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It seems like the coronavirus has changed everything, and that even applies to the way we approach our beauty and grooming routines. But it goes beyond not being able to get a haircut, facial or pedicure. The latest side effect is maskne, the cute term for the not-so-cute acne caused from wearing a face mask. Maskne is caused by the friction of fabric against the skin, which can trigger inflammation and irritation, leading to breakouts. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to heal your skin.
What causes maskne
If you’ve noticed that your maskne has worsened over the summer, it’s not a coincidence — when moisture from humidity and sweat gets trapped in the mask, it can make the effects even worse. Masks essentially create a seal over the face, keeping everything inside. And it doesn’t discriminate, as it will happen no matter what type of mask you’re wearing, whether that’s cotton, N95 or surgical paper.
Maskne could be caused by a number of types of reactions. For example, the type of fabric your mask is made from could be triggering a reaction, so stick to breathable fabrics like cotton, which are less likely to exacerbate the issue. Since the masks sit right on top of our skin, another possibility is a sensitivity to laundry detergent or softeners, which can cause irritation or dermatitis. For those with skin on the sensitive side, it’s best to wash your masks in a fragrance-free detergent to prevent a reaction.
How to prevent maskne
Another maskne culprit could be not washing your mask or bandana frequently enough. If you wear the same one over and over again without washing it, it’s similar to rewearing gym clothes, which will trigger breakouts. It’s not just masks that need regular washing — your face does, too. Always wash your hands and face before putting on your mask for the day and then wash them again once you’re home and can safely take it off. Those who are already acne-prone should look for a cleanser with salicylic acid to unclog pores and prevent breakouts.
Skipping makeup is a good idea, since it’s just another thing that will mingle with the sweat and oils trapped under the mask, increasing the likelihood of breakouts. Plus, heavy makeup can actually affect the seal of the mask, making it less secure. Play it safe and work a statement eye or bold brow instead of blush, lipstick or foundation.
Adjusting your skin care to treat maskne
Step up your skin-care regiment to fight maskne. If your skin is raw around the mask area, create a protective physical barrier with a cream designed to do just that, such as Avéne Cicalfate+ Restorative Protective Cream, which treats and prevents irritation. It’s a good idea to always use a moisturizer to keep skin moisturized, since that instantly soothes it and makes irritation less likely. Look for a simple, non-comedogenic formulas designed for sensitive skin that won’t clog pores.
These are the best skin-care products to treat and prevent maskne:
1. Murad Clarifying Oil-Free Water Gel
Skin-care products that boost the microbiome have been all the rage lately and now they’re more important than ever. When bacteria builds up on the skin, it disrupts the microbiome’s balance, leading to irritation and breakouts. The skin under masks can be prime breeding ground for bacteria, so Murad’s new Clarifying Oil-Free Water Gel stops it in its tracks with its innovative technology that prevents bacteria from gathering and forming an imbalance. The ingredients include sustained release hyaluronic acid for long-lasting moisture, ginger root extract to soothe skin, salicylic acid to exfoliate and fight acne, and Korean Red Pine extract to prevent irritation.
2. Avéne Cicalfate+ Restorative Protective Cream
A newly updated favorite, this multitasker has a whopping 45 uses and can treat irritation, dry patches, rashes, scratches, sunburn, cuts and eczema, to name a few. Its active ingredient, a postbiotic C+ Restore complex, helps skin heal four times faster with improvement in two days by creating an optimal healing environment, making it one of the best skin-care products to treat maskne and irritation caused by face masks.
3. Pause Detox Serum
Its name sums it up: This serum works to detox skin by unclogging pores and clarifying, reducing breakouts along the way. The clear, lightweight formula absorbs quickly and also zaps excess oil, soothes inflammation, evens tone, lifts, brightens and hydrates, all while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. A blend of vitamins, antioxidants and peptides do the heavy lifting.
4. PCA Skin Acne Gel
This acne gel can be used as a spot treatment or it can be slathered all over the lower half of your face to fight maskne. It delivers fast results, clearing up current breakouts and preventing future ones with a combination of salicylic and azelaic acids and natural botanicals. It also helps keep skin’s oil production under control.
5. Dermalogica Retinol Clearing Oil
Talk about beauty sleep — this clarifying oil works overnight while you snooze to calm stressed skin and treat and prevent breakouts. Retinol does double duty to fight acne and the signs of aging, including hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles. The time-released retinol works in partnership with salicylic acid to show results in seven days. The formula also includes argan, rosehip seed and golden jojoba oils to minimize irritation and leave skin glowing.
6. Perricone MD Gentle & Soothing Cleanser
Gentle formulas are best for battling maskne because they get the job done without irritating your skin, just like the Perricone MD Gentle & Soothing Cleanser. The non-foaming cleanser can be used morning and evening to thoroughly wash away dead skin cells and debris, reduce excess oil, unclog pores and kill bacteria that triggers breakouts. It contains squalane to hydrate and sucrose to boost the skin microbiome.
7. Pai Skincare Perfect Balance Blemish Serum
Calming skin is key to keeping maskne under control and this balancing serum is a pro at that. Designed for acne-prone complexions, it reduces sebum production by up to 65 percent, plus the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory formula improves the appearance of breakouts by up to 72 percent. It works to maintain a healthy moisture barrier so that skin naturally stays hydrated.
8. First Aid Beauty FAB Pharma White Clay Acne Treatment Pads with 2% Salicylic Acid
Swipe these pads along the mask zone daily to treat breakouts and stop future ones. Formulated with 2 percent salicylic acid, they also have kaolin clay to draw out impurities, evermat to decrease sebum and shrink pores, tea tree oil to exfoliate and willow bark to smooth skin texture. Free of alcohol, they won’t strip or dry out skin.
9. Payot Clear Skin Serum
This French skin-care line recently landed Stateside, just in time to help you fight maskne with their lightweight clarifying serum. Designed for combination to oily skin, it relies on zinc extract to purify the complexion to ward off breakouts. It only takes a few weeks for skin to clear up and have a smoother texture. The dropper doses out just the right amount for every application, taking the guesswork out.
10. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo
In case you’re wondering what the duo in the title refers to, this spot treatment is the only one with micronized benzoyl peroxide (5.5 percent), a powerful acne medication that dives deeply into pores, and micro-exfoliating LHA that boasts exact exfoliation cell-by-cell to even skin texture over time. The oil-free, dual action won’t dry out skin and is recommended for blemishes, blackheads and whiteheads.