Protecting ourselves, and others by wearing a mask or face covering may be the new normal, but new-found skin issues are cropping up as a result. And it’s not just healthcare and other essential workers, who wear their masks hour after hour like the superheroes they are. Guys are seeing skin issues crop up in the mask zone, from minor irritation to acne breakouts and worse.
And that’s no surprise. The mask creates its own “micro-climate,” and it’s a jungle in there. Warm, due to trapped body heat. Humid, from the moisture on your breath (let’s assume your teeth are brushed). Stale, because the mask slows the release of carbon dioxide. All in all, it creates a really irritating environment for skin.
So whether you’re masked up for a 14-hour shift or a half-hour jog, you may be seeing and feeling the effects on your skin. Redness. Dryness. Blemishes. And yes, face mask acne or maskne.
The fix? Raise your skin care game to lower your skin drama. Here’s how:
1. Lightweight Masks, FTW.
Find fabrics that are light and breathable to help reduce friction, keep you cooler and reduce the buildup of sweat and humidity. If your mask has a nose bridge, it will help with a more secure fit and reduce eye-glass fog as well.
2. Clean masks help prevent breakouts.
This one’s easy: use a fresh, clean mask every day, so you’re not exposing your face to a buildup of bacteria that can cause irritation and breakouts. Your skin is already stressed, so no reason to make things worse. Alternative options? If you can't whip up a homemade face mask to help prevent acne, try tossing your used mask in the laundry, or popping it in a pot and boil for 15 minutes.
3. The importance of skincare under the mask.
Use a gentle facial cleanser morning and night to get rid of dirt, dried sweat and any other pore-clogging crud. Mild, soap-free formulas and gentle exfoliation can pack a 1-2 punch by whisking away grime and freshening up the surface of the skin. But don’t get carried away, since cleaning multiple times a day can work against your skin. Twice is nice.
4. How to treat face mask acne.
Put an instant chill on irritation or tight compression marks by holding a cold washcloth on your cheeks and chin. The colder the better; dip it in ice water if possible. There’s a reason it’s a classic move for soothing irritation. Channel your favorite movie nurse as needed.
5. Hydration is critical to taming maskne.
The chemistry is counter-intuitive, but all the humidity under a mask can actually dry out your skin (even if you’re a bit oily). That’s why using a lightweight moisturizer is key. The right face moisturizer will amp up hydration levels all day, and give your skin the power to rehydrate itself.
Stronger from within, your skin stays more calm and comfortable under cover, and looks great when the mask comes off. So long, mask acne.