What’s Maskne and How You Can Prevent It

Wait, maskne??? What the heck is that?! Okay look, we live in crazy times, alright? 2020 has been wild, we’re fighting a pandemic and we are all doing things to fight this pandemic – whether it’s donning masks to help slow the spread or staying at home the past 5 months in our PJs. You do you. Unfortunately, that also means having mask related acne, or maskne, as a side effect. Why does this happen? Let’s dive into that and explore some skincare options that will help alleviate your case of maskne and how to prevent it altogether.

What’s Maskne and Why Does It Happen?

So why is your face breaking out under your masks? Wearing a mask actually creates an enclosed area for bacteria and organisms to grow. Also, whatever left on your lips from lunch (mala? chicken rice?? oil????) will be touching the inner surfaces of your masks, which in turn can come into contact with your face. That, coupled with Singapore’s humidity and 30 degrees heat makes for a successfully increased moisture- rich environment for your face.

But it’s not just the humidity and moisture-rich environment that makes your face a bacteria breeding ground during maskne period, it turns out friction plays a huge part in that too. “Back when we had the first SARS epidemic, we noticed maskne, dermatitis from masks, and skin breakdown [due to mask-wearing],” says dermatologist Michelle Henry, M.D. “The friction between your mask and your skin can cause something called acne mechanica, which is common in people like football players who wear chin straps and helmets for long periods of time. “That friction causes inflammation and irritation which leads to clogged pores—and those clogged pores can lead to deep acne cysts,” she says.

While these are huge factors that are pretty difficult to work around when wearing a mask, you can do your part with altering your skincare routine to help lessen or even prevent maskne.

Simplify Your Routine

There’s always a time when less is more and when we’re talking about how much to put on your already stressed out face, this is one of those times. When you are wearing a mask, you are intensifying the delivery of these products to your skin. Think of it this way – when you’re putting a hair mask and you want the dried ends of your hair to soak up as much product as possible, you’d put on a hair bonnet over it. It’s the same thing and when you pile on skincare products under your mask, your skin might react negatively to this overloading of substances and pull a maskn revolution. Our advice? Stick to the simple basic products for the AM. Try streamlining your routine down to a toner and an oil free moisturiser and keep the heavy stuff for the night routine! We love this one from Shiseido. It has been applauded for its light application and a matte finish which means less oil and gunk for your skin to react to.

WASO Quick Matte Moisturizer Oil-free, prevent maskne
Photo Credits: BHG

Skip the Make Up

You guys! It’s a pandemic and no one is going to fault you for not piling on the foundation and bronzer etc. After all, prevention is better than the cure and we think that instead of putting on products to hide your acne, you should tackle the problem at its roots and get rid of your maskne. Do that by limiting the amount of products you have on in the area under your masks. Leave out your concealers, your foundations and your BB creams etc. If you absolutely can’t kick the habit and are insecure about being makeup free during the moments without your masks (like meal times), opt for a tinted moisturiser instead of a heavy and oily foundation. Try this one from Shiseido. It is a skin-brightening, tinted day moisturiser that adapts to your skin colour to enhance skin tone with long-lasting hydration. 

WASO Color-Smart Day Moisturizer,  prevent maskne
Photo Credits: BHG

Go Fragrance Free

It’s no secret that fragrance and essential oils irritate the skin. If you have sensitive skin, that translates to even more vulnerable, rash-prone skin and that is exactly what you want to avoid when trying to rid yourself of maskne. Go for lighter skincare that has no fragrance. While it might be a bit of a pain to not have your soothing scents of lavender or rose, your skin will thank you for it in the long run!

Go Easy On The Treatments

When we get break outs, our natural instinct would be to either 1) reach for a strong zit removing cream or 2) pop that sucka. If your hands gravitate towards the first, congratulations! You’re picking the lesser of the two evils (ie, never pop zits unless you like scars!) Unfortunately, strong and powerful zit removing creams are not the best choice when you’re trying to fix your already sensitive skin. When you are dealing with maskne, you’re dealing with vulnerable, pore-widened and rash ready skin, you want to go light and easy on the powerful products. Stay clear of creams with salicylic acid and go towards cell repair elements like aloe vera gel, hyaluronic acid or vitamin C. Try reaching for a benzoyl peroxide treatment on the problem areas, and starting with a low 2.5% concentration. Resist the urge to over apply because that may end up irritating your skin rather than soothing it.

Cleanse and Wash

Once the day is done, you’re homesafe and finally rid of that pesky mask, do not forget to double cleanse! This will get rid of all the bacteria, the gunk and oil just accumulating under your mask and ensure your face is a clean slate ready for all the good night serums you have in your PM skin care routine. A calm cleanser will usually work and we love this one from Clinque. This cleansing foam removes dirt and excess oil, soothes and calms redness and inflammation associated with breakouts and helps keep pores clear. Perfect for preventing maskne!

Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Maskne Prevent
Photo Credits: BHG

While we can’t NOT wear a mask, we can prevent maskne with these simple steps. Get your maskne fighting products today with hoolah’s buy now pay later solution! After all, prevention is always better than cure and this is especially so when it comes to our oh-so-fragile skin.

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