Don’t Let Your Face Mask Ruin Your Skin: 6 Tips to Avoiding Maskne

Advanced Dermatology, PC Blog Don’t Let Your Face Mask Ruin Your Skin: 6 Tips to Avoiding Maskne

Wearing a mask or personal protective equipment (PPE) is challenging enough; some are finding that the side effect of keeping it on all day can contribute to the condition known as “maskne” or mask acne.

The combination of moisture buildup under your mask may cause bacteria to grow and spread across your face. But this doesn’t mean you should abandon your mask, as the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that we all continue to wear facemasks to protect ourselves from the threat of Coronavirus. Sharon Hochhauser, a board-certified family nurse practitioner who specializes in dermatology with Advanced Dermatology PC, says “we can take steps to prevent mask-related breakouts so that we feel comfortable wearing our masks and confident about taking them off when it’s safe.

  1. A supportive daily skincare routine. “Preventing ‘maskne,'” says Hochhauser, “starts with a supportive skincare routine. We may be tempted to wash our face more, but overwashing can irritate our skin and strip away protective sebum – signaling our body to increase production, which can clog pores. In general, we should wash with a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser twice a day, avoiding scrubbing and hot water. Using a cleanser with salicylic acid, one of the times we cleanse, can help keep pores unclogged. After washing, we’ll want to pat dry and immediately moisturize – oil-free gel is a good choice unless we have dry skin. Products that include ceramides or hyaluronic acid can also aid in protection. This step locks in moisture and creates a supportive barrier between our skin and our face mask. To further prevent clogged pores, you can use a gentle chemical exfoliant twice a week.”
  2. Make sure your mask fits correctly. “A secure, comfortable face-mask,” explains Hochhauser, “reduces rubbing. This is important to avoid irritation that can inflame our skin, contributing to acne. Also, a good fit will prevent us from adjusting our mask, which can result in the cross-transfer of germs, oil, and debris.”
  3. Make sure your mask material isn’t causing a problem. “The inner layer of our mask should be soft ‘hydrophilic’ material that absorbs moisture,” explains Hochhauser, “like cotton. This helps reduce moisture so that it doesn’t get trapped and contribute to clogged pores. We want to stay away from synthetic linings, which can irritate our skin.”
  4. Wash your masks after each use. “You need to remove the oil and debris that build up on the lining. This minimizes the chance of clogged pores,” explains Hochhauser.
  5.  Check your make-up. “All of the ingredients we apply to our face should be non-irritating,” says Hochhauser, “Thanks to the ‘athleisure’ trend, there are products designed with that in mind, for example, mineral-based sunscreen-and-foundation combos designed to protect without clogging or irritating. Remember to carefully check that products are non-comedogenic and oil-free.”
  6. Be mindful of what you eat. That means taking time to relax and being cognizant about overdoing ‘comfort food,'” advises Hochhauser. “The hormones triggered by stress can kick those sebaceous glands into overdrive. Eating high-glycemic foods, like sweets, white rice, pasta, potatoes, and bread can also activate those hormones.”

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