- Wearing a mask often can clog your pores and cause acne.
- Skincare experts discourage the use of heavy makeup under your mask.
- A simple skincare routine can help you prevent ‘maskne’ or acne caused by wearing a mask.
Wearing a mask, especially in this hot and humid weather, can contribute to acne and other skin issues. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent maskne or acne caused by wearing a mask.
What causes mask acne?
Clogged pores due to oil, dead skin cell, makeup, or dirt, can result in acne, blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples.
According to Carrie L. Kovarik, M.D., an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the American Association of Dermatology’s (AAD) COVID-19 task force, wearing a mask can prevent the shedding of skin cells throughout the day and cause them to clog your pores. Noelani Gonzalez, M.D., director of cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai, also says that wearing a mask makes a face more humid, which is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
How can you treat mask acne?
If you have a mild case of maskne, you can use over-the-counter acne-fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid exfoliant to unclog your pores, says Dr. Gonzalez. But for inflamed acne or deep, cystic pimples,
anti-inflammatory cortisone creams or retinoid medications are recommended for speedy healing.
However, some of these treatments may irritate, so some dermatologists will recommend waiting until the raw area heals before applying a treatment.
Skincare routine to prevent maskne
To maintain clear skin while wearing a mask, dermatologists recommend practising good mask-wearing hygiene.
First, choose a mask made from breathable fabric like cotton or silk, but also protects others and yourself from coronavirus infection. The mask should fit snugly on your face, covering both your mouth and nose.
The next step is choosing non-comedogenic or oil-free skincare and makeup products. Dr Gonzalez suggests not wearing makeup at all under your mask because they can clog the pores and cause acne, and recommends wearing a moisturizer with at least SPF 30 instead. The sunscreen moisturizer will protect your skin from UV rays, help prevent other mask-related skin issues like tan lines, reduce friction and chafing.
At night, use a mild cleanser to remove all the accumulated debris and oil from your face, and apply a moisturizer to prevent dryness. Kovarik recommends using a moisturizer with ceramide and hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture and provide hydration to your skin. Dr. Gonzales warns against using harsh chemical peels that may make the skin more sensitive and prone to breakouts.
Washing your mask
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing cloth masks with warm water and mild detergent after each use to remove the accumulated oils and dead skin. Dr. Kovarik recommends using a detergent without colors and fragrances to avoid skin irritation.
Other mask-related skin issues
Dr. Kovarik also reminds caring for the lips, which is the first thing that your mask touches. She recommends using a lip balm or petroleum jelly to protect them. Face masks may also trigger skin irritation in people with rosacea or eczema, so talk to your doctor for treatment plans.