in the choice of the fabric
Being mindful of your mask’s material should be at the top of your list when looking to prevent maskne. You’ll also want to stay on top of washing your mask consistently and limiting how much makeup you wear when you also wear a mask. Choose soft, gentle fabrics like cotton feels great against your skin and help you avoid irritated skin.
2. Hot summer days will make it worse
Indian summers are known for being hot, humid, harsh and unbearable. The enclosed area of the mask against our skin, unfortunately, produces a microenvironment of warm moisture. This super-hydrates the stratum corneum (the outer layer of the skin) and dilates the pores and sweat glands. This increased oil and sweat production clogs your pores, resulting in maskne. Opt for cotton masks, carry an extra one if you live in a humid climate and keep your outside visits limited during the day.
3. Washing your masks as frequently as possible will help
Washing your masks is the most vital tip when it comes to preventing maskne. It’s easy to forget to keep up with cleaning our masks, but it makes all of the difference when attempting to keep your skin clear. Wash fabric masks frequently with hot water, and dry them completely. The hot water eliminates acne-causing bacteria and other bacteria you don’t want hanging around. You should really wash your mask after every use. This might seem like a lot to keep up with, but it lessens the chance for maskne.
4. It’s best to skip the heavy makeup when you wear your mask
After months of staying home in our cosiest sweatpants, it’s natural to crave getting ready and putting on makeup. Experts recommend that you wear as much eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara as you want, but avoid wearing foundations, powders, and blushes under the mask. Wearing a foundation under your mask clogs your pores and can contribute to breakouts, including those stubborn (and also, painful) acne bumps that form deep beneath the skin’s surface.
5. Prep your skin before and after wearing a mask
Having a consistent skincare routine, complete with cleansing and moisturizing, effectively helps treat maskne. The best way to prevent and treat maskne is by washing your face morning and night to remove dirt, oil, and bacteria. Cleansing before you wear a mask removes any acne-causing bacteria that could get trapped in your skin once the mask is on. Cleansing after you wear the mask also removes any bacteria that will inflame your pores.
6. Choose cleansing products based on your skin type
Most cleansers not only treats existing breakouts but prevents new ones from popping up. For those with oily skin that’s not sensitive, use a cleanser with salicylic acid. This helps prevent the formation of whiteheads and blackheads. Experts recommend using a cleanser that’s specifically formulated for oily and acne-prone skin. Those with dry and sensitive skin can select a cleanser that is gentle and non-irritating that eliminates dirt and bacteria that cause skin congestion. For people with all other skin types, look for cleansers containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to prevent acne and to control mild flares.
7. Use a spot treatment
Spot treatments are also helpful when treating maskne that’s already in existence. Using an acne treatment at bedtime is helpful, mainly because a mask won’t cover the product. Use desi nuskhe like a combination of neem paste and rosewater and apply it to the acne-prone area. You can try a DIY spot treatment with haldi and dahi. Another option may be a low concentration of a benzoyl peroxide cream applied over the acne and then washed off in the morning.
8. Avoid trying new skincare products that can irritate your skin
Combine a mask with trying new skincare products and you get maskne. Since you will have to wear the mask for a while and taking it off forever isn’t an option right now, refrain from experimenting with skincare products. Stick to what works for you and keep your skin happy with what it already loves. To reduce skin problems, avoid trying harsh products, such as a chemical peel, exfoliant, or retinoid, for the first time.
Avoid new products and stick to the basics. Fight acne with this quick haldi and dahi mask. Combine both the ingredients in a bowl and apply the smooth paste on your face. Wash in 15 mins. Watch this video to learn to make this pack.
9. Exfoliate and moisturize regularly
Use a gentle exfoliant to help clear away the smaller particles that hang out on your face and clog your pores. A once a week exfoliation and hydration treatment is all you need to help clear your mask acne. Opt for desi nuskhe like coffee powder and coconut oil, oatmeal and honey or orange peel, rosewater and milk. If you have dry skin, go for a super hydrating moisturiser and stick to it. For oil skin, it’s best to go for moisturizers that are lightweight yet nourishing.
10. Always stay hydrated
Your skin might be feeling more blemish-prone than normal, but don’t be tempted to strip your skin of moisture, as this can irritate your complexion and trigger even more oil production. Recharge, rehydrate and relax with a mask, it’s a pampering treat your skin deserves! A desi DIY mask that leaves your skin soft, healthy and boosted with moisture, without that greasy feeling will do wonders. Go for an aloe vera and cucumber mask or a fruity one with watermelon, coconut oil and dahi.
Maskne is a small price to pay in order to stay safe during this ongoing pandemic. While we all know the importance of wearing a mask and are more than happy to wear one, it’s vital to keep your skin healthy to prevent infections. So choose the right mask, wear it correctly and indulge in some pampering for your skin and get rid of maskne!