Maskne: How To Treat & Avoid Spots While Wearing Face Coverings

Face masks are now mandatory in most shops and venues around the UK. And though easy to wear, experts warn moisture build-up from our breath and decreased air circulation could lead to skin irritation or breakouts – in other words, ‘maskne.’ From choosing the right material, to the treatments to try if a flare-up occurs, skincare specialist Dr Emma Cunningham shares her advice…

First, Identify The Cause

“Skin irritation – including acne, rosacea, seborrhoea and dermatitis – are on the increase since face masks became compulsory. The reason for this is quite simple, but difficult to counteract, nonetheless. Put simply, breathing and talking while wearing a mask results in a build-up in humidity within the covered area. This humidity can alter the pH of your skin, resulting in an increase in bacteria colonisation on the surface of your complexion. In addition, the constant friction/irritation of the mask can lead to a dry, cracked skin barrier. This then allows bacteria to enter clogged oil glands, hence the inflammation and breakouts you’re seeing. You’ll know if your spots are caused by the mask because they’ll occur in the exact area that covers your skin.”

Keep Make-Up To A Minimum

“For starters, try to avoid touching the mask whenever possible, and when it’s not, always wash your hands to prevent transference of germs. When it comes to your beauty regime, try to go as make-up free as you can, specifically avoiding thick foundations and concealers. If this isn’t an option, look to non-comedogenic (oil-free) formulations as these will prevent your pores from clogging up further. Lightweight mineral-based make-up is just as good for coverage and is much more breathable.” 

Adapt Your Regime 

“To prevent breakouts as much as possible, it’s important to thoroughly remove oil, dirt and bacteria from the skin before and after wearing your mask. Do this with a gentle cleanser and look for one that contains ingredients like salicylic acid to help aid the removal of dead skin cells. In turn, this will reduce clogged pores and prevent any pesky breakouts – the ZO Exfoliating Cleanser offers particularly speedy results. If you’re someone who suffered with acne before, staying committed to a regime is more important than ever. Try including products that contain benzoyl peroxide to dry up any breakouts, and look for hyaluronic acid formulations, too, which will keep skin plump and moisturised.” 

Up Hydration Levels

“Maintaining skin hydration is fundamental while you wear a mask, so look for skincare that’s rich in niacinamide. Not only will this hydrate, it will also have a calming effect on the skin and take down any inflammation. Hydrating sprays are a great tool, especially if your skin is spending long hours underneath a mask. Look for formulas that have high levels of hyaluronic acid as this will give your skin an extra boost of moisture.”

Switch Up The Fabric

“Where possible, opt for natural, fibre masks that can be washed regularly to prevent any bacteria coating the skin. Surgical, disposable masks are still a good option, but these will need to be binned and replaced daily. If you’re finding your acne is getting worse or you’ve started to break out more than usual, opt for silk masks. The material is a non-irritant and completely breathable – likewise, cotton masks are lightweight and comfortable for those who suffer with skin sensitivity. Whichever option you choose, ensure you’re washing it often to get rid of any dirt that’s built-up.” 

Don’t Neglect Your Lips 

“While your cheeks and chin will be the main areas that suffer, your lips need a bit of TLC, too. They can become dry, cracked and flaky as a result of wearing a mask – you may even see a few, small white spots appear, too. To counteract the effects, make sure you’re keeping them as hydrated as the rest of your complexion. Dr Lipp’s Nipple Balm is a great treatment for nourishing thin skin without feeling too occlusive or blocking any pores.”
 

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