This year has turned the concept of “normal” on its head. As we continue to practice social distancing, face masks have become the norm as countries around the world implement regulations to slow the spread of Co-Vid 19. The World Health Organization has officially recommended face coverings to assist in slowing the spread of the virus.
The more use our masks get, especially in a hot and humid climate, the more it will become a conductor of dirt, oil and debris, all of which can irritate the skin. Maskne, or acne mechanica, arises when the skin is subject to friction or rubbing, causing micro-tears in the skin allowing bacteria to enter. In some cases, contact dermatitis, an uncomfortable itchy rash on the skin, may also develop. Many people are wearing masks even when exercising, further trapping excess oil, dirt, and sweat, leading to breakouts around the chin, jaw, cheeks, and mouth area. Facial pores are under more stress and are more likely to be clogged, especially if we do not adapt our skincare routine.
As mask-wearing becomes the norm across the world, many clothing retailers have shifted gears to mass-produce fabric masks which can be worn and washed easily. Masks made from natural fibres (such as cotton, linen, hemp or silk) are more breathable and will reduce friction on your skin. (1) Wearing masks may become commonplace for the foreseeable future, so it can’t hurt to invest in a higher quality one now to reduce waste and help your skin.
As we adjust to the new regulations and the implications on our social and professional lives, we can also help our skin assimilate to what will be the new normal. Now more than ever it is crucial to keep our faces as clean as possible; it’s better to avoid heavy creams and serums during the day or when we will be wearing the mask. By using a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser and a toner skin will be clean and not feel weighed-down.
After cleansing and toning, incorporating an acne-fighting skin booster may also help. Products such as The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% are ideal to incorporate into a skincare regime, as it is a high-strength vitamin and mineral blemish formula. Niacinamide is Vitamin B3, which has been shown to minimize the appearance of pores and brighten skin tone. If you are using a Vitamin C serum be sure to use it at a different time than the Niacinamide (preferably at night).
Incorporating a hyaluronic serum to assist in absorption of your moisturizer is also a good idea – The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 is a great product; it contains a mix of HA and vitamins for added hydration. Make sure to apply before your moisturizer. You can follow up with a Hemi-Squalane Serum, as it is an excellent non-comedogenic hydrator which will help reduce loss of skin elasticity. It is lightweight and easily absorbed without being greasy (it can also be used in your hair to reduce frizz).
To discourage pore congestion, now may be the time to introduce acids into your beauty regime. The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% 10 Minute Exfoliating Facial (you may have seen it after it went viral on TikTok) is a great exfoliator. Check the warnings before using, as it uses a high concentration of free acids which may harm sensitive skin and inexperienced users. Using this one per week will help clear away any congestion and build-up that accumulates under your mask.
If you plan on wearing make-up under your mask, try using a setting spray to avoid transference to the mask. I personally love using KIKO Milano’s Make Up Fixer and Prime & Fix. It contains cosmetic alcohol and chamomile extract that evaporates instantly and doesn’t leave behind any residue.
Skipping foundation and substituting for a tinted sunscreen will also help eliminate product build-up. I love SunSense’s 50SPF Daily Face tinted sunscreen as it’s lightweight and doesn’t feel caked on. Using a sunscreen is also a good idea as mask tan-lines may become our new summer reality.
The good news is that with a few minor skincare tweaks, “maskne” will be a thing of the past. It is important that we all do our part to slow the spread of CoVid, and that involves wearing face coverings in all public spaces. While masks do help keep us protected, if they are not disposed of or laundered after use, they can become breeding grounds for germs, dirt and irritations – all of which will negatively impact our health and our skin.
- Bauer, Shannon. “Maskne Is a Very Real Thing—Here’s How to Beat Face Mask Breakouts.” Shape, 15 June 2020. https://www.shape.com/lifestyle/beauty-style/maskne-face-mask-acne-mechanica
- Product info pulled from theordinary.deciem.com. All opinions are my own.