The Truth About Maskne

This year has created unprecedented experiences for most of us.  The beauty industry has experienced a full on

image of a woman with maskne

 Unfortunately, hours of wearing a mask can wreak havoc on our skin. 

This happens as well with sunglasses or reading glasses.  The perpetual “accessory” that sits on the skin for hours at a time will inevitably wreak havoc as our skin is designed to absorb or excrete substances without suffocation.

Masks also collect bacteria from the mouth, nose, and then dirt and oil from the skin.  For people who are already acne prone, the mask can cause increased sweating and oil production which can lead to breakouts.  Many clients notice these “maskne” breakouts on the bridge of their nose, chin and/or cheeks. 

I am sure by now you have had clients with the 911 skin emergencies: mask blemishes such as whiteheads, blackheads, cysts and abrasions from the constant mask rubbing.  The summer’s warmer months introduced us to mask irritation from trapped humidity, dirt, oil and sweat.  The winter will most likely bring about a new host of challenges with the inevitable friction, rubbing and occlusion from the mask that will be added irritation to dry or sensitive skin causing contact dermatitis, eczema and skin breakdown manifesting into red, dry, itchy skin.  Because we cannot eliminate the outside force causing it, we must make adjustments to our clients’ skincare routines to combat the maskne cycle. 

Image of a woman getting a chemical peel

 Here are some skincare tips:

  1. Recommend an alpha and/or beta hydroxy acid or benzoyl peroxide cleanser to help eliminate acne causing bacteria and reduce excess oil. If your client sweats often, recommend they use an astringent such as witch hazel wipes to mitigate bumps and prevent from drying out the skin.
  2. If the mask is washable, encourage them to consider natural laundry detergents to keep the fabric mask non-toxic, clean and sanitized.
  3. Recommend clients use a barrier repairing cream to help with over exfoliation or stripping the natural acid mantle. For clients who wear their mask for a long work-day, recommend they layer on a hydrating and occlusive balm along the area where the mask sits right before they put the mask on.
  4. They should avoid heavy foundations which only further trap bacteria into the pores and instead opt for a tinted moisturizer and a mineral powder foundation that is more breathable and does not perpetuate more acne bacteria.
  5. Recommend non-comedogenic and oil free sunscreen options as they decrease oil and prevent pore-clogging. Mineral sunscreens are ideal because zinc oxide as anti-irritant and has anti—microbial properties which are ideal for acne-prone and sensitive skin types.

Ultimately, we need to provide our clients with support and encouragement during this unsettling time. Remember we will eventually be on the other side of this pandemic.