Masks are crucial for reducing the spread of COVID-19. By restricting entry of outside bacteria into the body, masks protect you from contracting the virus and those infected with Covid-19 from spreading it. However, despite their obvious immune system health benefits, masks, surprisingly, pose a threat to the skin. To elaborate, face masks restrict bacteria from escaping your mouth and nose, often resulting in irritated skin and inflammation. This condition is commonly known as ‘maskne.’ To learn more about maskne, its causes, and how to prevent it, keep reading.
What is Maskne?
Maskne, as stated by Healthline, is acne caused by wearing a face mask. However, in spite of its name, maskne can also include irritation and inflammation caused by face masks.
Moreover, despite it being a relatively old and common occurrence among professionals required to wear a face mask (i.e healthcare professionals), for the average individual, maskne has only recently emerged and claimed its place as skincare enemy #1.
What causes maskne?
So what exactly causes maskne? Shockingly enough, our mouths are havens for all types of bacteria. In fact, as stated by Heathline, over 6 billion types of bacteria reside in your mouth — that is around the same number of people living in the world. Sort of gross, right?
So, while wearing a mask, you are actually trapping all the bacteria from your mouth into your pores. Moreover, the hot and humid air produced from your breath creates the perfect habitat for bacteria to grow. In addition, the rubbing of the mask with moist skin causes the skin barrier to breakdown.
Given that maskne’s direct cause is masks, it’s not your typical acne — it’s acne mechanica. Acne mechanica occurs due to friction and pressure on the skin, which, in this case, is caused by face masks.
How to prevent maskne?
Now, that we have gone over what causes maskne, we can now find ways to prevent it. Here are a few maskne tips:
Wear a clean mask
Although it seems simple and intuitive, due to environmental concerns with non-reusable masks and the hassle with reusable ones, we often don’t change our masks on a daily basis. On a similar note, although cloth masks may be more breathable, not all of them offer the same amount of protection. Thus, it’s important to purchase a cloth mask with several layers. Also, make sure to wash your masks as frequently as possible.
Although you may not see a difference in your skin on a day-to-day basis, your pores, if continuously in contact with a dirty mask, will congest. Over time, this congestion will result in inflammation, clogged pores, and maskne.
Use skin barrier repairing products
Due to the mask’s constant rubbing and breakdown of the skin barrier, it is imperative to incorporate skin barrier repairing products into your skincare routine. Some ingredients known for their beneficial skin repairing properties are:
- Hyaluronic acid
- Colloidal oatmeal
One product that I highly recommend you to try is Wish Formula’s Life Energy Ampoule. With the skin repairing ingredient niacinamide and unique ingredients like snail mucus filtrate, goji berry extract, and more, this ampoule is full of skin rejuvenating properties. Additionally, niacinamide is an ingredient compatible with even the most sensitive skin types.
After cleansing and toning your skin, gently massage a couple drops of the Life Energy Ampoule into your skin. For a skin care tip, try to massage the ampoule in upward sweeping motions to give your skin that lifted botox look. Make sure to follow-up with a cream to lock in the moisturizer and a layer of sunscreen if you are applying the ampoule during the day!
How to get rid of maskne?
To treat maskne, first make sure that you avoid any further irritation of the skin! The next steps are rather simple as caring for maskne treatment is just like any other acne treatment.
After using a gentle cleanser with circular motions, apply a moisturizer with skin-repairing ingredients, and finally an acne spot treatment. For acne spot treatments, a common product for acne mechanica specifically is benzoyl peroxide as it removes dead skin and keeps bacteria in check. However, given that benzoyl peroxide has varying strengths, typically ranging from 2.5%, 5%, and 10%, I recommend starting out with 2.5% to minimize any sudden aggravation of the skin.
Despite the unfortunate skincare complications caused by masks, it’s important to continue making a conscious effort to flatten the curve. The last year has been a year of destruction but also a year of inspiration. Through the emergence of mass calls for social justice and times of self-reflection, I truly believe that COVID-19 has given us a new perspective on life and shown us where our passions and desires lie.
To end, I understand the urges of wanting to escape the dungeons of lockdown. But remember the sooner we all follow the COVID-19 safety precautions, the sooner we’ll be given the key to freedom.
Remember the COVID-19 safety tips:
- Do your part, stay 6 feet apart!
- 20 second wash for staying posh!
- Can’t mask, don’t ask!
To learn more about K-beauty and the latest skincare products, make sure to read our last post.