How to Prevent ‘Maskne’ — the Pandemic’s Latest Gift to Us All

Woman wearing mask
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The last year has been hard enough without throwing mask-related acne into the mix. But fear not, today we've got some tips and tricks to keep the dreaded "maskne" at bay.

As if the pandemic hasn’t already introduced enough inconveniences into our lives, over the last year millions of people have had to deal with a novel skincare problem as well – maskne.

That’s right, these face coverings we wear to keep us from harm (and they do — for the love of god please wear one) are introducing some less-than-desirable breakouts and skin irritations in the process.

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One of the main culprits is the friction caused by fabric running across your face for extended periods of time. This is most likely to affect those who wear masks all day at work, those who exercise in them, and those who have sensitive, break-out prone skin to begin with.  

But it’s not a hopeless case. Today, we’ve got a few tips to help you keep that skin looking free and clear. Even if no one else is seeing it right now anyway.

Be Choosy About Your Fabrics

If you’re working out — or just sweating — in your mask, experts say to steer clear of synthetic fabrics like polyester. They don’t breathe, and will just keep that sweat sitting on your skin.

“The first thing that I recommend for my patients is to really think about the fabric of your mask. I recommend using a soft, gentle fabric against your skin,” says Dr. Rajani Katta, a board-certified dermatologist.

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Also, opt for a mask with multiple layers. Most importantly because of the extra protection it offers, but also because it can allow the inner-most layer to be softer on the skin, lessening irritation.

“If you’re using a fabric mask, the ideal mask is one that has several layers. This increases the protective ability of the mask, and also allows the inner layer against your skin to be soft and absorbent cotton,” Dr. Katta explains.

Wash Your Masks as Frequently as Possible

It’s super easy to get into a routine, like always keeping a mask in your car for errands, and forget how important it is to wash them frequently. But this might be the most important tip in keeping your skin breakout-free.

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Technically, you should be washing your fabric masks with hot water and a fragrance-free detergent, and then completely drying them, after every single use. This removes dirt, oil, and skin cells that can lead to breakouts.

Sound time consuming? Keep several masks in rotation so you’re not doing laundry every day, and keep disposable masks on hand for when you’re in a pinch. “You wouldn’t want to use a sweaty T-shirt without washing it first, and the same applies for a mask,” Dr. Katta notes.

Blech.  

Don’t Waste Your Makeup

I know, I know, some of us just don’t feel like we’ve gotten our day started until we complete our skincare/makeup routine. But wearing foundations, powders, and blushes under a mask will seriously increase your likelihood of breaking out.

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Focus on keeping those brows and eyes poppin’, but skip the rest. You’ll save your skin and your wallet.

Keep Up Your Regular Skincare Routine

Ok, so not many people may see your skin when you leave the house anymore, but that doesn’t mean you should give up your regular routine. You should use a gentle cleanser morning and night to remove dirt, oil, and bacteria. And cleansing before you put on your mask will ensure none of those things get trapped on your skin.

Cleansing after you remove your mask will also remove any oil or bacteria accumulation on the skin.

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And even though we’re talking about oil and sweat, this is no time to start skipping the moisturizer. Dry skin is a common issue when wearing a mask, and moisturizing gives you a protective layer that can reduce dryness and irritation.

It’s also a good idea to moisturize your lips before you put on a mask, because dry or chapped lips will only get more irritated from the friction of the fabric against your skin.

Treat Yo’ Self

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Look, even with so many (exciting) vaccine news items lately, don’t expect masks to be going away any time soon. Instead, spend this time focusing on treating your skin with the tender loving care it deserves, so you can wow everyone when our faces finally see the light of day again.

Oh, and treat yourself to a killer mascara in the meantime.

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