How to deal with maskne when protective masks cause your skin to break out

Don't let maskne stop you from keeping it stylish. (Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images)
Don't let maskne stop you from keeping it stylish. (Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images)
  • Redness, irritation and acne caused by wearing masks for prolonged periods of time has now been dubbed 'mask-ne'. 
  • While it's advised that your mask has a snug fit, unfortunately, the tighter the mask, the more frictional pressure and irritation is placed on your skin. 
  • Skin professionals have advice on how to prevent and treat 'mask-ne'.

Across the globe, wearing a face mask in public has become mandatory. "No mask, No entry" signs are the new "No Smoking" signs as patrons return to places of dining like wildlife coming out of hibernation.

Besides the fact that those of us who wear glasses have to deal with fog with no windscreen wipers when we're wearing masks, there is another side effect to prolonged mask-wearing.... skin irritation and acne dubbed ‘maskne'.

READ MORE: Don't let body acne stop you from showing a little more skin as it gets warmer outside

“Breathing under the mask creates a moist, hot environment for your skin. This can lead to a build-up of sweat and oil on the skin around your chin, nose and cheeks, which can lead to "maskne", says Heidi Cerfontyne, Education and Curriculum Manager at Nimue Skin Technology.  

While doing all you can to keep yourself and others safe from contracting the coronavirus, there are ways to keep your skin protected too.  

It’s all in the mask

When using a reusable mask, it is recommended that you wash it after each use. Not only is this good hygiene but it prevents the build-up of oils and dirt from spreading onto your skin. Ensure your re-usable mask is made of breathable fabric, is correctly fitted and used according to the guidelines provided by our local health authorities.

READ MORE: Wash. Rinse. Repeat: How – and why – you should clean your mask after each use, according to experts 

Keep skin clean

When returning home, immediately cleanse your skin with a gentle and calming cleanser to ensure you keep it clear and calm. Try Skin Affair’s organic foaming cleanser (currently R279.30), which contains hydrating and anti-redness properties to efficiently cleanse dirt, debris and environmental pollutants from the skin. 

how to treat maskne

In the evening, apply Skin Affair’s organic cooling mask (currently R279.30) to gently exfoliate, boost hydration and reduce skin redness. 

how to treat maskne

Cleanse and Moisturise 

Ensure your face is cleansed prior to wearing a mask and keep your skin hydrated. The constant rubbing and friction from everyday mask use can compromise the skin’s barrier, resulting in dryness and bruising.

At the end of the day, cleanse and moisturise again to remove any impurities and rehydrate your skin. Serums work wonders too as they can be layered under your moisturiser for an added boost of hydration. 

Give your makeup some time off  

... if you can.

Another precaution you can take to prevent breakouts when wearing a face mask is giving your face a break from wearing makeup, every now and then – giving the natural look a try, especially when you are staying home.

Makeup can cause further blocking of oil glands and pores, potentially making breakouts worse. If you feel too ‘naked’ without any makeup, opt for some eye shadow, eyeliner and some mascara to accentuate your eyes.  

If you absolutely must apply makeup before leaving home like I had to for an off-site work commitment this week, then try using a light tinted moisturiser such as the Nimue Tinted SPF (R619). 

how to treat maskne

I used my Nuxe Sun Melting Cream SPF50, R505.10 from Care to Beauty 

how to treat maskne

READ MORE: These are the most common mistakes people are still making when wearing protective masks

Look for 100% cotton face masks

If you're making your own mask, try using 100% cotton fabric because the more synthetic a material is, the more heat retention occurs on the skin that is covered by the mask. This will likely lead to irritation. 

Additional information provided by Nimue Skin Technology and Deluxe Shop

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