2020: We slept in one world and woke up in another. A world where COVID-19, lock-downs, circuit breakers, curfews and of course, wearing of face masks when we go out for a walk, buy groceries or run important errands is the new normal. Inevitably, many of us find ourselves dealing with a host of skin issues. Common ones include itchiness, redness, inflammation, rashes and acne breakouts.
Who’s more pre-disposed to getting Maskne? Those of us with oily and acne prone skin or irritable, intolerant skin.
Why does Maskne occur?
When worn correctly, effective protection with a surgical face mask creates a naturally moist, hot environment over the covered skin as your breathing is being trapped. Over the span of a few hours, this occlusion leads to a build up of sweat and oil on the skin under the mask, creating that perfect petri dish for acne bacteria to grow and thrive.
This condition is known as Acne Mechanica – which is skin irritation formed by excess pressure, heat & constant rubbing against the skin. Though commonly seen in athletes who perspire a lot or those wearing chin straps, we now see a rise in acne in the lower half of the face; which corresponds to where the face mask is worn over the skin.
Skin woes don’t just manifest in the form of pimples; another common problem comes, shows up in red (or clear) bumps which may be followed by itchiness; something we term as Contact dermatitis or allergic dermatitis.
Either way, the annoyance is real.
10 Tips on How To Prevent and Manage Maskne
- Cleanse and moisturise your face before and after wearing a face mask.
- If your skin is reactive or gets sensitive easily, bring an extra clean mask – change this mid day. If you have a facial, good practice to use a clean mask after! Change your mask daily at least. Wear a cloth / silk mask instead of the disposable ones if your skin is reactive and acne prone.
- Incorporate products with these ingredients: Retinols, AHA, Salicylic acid. These accelerate cellular turnover, reduce clogged pores, congested skin, eliminate blackheads & whiteheads. For those with oily skin, start the routine right with proper cleansing. My pick would be SkinBetter’s Oxygen Infusion Wash – contains Salicylic acid which loosens up a clog, is incredibly light weight, removes excess oil, dead cells, is non-drying and leaves a beautiful radiance on skin. Add in exfoliants like AHA and Retinols. The AlphaRet Overnight Cream from SBS works gently but potently to exfoliate skin and prevent congestion.
- Moisturise – a cardinal rule and often missed out in skin routines. The logic is simple – our body is made up of 60-70% water and our skin caters for 60-70% of that water content. Which shows the simple fact that water is crucial to good skin health. The more we deprive skin of its needed hydration, it is going to over-compensate by producing more sebum on the surface. So what you end up with is an oily surface but a parched dermis – a vicious cycle that needs to be broken to restore skin balance. Apply a lightweight moisturizer comfortable for the day – my pick: The ultra light yet hydrating Hydration Boosting Cream from SBS.
- Masking – one of the best things I’ve found in maintaining good skin is sensible daily masking. Choose your masques wisely and understand what they do. Make the masking sessions count by treating your skin according to what it needs. Wash off within the stipulated time frame. Spot mask appropriately – so if you break out in the lower half of the face, use a purifying, balancing mask to treat the area and another hydrating mask to treat the rest of the face. While using the hydrating mask on the whole face is not going to harm the skin, neither is it going to do anything to draw out the acne.
- Invest in a good, solid anti-blemish routine – wearing face mask is a new normal so you want to decisively treat skin woes as they arise. Add to that hormonal acne that inflicts many of us, having a stable anti-blemish routine that you can whip out every month will go a long way.
- Go light on make up – if you’re still using makeup, shift your application to only what's above eye level, as any potentially irritating or pore-clogging ingredients especially heavy foundation and concealer should be avoided under the mask-covered skin.
- Get a good deep cleansing facial regularly or a medical grade LED light therapy – the ones I love are the Hydrafacial which deeply cleans without stripping skin of its needed hydration. If sensitive skin is in the mix, then we add on a soothing & healing oxygen infusion. LED light therapy can also be super helpful – we use a mixture of blue light for anti-bacterial and yellow for healing & reducing redness.
- Don’t take matters into your own hands – mechanical picking on your skin can do more harm than good. Unless your pustule forms into that pointed white head where a little nudge will remove the entire pus, no one should be picking at their pimples. It gives that instant gratification but also leaves you to deal with a scar in the weeks and months ahead. It can also lead to infection, redness, boils, inflammation – signs that you should quickly see your doctor to get onto a course of oral medication or injection to reduce inflammation.
- Spot treat your pimples – be decisive and strategic of what you use to spot treat the developing pimple. Aim to draw it out to maturity rather than curtailing its development, which means it will surface in the next month.
3 GOLDEN RULES
KEEP IT CLEAN. SPOT TREAT. MOISTURISE.