When I first heard the term ‘maskne’ I thought ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’! Do we need to have a trend name for everything and surely this is just a marketing ploy to re-market the products we already use, however maskne is suddenly very real to me!
I’m lucky that I work from home and have done since before Covid, so the amount of time I spend wearing a mask is minimal compared to those who work in hospitals, schools, offices and having to take public transport. Aside from buying essentials from my local farm shop and going to Tesco for my click and collect order, I am pretty much mask free. The longest period of time I spent with a mask was during a hospital appointment before the November lockdown and having to speak for an extended period with a mask on was actually quite challenging (who knew how much we relied on lip reading), and was uncomfortable to say the least. It seems like a trivial thing to some, but I sympathise hugely with those who have to wear them all day long and imagine that you have also experienced some form of ‘maskne’ too.
It started a few weeks ago, before Christmas when I noticed a few breakouts around my mouth and along my cheek where the top of my mask sits. I ran all my masks through the washing machine to ensure they were clean and that it wasn’t caused by any germs or bacteria that I could easily clean away. After a few weeks I have now noticed that even when wearing my mask for a short amount of time I get a lot of irritation around my nose which is almost like a blister now.
I washed my masks without fabric softener and used the same washing detergent I always use, so in theory this shouldn’t be causing any issues, but obviously we aren’t used to wearing our clothes on our faces so you never know!!
Everyone has breakouts so this isn’t unusual, but I don’t tend to break out that often, especially with lockdown/quarantine/social distancing all the 2020 things (!) I have barely worn any make up at all, so I know for sure that it’s my mask causing this.
I’ve done a lot of research and have found some great silk masks which I had wanted to buy back in March, but wasn’t sure if the mask situation was going to continue on for long (those were the days… so naive!), and have also found a few reasons why maskne might be worsened, so I know what to avoid!
Don’t breathe heavily into your mask
You might be thinking what the hell are you talking about but I actually do this all the time. I’m always cold and my face and nose get particularly cold during the winter so I have found myself breathing into my mask to warm my face. I didn’t think much about why that could be bad and in those moments I’m so happy to have a warm nose I didn’t give it much thought. By doing this you’re essentially just filling up your mask with damp warm air which is now sitting inside your mask and on your skin. Damp air is going to dry your skin out obviously, but even if you’re healthy and well, the bacteria and germs in your breath aren’t exactly going to do wonders for your complexion. If you are a culprit for breathing into your mask for warmth – stop it immediately!
Wash your mask regularly
It goes without saying that a clean mask is going to be better for your skin than a mask which has been worm multiple times. You wouldn’t wash or dry your face with a dirty cloth, so why let one sit against you skin for a number of minutes or more? It’s hard to remember to keep on top of cleaning your mask, especially because we have to wear them so regularly, however I just try to pop mine in the wash whenever I’m putting a load on and as they’re so small they tend to dry pretty quickly and I know that even if I’ve forgotten to wash it for a week or so that it’s going to be cleaner than forgetting completely! Let’s face it, no-one’s doing a dedicated face mask wash!
Have more than one mask
If you haven’t had the chance to give your mask a wash, it’s still wet or you think it could be dirty (dropped it accidentally, chucked it in a bag against things you’ve just purchased etc), then it’s not worth the risk by putting it back on your most sensitive skin. Every time you touch your mask you’re exposing it to germs and bacteria and if you’re being careful not to touch your face before washing your hands, using a dirty mask is very counterintuitive.
Wash your face as soon as you can after wearing a mask
Just being outside or in public places at the moment makes my skin crawl, so typically I wash my hands and face as soon as i’m home anyway, but if you don’t tend to do this then I highly recommend doing so. The sooner you can cleanse and treat your skin, the less time the germs and bacteria are on your skin. Using your skincare will also help to combat any lurking maskne by treating it with products like La Roche-Posey’s Effaclar Duo, which fights against breakouts and then using a good moisturiser like The Ordinary’s Natural Moisturising Factors. This way you’re fighting breakouts and re-introducing moisture to the skin before it’s even had time to react or dry out.
Invest in a silk mask
As I mentioned before, silk masks seem like the obvious choice when it comes to skincare. I’m not convinced of their integrity when it comes to virus protection and I’m certainly not able to comment on that, but I have ordered one and intend to wear it under my normal mask so that I have silk against my skin, but the added protection of my more structured and protective face mask.
Maskne is not something to be embarrassed about, it’s happening to most of us right now! But it’s something that you can stay on top of and manage. If things get really bad or you think you’re reaction is worse than others talk to your pharmacist who will be able to recommend the best topical solutions for you. When I’ve had reactions in the past I’ve always reached out for Eucerin 5% Urea cream (I swear by this for eczema and skin reactions) and La Roche-Posey’s Cicaplast. Both of these were confirmed as good choices by my pharmacist so may be a good place for you to start, however always check with a professional before use.