So We Just Cracked the Formula for Mask Acne
While more than half of Americans have been fully vaccinated, most of us are still wearing face masks in public places. As a result, maskne - breakouts caused by wearing a mask - is continuing to be an issue for many people.
If you're someone who's suffering the consequences of mask wearing via your skin, you're no doubt wondering what you can do about it. Thankfully, we've cracked the formula for maskne - so you don't have to.
WHAT IS MASK ACNE, OR MASKNE?
We'll let the experts explain...
"The technical term for maskne is ‘acne mechanica,’ and it is the result of the mechanical friction of fabric against the skin," says board-certified dermatologist Carlos Charles. "That friction can lead to inflammation and irritation of the skin that impacts the pores, contributing to acne." What's more, it can be exacerbated by moisture getting trapped in the mask from sweating.
Before the pandemic, this form of facial irritation was mainly experienced by athletes, due to the sweat and friction in their helmets and straps. Now we are seeing it more and more with people wearing face masks for an extended period of time.
Of course, those with acne-prone skin are more likely to experience this issue than other skin types. However, experts say it can affect all skin types.
THE FORMULA FOR CURING MASKNE
We did some investigating and experimenting, and we finally cracked the formula for mask acne.
Wash Your Face
It may sound obvious, but you'd be surprised by how many people don't wash their face every day. If you want to prevent and clear mask blemishes, make face washing a daily habit to keep skin clean, healthy, and blemish-free. And it will take more than a splash of water on the face to get rid of the grime.
The key to treating mask acne is using a gentle face cleanser that maintains the skin barrier while washing away sweat, oil, impurities, and dead skin cells.
If you've got oily skin, opt for a cleanser formulated with salicylic acid as this is a known acne-fighter, effective at treating and preventing pimples. Use it in your daily skincare routine, once or twice a day, to quickly clear up your maskne.
Wash Your Mask
Prevention is always a good idea. A great way to prevent maskne from forming in the first place, or potentially getting worse, is to wash your face mask daily. If you are wearing a disposable mask, make sure you replace it as often as possible so that you're always wearing a fresh one. Alternatively, air it out between uses.
"I would say it’s best to wash them after use, so maybe at the end of every day before you use it again," explains infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Maryland. "If you’ve been out all day, you should probably wash it again."
It's quick, it's easy, but it's so effective in warding off maskne flareups.
Avoid Over-Doing it
As tempting as it might be to start overloading your skin with acne-fighting face masks, exfoliating scrubs, and lotions, it's important not to over-do it. If you start developing maskne, you should go easy on your skin. Over-doing it can compromise your skin's barrier, leaving it vulnerable to other skin concerns.
It's best to use gentle skincare products that aren't too drying to prevent irritating your skin any more. Since maskne is essentially a form of skin irritation, you'll only be worsening matters by slathering on irritating retinol serums and purifying sheet masks. If your skin feels itchy or tight after using a skincare product, you'll know it's too harsh for your skin.
For hydration after washing, reach for products with hyaluronic acid, like Rainbow's Hydrate Serum. This'll help treat dryness and irritation, while actively treating skin issues like fine lines, dry skin, and hyperpigmentation.
Choose the Best Face Mask
A significant step in preventing maskne is choosing the right face mask. Dermatologists say you should stick with lightweight cotton or silk, as these are gentler on the skin and create less friction than materials like polyester and rayon. This is especially important if you have a skin condition like eczema or rosacea, as the wrong kind of mask may only worsen your symptoms. Speak to your dermatologist if you have concerns.
If you’re having a hard time keeping your mask clean and dry, dermatology professionals recommend using disposable masks, so that you’ll always be wearing a fresh one. Disposable face masks are particularly handy in hot, humid temperatures as they're thin enough to keep you from sweating in the sweltering heat.
Exfoliating once or twice a week can keep dead skin cells and dirt away, while enabling other skin products to penetrate more effectively. Our favorite method of exfoliation is using alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid and lactic acid. These help remove the buildup of dirt, oil, and dead skin, preventing blackheads, whiteheads, and pustules.
What's more, buffing the skin comes with brightening effects as well as anti-aging benefits, so it's ultimately a win-win-win. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to limit exfoliating sessions to once a week or less.
Try Rainbow's Glow Serum with glycolic acid and bakuchiol.
P.S.: Continue Wearing Sunscreen
Even though half your face may be covered by a mask, that doesn't mean you can get away without wearing SPF. You should be wearing it every day for maximum protection against pollution and UV rays. Look for a sunscreen formulated with antioxidants like vitamin C to boost the effects of your SPF.
If you're tired of dealing with maskne, you aren't alone. Many of us have also experienced breakouts with prolonged use of face masks. Luckily, there is light at the end of the tunnel. We've cracked the formula for mask acne -- and it's much easier than you could ever have expected. Give these tips a try, and see for yourself.