Face masks are necessary for the safety and well-being of the general population. They’re proven to drastically reduce the spread of COVID, and let’s face it – they’re quite a chic accessory (you can even buy styles with chains attached). But they cause a major annoyance that cannot be ignored: the face of the swamps.
You return from a socially distanced walk around the block and remove your mask to reveal a face of sweat, oil, and, although you can’t see it, bacteria. It’s a nasty combination that can make even the fairest skin break out in a sea of blackheads and pimples. Yeah, we’re talking masked.
Like pimples on your back or butt, certified dermatologist (and Instagram famous) Dr. Michelle Henry, MD FAAD says maskne is caused by all that funk that lives under your face mask. It is a very specific form of acne called mechanical acne, which is caused by dirty or sweaty clothes or surfaces rubbing against the skin.
“In medical terms, maskne is what we call mechanical acne. You irritate the skin, the pores get clogged, and then you get sebum and bacteria that proliferate under the skin,” explained Dr. Henry. “Wearing a mask can also trap dirt and oil in your pores, causing rashes or worsening pre-existing skin problems.”
You can’t just jump on a mask, because of a few rashes. But Dr Henry says you can prevent them from happening. Here are all of her top tips for treating and preventing acne caused by face masks.
Yes, the choice of mask matters
Different fabric blends affect your skin in different ways, which is why Dr. Henry recommends purchasing natural breathable fabrics. This will help reduce the humidity which promotes the growth of bacteria.
“Choosing a more breathable fabric, like 100% cotton fabric, will help avoid the mask. Cotton is gentle on the skin and, since it is breathable, it will create a less humid environment (rashes thrive in moisture) “, she says. “Also consider disposable paper masks or silk masks which cause less friction.”
Doctors recommend changing your mask every time you wear it, to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19, but a clean mask is also necessary to prevent maskne, says Dr. Henry.
“If possible, it would be ideal to wash your face mask after each use, with a mild, fragrance-free laundry detergent. If you buy a pack of 3 or 6 masks, it should be easy to rotate them after each use in the laundry basket, ”she advises.
Skip your glamorous routine
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I haven’t put on makeup since last March. If you’re still here rocking a full face, it could be the cause of your rashes. Dr Henry says mixing a full foundation with a sweaty mask is “a recipe for disaster.”
“Absolutely avoid putting on makeup under your mask. The oil in your makeup can contribute to pore clogging and painful acne breakouts,” she continued. The combination of the friction of the mask, the humid environment created by the mask, and heavy makeup or comedogenic products can cause acne, rashes and irritation. Consider a tinted moisturizer or sunscreen and avoid an oily foundation. ”
Do not stack the products
If you’re going for a 9-step skincare routine, you might want to cut it down, just for now. Eliminate oil-based products if you can – like heavy foundations, they sit under your face mask and clog your pores. Avoid heavy moisturizers during the day and opt for softer, lighter formulas instead.
Dr. Henry also advises against using products containing retinol or glycolic acid during the day. “If you use products like retinol or glycolic acid, which encourage skin renewal, try to use them only at night (not under your mask),” she says.
To help keep the oil at bay, you can also use cleansing wipes to keep you refreshed throughout the day.
“As teens tend to have oilier skin, they carry oil-free wipes, like the Neutrogena Oil-Free Cleansing Wipes. These gentle, pre-moistened facial cleansing wipes deeply cleanse the skin of bacteria, dirt and oil, ”Dr. Henry says.
Double cleaning – ALWAYS
Okay you should be doing this all the time, but if you are not, now is the best time to add an overnight cleanse to your daily skincare ritual. Washing your face twice a day is very important for healthy skin, especially now that you spend 99% of your day covering it with a piece of cloth infested with germs.
“Cleanse the skin twice a day with a gentle cleanser that doesn’t remove the moisture barrier. Consider a mild acne cleanser like Neutrogena’s Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser with Salicylic Acid to unclog pores and help prevent acne, ”advises Dr. Henry. “This facial cleanser uses 2% maximum strength salicylic acid and naturally derived grapefruit extract and vitamin C, to remove oil and dirt.”
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