What is maskne?

Maskne is the term used on social media for acne caused by mask wearing

Yes even if your skin has been blemish -free, wearing a mask causes blemishes, pimples, zits, (aka acne.)

(I’ve noticed whiteheads or millia around my eyes.)

The technical term for maskne is “acne mechanica,” and is the result of the mechanical friction and pressure of a fabric against the skin.
Sports players often get spots in areas where they wear helmets or chin guards.

So what causes maskne?

A combination of three things:
  • – stress from the pandemic, combined with
  • – breathing into a mask creates hot and humid air inside the mask, ideal environment to grow bacteria and organisms
  • – constant rubbing causes micro-tears, allowing easier entry for bacteria and dirt to clog up our pores

Maskne and wellbeing

Compared with bruises and bleeding from PPE and N95 respirator masks, pimples may seem  trivial. Yet, the effect on self-esteem, mental wellbeing, relationships and perhaps job performance is huge.
Acne sufferers often have anxiety and depression.

Maskne – what not to do

Dermatologists advise against damaging already fragile skin by blasting maskne spots with alpha hydroxy acids, chemical peels or Retin A becasue you’ll end up with dry patches, eczema, stinging, burning, inflammation.

Maskne- what can you do?

1. Wear disposables for one day only. No leaving them hanging in the car or sitting in your handbag or coat pocket. They will soon be infested with acne causing bacteria.
2. Wash your fabric face mask daily using soap and water – let it air dry.  Have enough spares so that you don’t re-use.
3. Choose cotton masks as they allow the skin to breathe.
4. If you exercise or sweat in the day, then take off that mask and put on a fresh and clean one immediately.
5. Use gentle skin care products that don’t strip your skin of it’s protective sebum, or cause undue friction.  Avoid avoid anything with SLS or sodium lauryl sulfate.
6. If your skin is really sore, use your fingers to rinse your cleanser –  no buff puff, no loofa, no washcloth and no scrubby bits.
7. Avoid pore blocking ingredients such as cocoa butter
8. If you wear makeup, avoid oil based foundation – ideally use a mineral sunscreen.
9. Use a light moisturiser in the day and apply it at least 15 minutes before you wear a mask. It will act as a barrier to prevent chafing.
10 Use lip balms or serums to keep your lips protected.
11. Apply your rich moisturiser/night cream in the evening and allow it to repair overnight.
12. Exfoliate once or twice a week with gentle natural jojoba or bamboo spheres.  This will allow your moisturiuser to be better absorbed.

Maskne Tips from Wendy

  • wear cotton or other natural fabrics that ‘breathe’
  • wash and dry your face covering thoroughly
  • skip makeup under the mask
  • use lightweight skincare products – ensure your skin is hydrated to protect against rubbing
  • wash your face with gentle cleanser
  • spot treatments for stubborn spots- some essential oil blends are effective
  • essential oils for acne and blackheads – tea tree, rosemary, lavender, palmarosa
  • witch hazel can be used to dab the spots
  • use rosehip  and tamanu to reduce scarring

K-pop masks

Unlike the West, face masks have been part of Asian culture, for blocking air pollution, protecting against spreading airborne viruses and in 2009, even became a fashion statement for cool Korean teenagers.

Korean teens were only considered cool and mysterious if they wore a ‘Sakun’ face mask.  The brand worn by their most popular  K-pop boys band.  Teens also used masks and long fringes to cover their pimples.