Ditch the zits, not the mask. 😷
By now, we're all very aware that face masks are now part of the new norm under quarantine (and if you aren't wearing one yet, it's time to hop on the bandwagon). Though many of us have not only accepted face masks but have used them as a new form of fashion, there's one issue that seems to keep popping up: maskne.
According to celebrity esthetician and founder of eponymous skincare line Renée Rouleau, maskne is exactly what it sounds like: acne caused by your personal protective equipment (PPE).
"Wearing a mask or other protective gear around your face can lead to a type of acne called acne mechanica," Rouleau says. "The only difference between acne mechanica and regular acne is the cause; while regular breakouts tend to be hormonally driven, acne mechanica is caused by friction (a physical disruption to the skin). When something is constantly rubbing up against your skin, the combination of friction, heat, and pressure can be a trigger for breakouts."
So, what's the main offense that causes maskne?
"The friction responsible for acne mechanica is the culprit behind most irritation caused by protective face masks," Rouleau says. "In fact, red, bumpy, rashy skin is a common precursor to acne mechanica. All of these are also signs of inflammation, which can wake up your skin’s pigment cells and cause lingering pigmentation long after the redness has subsided."
Rouleau also notes that due to the constant friction, your skin's protective moisture barrier can be disturbed, and it can create tiny cracks, leading to more skin ailments.
Good news: Rouleau has a few tips to keep your skin protected from any mask-related blemishes!
"The goal should be to create a healthy environment in your skin where bacteria won’t thrive," she says, "This comes down to reducing oil production and using products with non-drying, antimicrobial properties."
Her first tip: Wash your mask regularly. "Not only is this the best practice for good hygiene, but it will also prevent oil and dirt from being reintroduced onto the skin," she says.
Second: Practice proper skin hygiene. What does that mean? Using an antibacterial toner throughout the day, and properly cleansing your skin at night.
"Properly cleansing your face before bed is always important," Rouleau says. "Start by cleansing your skin with a gentle, antimicrobial face wash that contains ingredients like salicylic acid or tea tree extract." After cleansing, she suggests using a detoxing face mask like the Renée Rouleau Rapid Response Detox Masque.
Rouleau also suggests incorporating a serum with salicylic acid about twice per week to clear your pores at night. "Salicylic acid is unique in that it has the ability to cut through oil and really get into your pore lining," she says.
Lastly, Rouleau also recommends switching to a mineral-based powder sunscreen, which is more gentle on your skin. "Regardless if you work indoors, SPF is also necessary," she says. "If you’re already struggling to keep your skin clear while wearing a protective face mask, you may want to opt for a mineral sunscreen powder instead of a traditional lotion or cream-based sunscreen."
Already dealing with bouts of tiny pimples caused from your face mask? Bummer. But Rouleau does have a few tips to soothe your troubled skin.
"The most important thing to focus on when treating irritation is keeping the skin protected and well-hydrated," she says. "If irritated, rashy skin is your concern, try using a hydrating, serum-infused toner a few times a day. I think of these toners as more of an ‘essence’ because they pamper and soothe thirsty skin cells by delivering moisture deep into the skin. Doing this a few times a day will remove dirt and oil buildup while simultaneously soothing the skin."
She also recommends ditching the acid and physical exfoliants for a bit to avoid excess irritation. "Adding in exfoliation could be too much," she says. "Listen to your skin and pull back if it seems like too much."
Also, Rouleau suggests using a cooling, hydrating gel mask to soothe your skin after a long day. "Gel masques tend to be the most soothing thanks to their naturally cooler temperatures," she says. "You can even stash your masque in the fridge for an extra-comforting treat!"
Last but not least, try looking out for a moisturizer that has soothing ingredients to help calm your blemish flare-ups.
"To focus on rebuilding and protecting your skin’s protective moisture barrier, use a healing moisturizer with reparative ingredients," she says.
Now that you've got the full scoop on maskne, check out our favorites for soothing any mask-related blemishes, below.