The world has changed dramatically over the last year, and suddenly wearing a mask became the norm. But this new habit of mask-wearing, while providing us protection, has ultimately led to some consequences for our skin. Breakouts and irritation from our masks, AKA maskne, has become a trending issue, so we’re here with our Panel of Picky Experts to help shed some light on this dilemma.
Are you dealing with maskne?
Jenny: Yes, I’ve had a lot more breakouts along my chin and jawline. I’ve also experienced more skin irritation and dryness.
Jaja: Sadly yes, even dermatologists aren’t exempt from maskne during this pandemic.
Beibei: Another yes, I’ve experienced more breakouts and irritation under my mask. The main source of this is the persistent moisture build-up underneath the mask. This makes my skin react with blotchy and odd inflamed spots, but no new comedones!
Tips for maskne
Jenny: More is less when using acne fighting ingredients. The friction and humidity from the mask can further compromise the skin barrier and irritation, worsening acne. So my tips are:
- Moisturizers are essential
- Avoid physical exfoliants and use chemical ones instead
- Sunscreen daily!
Jaja: Some of my tips for beating maskne would include:
- Wash your face right after wearing a mask, but don’t over-cleanse!
- If you’re wearing a mask for an extended period of time, try to have a rest period of 15 minutes to gently wipe away accumulated dirt with facial wipes
- Try to wear light or no makeup
Beibei: I don’t recommend experimenting with new skincare products that could potentially irritate the skin. Especially when your skin is already being exposed to an unusual environment regularly.
Ingredients that can help
Jenny: I love combining benzoyl peroxide and adapalene. In the US, it’s an affordable option! I personally love BPO in cleansers since it usually is less irritating and effective, and when combined with adapalene it has a synergistic acne fighting effect. Also using salicylic acid as a spot treatment could be helpful.
- Jenny’s Pick: Cerave’s Acne Foam Cleanser with 4% BPO.
- Tip: Use it nightly, leave on for 4-5 minutes and then rinse off. Follow up with an adapalene 0.1% gel and moisturizer. Some adapalene gels to try are La Roche-Posay Cicaplast B5 Balm and Avene’s Cicalfate Cream.
A few times a month you can also try doing a gentle chemical exfoliant. I personally like leave on treatments in place of my retinoid 1-2x a week. I like using Drunk Elephant TLC Facial and Naturium Glycolic 10!
Jaja: Definitely centella asiatica to help calm inflammation. I recommend trying a moisturizer containing this soothing ingredient!
Beibei: Keeping that skin barrier in peak condition is most important, so use a good moisturizer with a nice mix of occlusives, emollients and humectants. Soothing and barrier-supporting ingredients are best, such as niacinamide, cica (centella asiatica), panthenol and allantoin.
- Beibei’s Pick: Avene Cicalfate. A good multipurpose product for sensitive skin containg copper sulfate and zinc oxide.
- Tip: I recommend using at night and following up with a soothing barrier-supporting lotion in the morning. For those with worsening comedones try Cerave SA Smoothing Cleanser.
What kind of mask is best?
Jenny: Disposable mask if possible. But if you’re using a reusable mask, I recommend switching them out daily, washing them regularly (at least a few times weekly) and stick to cotton based materials.
Jaja: Disposable masks offer the least irritation and friction, so if that’s your option than make sure to change it daily. For cloth masks, try opting for cotton fabric and make sure to wash it daily. Choose a mask that fits your face well, not too tight or too lose!
Beibei: Although it’s not the most environmentally friendly, using a surgical mask that gets changed frequently will probably be the most maskne-safe option. Also, using a mask that matches your local public health advice to protect you from potential risks is the most important!
For instance, in the UK the recommendation is to wear a ‘face covering’ mask. So theoretically, a soft and breathable fabric such as silk would be good for individuals with sensitive skin or fragile skin barriers.
When to seek professional help
Jenny: If you have severe acne to start, or if your acne isn’t improving after a few months of acne treatments then it may be best to see a dermatologist. If you’re already seeing scars from your acne, then I definitely suggest seeing a dermatologist to prevent further scarring.
Jaja: My opinion is to seek professional help at the first sign of maskne since it could be due to other causes aside from acne.
Beibei: In my personal opinion, I generally think it’s best to seek professional guidance if you are concerned or bothered about your skin. If you’re trying some basic measures at home and things are only getting worse, then seek support.
Join the conversation
There’s a lot to discuss on the Picky app! Check out posts surrounding ‘maskne’ in Discuss to see if there’s any tips or product recommendations you can try. Or if you simply want to battle that acne, head to our All About Acne blog post to find ingredients that could be helpful. Picky has various ways to make your skincare easier, so start exploring! Don’t forget to see the other skincare related content on both our blog and instagram.