While we all love a good hydrating or detoxifying face mask, the Covid pandemic has forced us to become familiar with a different type of mask. Wearing a mask or facial covering to protect ourselves and others has become a daily routine for many of us. However, our skin is not so happy about this change…
What is 'Maskne'?
‘Maskne’ is a term used to describe acne that is caused by prolonged wearing of masks or facial coverings.
When wearing masks, the air we breathe becomes encased within this material causing an increase of temperature on that area of the skin. This increase in temperature leads to the increasing production of sebum (oil our skin creates) and sweat, which often leads to pore blockages and acne. The warmer environment is also a perfect ground for bacteria that help the formation of acne. Propionibacterium (otherwise known as P bacteria) is a common bacterium known to thrive in such environments and is responsible for the spread of acne when wearing a face covering.
Contact dermatitis is another skin reaction seen by many mask wearers. This condition can appear in the form of dry skin, redness, inflammation, and may become itchy. Friction of the mask on skin is most likely the culprit, however sensitive skin can be very reactive.
Skin conditions, where the acid barrier that protects our skin has been compromised, such as rosacea and eczema, will most likely be exacerbated by prolonged mask wearing.
What should I do?
They say prevention is better than a cure! So here are some measures you can take to maintain skin health:
Back to basics: Cleansing your skin morning and night is an essential part of any skin care routine. A cleanser such as Pevonia’s Sensitive Skin Cleanser will gently remove excess oil, sweat and debris from the skin. With ingredients such as safflower, chamomile and vitamin E to calm irritation, reduce redness and nourish the skin.
Protect the acid barrier: Mask wearing has caused some changes in our skin, impairing the acid barrier that protects our skin by upsetting the pH balance. Invest in a non-comedogenic moisturiser such as Pevonia’s Sensitive Skin Cream. To be used morning and night, this light but hydrating moisturiser uses soothing propolis and aloe ingredients, that will leave your skin replenished without causing blockages.
Switch up your PPE: Investing in lightweight fabrics like cotton or silk will decrease the friction created against your skin. Wash your mask before wearing it and frequently between uses. This will help lessen the build-up of oil, sweat and bacteria in your mask, and less will be transferred onto your skin. If you use disposable masks, make sure to change them as needed, never re-use them, and dispose of them properly. Taking a 15-minute break from your mask every few hours or so (only when safe to do so), and having mask free days at home, can help to break up the humid environment that acne thrives in!
Brush those pearly whites: Now is more important than ever to look after your oral health. If we don’t brush our teeth a build-up of bacteria can cause gum disease, tooth decay and cavities. Can you imagine what that bacteria would be doing to your skin when you don’t brush or floss, then breathe that air back onto your face while wearing a mask? It’s not a pretty picture, so make sure you brush, floss and see your dentist regularly and you will not only be looking after your teeth, but also your skin’s health!
But I’ve broken out, what now…?
Don't stress... we've got the answers!
Spot Be-Gone: A spot treatment called Clarifyl Spot Treatment by Pevonia to the rescue! Powerful ingredients including glycolic acid, salicylic acid and aloe combine to clear any blockages and counteract bacteria, giving exceptional results. Encouraging rapid healing, it keeps skin follicles clean, clear, and bacteria-free. Salicylic acid, unlike other beta hydroxy acids, can penetrate deep into the pore and dissolve any trapped sebum, dirt and debris, making it the perfect weapon against acne.
No Picking: As much satisfaction as you get from popping a pimple, it’s the worst thing you can do! By doing so, the wound healing process is delayed, you can create a scar, and you can spread bacteria further across the skin, creating more acne!
Let your skin breathe: Taking a break from wearing make-up is rejuvenating for your skin. Make-up products sit on top of your skin and with prolonged use may alter sebum production. With the added humidity of mask wearing, this creates the perfect environment for Propionibacterium to turn trapped excess sebum into fatty acids, causing inflammation in our skin cells and leading to dreaded pustule acne.
Need some more help? Contact one of our friendly therapists at Lux Spa & Wellness for a chat! You can also check out our other articles, Understanding Acne and Managing Rosacea and Sensitive Skin, for more information on maintaining your skin’s health.