Wearing a face mask to help ease the spread of COVID-19 is the new normal worldwide. An unwelcome side effect is breakouts or acne around the lower half of your face, which has been dubbed 'maskne'.
Friction, moisture, trapped dirt & bacteria create the perfect breeding ground for breakouts, flare-ups, and general maskne.
So, what happens is: the occlusive nature (seal-it-in-ability) of face masks leads to breakouts and acne. The change in environment on your skin (humidity from your hot breath) and the friction caused by wearing a mask can cause inflammation and irritation.
Here's what you can do to help ease maskne:
- Minimize makeup. Or at least cut it back. Many foundations aren't pore-friendly. To give your skin the best chance of breathing, try to ease-up on the contour and full coverage foundation.
- Soothe pimples with clay. A clarifying clay mask will quickly calm and soothe any active and angry breakouts.
- Cleanse correctly. Double cleansing in the evening will ensure your skin is clean, nourished, balanced, and prepped to soak up your night-time skincare.
- Save your rich skincare for PM. The environment created by wearing a mask is fairly occlusive, meaning the good moisture and the harmful bacteria are trapped together. The best practice is to avoid heavier skincare, like rich moisturizers, during the day when wearing a mask so as not to amplify the occlusive environment.
- Be consistent and gentle with your routine. Now is not the time to test out fancy new products and methods. Be gentle with your skin and focus on keeping it balanced, hydrated, and soothed.
- Wash your mask often. Disposable masks are only intended to be on your face for 4 hours at a time, so if you're using a cloth one, it's essential to keep it clean. Wash it after every use to ensure you're not trapping existing dirt and bacteria onto your skin and to keep it clean.
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- Don't touch your mask or your face. You know the rules of not touching your face. The same applies when you're wearing your protective face masks. Keep your hands clean and far away from your face to minimize any additional breakout-causing bacteria.
- Use a pimple patch to create a sanitized space. This will allow you to treat any breakouts throughout the day. It'll also act as a barrier between your mask and the irritation to prevent it from flaring up.
- Exfoliate regularly. Using ingredients that are too harsh can strip away your skin's natural lipids disrupting your moisture barrier, which can often cause breakouts to worsen. But a gentle exfoliator used 2-3 times a week will help clear your face of dirt/grime/old skin cells and allow your hydrating products to sink in deep and work hard.
While many of us only wear a face mask while outside, essential workers must wear one for the entire day. The point of protective face masks is to keep bacteria and germs contained, which is extremely important in keeping a pandemic contained. The downside to that is that it stays around your face. That can cause your skin to flare up. It can cause irritation and breakouts, all of which can be addressed with a skincare routine.
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