Like we don’t have enough to deal with at the moment... if wearing a face mask has become an essential part of your everyday life then you may also now need to deal with a mask- induced side effect called Acne Mechanica.
Better known as ‘Maskne’, it’s basically an Acne breakout on the skin caused by the prolonged use of facial PPE (personal protective equipment). Although not a new phenomenon (ask any nurse, doc or lab worker and you’ll get an eye-roll, “welcome to my world” type of reply), Maskne is quickly becoming a common issue as more and more of us move toward wearing facial masks on the daily.
Why does Maskne happen?
If you have read any of my earlier blogs on Acne, (check The Hydroxy Glow: regain control of your skin with ASI’s Oily/Acne Peel) you would already know that the P.bacteria that causes Acne already lives on your skin! Called Propionibacterium Acnes, this P.bacteria is part of a vast community of bacteria that colonise our bodies and while it mostly coexists peacefully on your skin’s surface; in warm, moist, airless environments, (like underneath your face mask) the P. bacteria go CRAZY!
They love this new oxygen deprived environment and coupled with the constant friction of the mask against the skin causing micro-tears and creating easy entry for bacteria as well as skin pores that are now more likely to clog up with the accumulation of dead skin cells, oil, make-up and sweat… the skin beneath our masks becomes the perfect breeding ground for the P.bacteria that causes acne to explode in numbers and set off active acne.
How to avoid Maskne
Ease up on the make-up... At least on the lower half of the face. Thick and heavy foundations in themselves already clog and suffocate the skin so give your skin a fighting chance by going make-up free or swapping out your usual contouring or full coverage foundations for a lightweight version. Try ASI Loose Mineral Foundation sprinkled into your favourite day cream for a tinted, moisturising coverage.
Double up on the cleansing… Start by using a creamy cleanser to loosen make-up, oil and dirt from the skin (try Radian Cream Cleanser from ASI). A good cream cleanser will be lipophilic meaning it naturally attract other oils, like that found in make-up and in sebum; your skin’s natural oil secretion. Like a magnet it will pick up the make-up, oil and dirt from your skin so that you can then easily wipe away or rinse with water. Immediately follow this up with a foaming cleanser like ASI Rejuvenating Foaming Cleanser … full of restorative vitamin C, and citric acid, this fresh and lathery cleanser will lightly exfoliate the skin’s surface and flush away impurities by dissolving the keratin plug that clogs the pores, oxygenating your skin and creating an undesirable environment for the p.bacteria. Best of all, the Rejuvenating Foaming Cleanser uses nourishing ingredients to deliver a deep and hydrating cleanse so can be used by all skin types.
Support your skin with some vitamin therapy… Add Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) to your skincare routine. A true powerhouse ingredient, Vitamin B3 is both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory meaning not only is it amazing in the fight against acne but also helps to manage other skin issues such as Rosacea, Eczema and Dermatitis… all conditions that can be exasperated by wearing a facial mask for prolonged periods. Vitamin B3 also helps to naturally reduce the skin’s oil production without the dryness and irritation that some oil control products cause. This reduction in oil production means that the skin pores are less likely to fill up or become engorged with oil, allowing them to tighten up and create a fortified surface.
Read more about Niacinamide on my blog: Vitamin B3 Niacinamide: The quiet superstar ingredient or grab ASI’s Vitamin B3 Complex $79.95 here
Make Zinc your new bff… Fundamental for new skin cell production, helping with collagen synthesis and DNA repair (great for wound healing and strengthening the skin) it also side-hustles as an anti-inflammatory & anti-bacterial agent, helping to alleviate Eczema, Dermatitis and active Acne. When applied to the skin, zinc will slow the growth of active bacteria by reducing the production of sebum; making it less fertile for those nasty p-bacteria to ‘get jiggy with it’ on your skin! Get your daily hit of zincy goodness from ASI’s Rejuvenating Day Cream. A potent cosmeceutical moisturiser full of illuminating Vitamin B3, super hydrating Hyaluronic Acid and protective zinc. It targets fine lines, wrinkles and dehydration with the added benefits of controlling acne breakouts and skin sensitivity.
Be mask savvy… Keep your mask clean! Disposable masks are only intended to be on your face for a few hours at a time and although an easier more convenient way to stay protected, the flip side is that disposable masks are now expensive and hard to come bye. So if you opt for a cloth mask, consider keeping a few with you so that you can change them every 3 or 4 hours (keep a little plastic bag to pop them into throughout the day) and then simply throw them all in the wash at the end of the day. Use a mild detergent or hypoallergenic detergent. Detergents with fragrances or fabric softeners can leave a residue in the fabric which can aggravate skin sensitivity and skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis.