Article originally written for Next Steps In Derm.
Not all superheroes wear capes. But in this case, they all wear masks. Whether you’re an essential worker donning the mask for hours and hours (thank you!) or masking-up before a trip to the grocery store, you’re helping to protect your community and your health by wearing face coverings.
But when the mask comes off, you may have noticed some new facial foes: blemishes, skin irritation, peeling, or redness around your jawline, cheeks, and mouth.
Those irritations in fact have become so common that mask acne has now been dubbed maskne.
To defeat this enemy, we talked to Dr. Nazanin Saedi, Director of Jefferson Laser Surgery and Cosmetic Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Read on to learn about face mask acne and other mask skin irritations, their cause, treatment, and preventative measures you can take every day.
What is ‘Maskne?’
Maskne is acne breakouts along the jaw, cheeks, and mouth caused by wearing a face mask—get it? Mask, acne, maskne!
Typically, acne occurs when pores become clogged by sweat, oil, moisture, or dirt. These elements trap bacteria beneath the skin’s barrier, creating a pimple.
The difference between acne and maskne is one thing: a face mask.
“We are seeing irritation and acne more on the face with people wearing masks for an extended period of time,” Dr. Saedi told ALASTIN. “You can see breakouts in the areas covered by the mask and also the areas where the mask and face shields touch the skin.”
So how does the mask play into maskne?
Here are just a few ways masks can cause acne from a face mask:
No matter how you’re using your mask, maskne will probably be a consistent issue in the future. And left untreated, things could only get worse.
“If mask-caused acne is not treated, it can lead to more acne but also the irritation can cause more of a breakdown in the skin barrier,” says Dr. Saedi.
But thanks to experts like Dr. Saedi, we have a maskne solution for mask-wearing heroes everywhere.
Whether you’re wearing a surgical mask, disposable mask, or washable mask for double-shifts at your essential job or for a long morning run, (or as you fight crime in Gotham City), there are ways you can prevent maskne.
Wearing your mask helps shield you against health concerns. And like wearing your mask, fortifying skin care practices can protect your skin from maskne.
Try incorporating these rituals into your skincare routine:
So repeat after us: A gentle cleanser twice a day keeps the maskne away.
But which product can directly support the issues caused by maskne? “I recommend using a gentle cleanser such as ALASTIN’s Gentle Cleanser,” Dr. Saedi says.
ALASTIN’s Gentle Cleanser can cleanse impurities, environmental pollutants, and makeup from the skin without causing irritation. This formula’s inflammation-calming antioxidants also help reduce redness in blemishes.
“People might be overdoing it at home with face masks, scrubs, washes, and toners,” says Dr. Saedi. “Overdoing it will compromise the barrier.”
Simplify your skin care routine and focus on calming, nourishing products instead.
Just ask the good doc:
“I also recommend moisturizing the skin regularly. Many people with acne or redness are hesitant to moisturize and think that will break out more. If you have dry skin, then you have compromised the skin barrier and will be more prone to breaking out and having sensitive skin irritation.”
Thanks Dr. Saedi!
Using a light, nightly moisturizer helps to strengthen the skin barrier, preventing skin irritation from the mask.
How you manage your mask can help amplify the effects of your skincare treatment. Take a look at these smart mask practices to help reduce maskne:
If you have acne-prone skin, you may need a special mask to help prevent breakouts. According to scientists, silk or silk-lined masks have antimicrobial properties and are gentle on your skin.
Plus, you’ll feel so fancy.
But if silk is scarce, you can’t go wrong with a cotton mask. The light, breathable fabric will let air circulate easier in your mask and help reduce sweat and oil production.
Yes, just be sure to protect your skin as much as you can from the rubbing and irritations of a mask.
For dealing with irritations and a mask, Dr. Saedi has the solution, “I recommend ALASTIN’s Soothe + Protect Recovery Balm for areas where there is a breakdown in the skin.”
This unique formula supports the body’s natural renewal properties, fortifies the skin barrier, calms redness, and helps keep the skin hydrated.
Now that you know how to prevent maskne, you may be wondering, “Well, what am I supposed to do with the maskne I have now? I have a battle with the Joker later and I don’t want to look ridiculous!”
There are multiple maskne treatments to try, here are just a few:
Acne spot treatments tend to be very drying. Use them gradually to help blast blemishes and prevent future pimples.
You’re now thoroughly educated on the in’s and out’s of maskne. But when it comes to fighting the villainous maskne and supporting long-term skin health, stock your medicine cabinet (or utility belt) with the best—ALASTIN.
ALASTIN’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Alan Widgerow has seen some incredible results from ALASTIN’s formulas when it comes to mask-caused skin irritants: “Overall, these ALASTIN products facilitate the body’s capacity to heal by providing an ideal micro-environment in which to do that.”
Here’s a quick list of ALASTIN’s maskne essentials and how to use them.
This superheroic skin care team can do wonders for your skin. Dr. Widgegrow saw the results himself on health care workers using the formulas to nourish and protect their skin from mask-related skin issues:
“It is not surprising to me that reports are filtering through about the tremendous relief experienced with the use of ALASTIN’s Regenerating Skin Nectar and Soothe + Protect Balm in health care workers following the protracted use of masks. The combination of potent anti-inflammatory components and positive healing factors ensure that not only symptoms improve but in the case of any superficial breaches of the skin, these heal optimally too.”
You’ve been wearing your face mask to protect yourself and others. You’re a hero. With ALASTIN, you can protect your skin as well as your health. Because in times like these, your skin deserves love and care. But most importantly, so do you. For that, we’re here to help.
Check out ALASTIN's nourishing and restorative formulas for every skin type at Newhope Laser Skin Care.
Mayo Clinic. Acne. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acne/symptoms-causes/syc-20368047
Shape. Dermatologist Explain Everything You Need to Know About ‘Maskne’. https://www.shape.com/lifestyle/beauty-style/maskne-face-mask-acne-mechanica
The Washington Post. Wearing a mask can irritate your face or make it break out. Here’s what to do about ‘maskne.’ https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/face-mask-acne-breakout-coronavirus/2020/06/03/57ed3d84-a4ea-11ea-b619-3f9133bbb482_story.html
ACS Publications. Aerosol Filtration Efficiency of Common Fabrics Used in Respiratory Cloth Masks. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acsnano.0c03252