‘Maskne’ 101: How To Tackle It Above And Below The Surface

STELLAR PROMOTION: Skin suffering? Here's a few practical tips...

More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, most of us are used to wearing masks on the daily. While mask-wearing is essential to help prevent the spread of the virus, it isn’t exactly fantastic for your skin. We’ve all seen images of healthcare workers after long shifts in medical-grade masks, their faces red and irritated – and although wearing a cloth face mask causes nowhere near the same level of discomfort, for some, it can lead to a host of skin issues.

Like any item of clothing that sits close to the skin, masks trap moisture and heat, making them an ideal breeding ground for excess oil and bacteria. The friction of the mask against the skin can also cause breakouts, rashes, and irritation, and exacerbate conditions like eczema and psoriasis. These side effects have come to be known as ‘maskne’.

Of course, a few spots are a small price to pay for the chance to protect ourselves and our communities, but you can help yourself by caring for your skin properly as masks look set to stick around for at least the next few months.

Choose the right material

The HSE has advised that cloth face coverings are the type of face coverings most people should wear in public settings. (Medical masks are recommended if you’re high risk, or exposed to COVID-19). If you’re looking to support your skin, get your hands on a reusable cloth face covering. Go for materials like cotton, linen or silk, which are kinder to the skin than synthetic fabrics. Breathability is key if you want to stop breakouts in their tracks.

Prune your skincare routine

To understand how masks can impact the skin, first we need to delve into some Skincare 101. Ever heard of your ‘acid mantle’, also known as the skin’s moisture barrier? It’s the very top layer of your skin, there to fight off environmental aggressors and stop essential moisture from escaping. Signs of a broken barrier include inflammation, dry, flaky skin, and yes, acne.

Masks are obviously a nightmare for the acid mantle, what with all that friction and heat. Many dermatologists have also warned that face coverings can intensify the delivery of your skincare products, which is not ideal when it comes to potent, potentially irritating ingredients like acids or retinol.

To avoid aggravating your skin further, reserve these products for night time or take a break from them completely (similarly, avoid physical scrubs or exfoliants). Streamline your pre-mask routine to a gentle cleanser, serum and moisturiser – look for products with hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides, which replenish the barrier and lock in hydration.

Don’t be tempted to over-cleanse – this can lead to even more dryness, irritation, and redness. Twice a day is enough!

Tackle maskne from within

Not to sound like your parent, but getting your vitamins is important (for your skin as well as the rest of your body)! Vitamin B2 contributes to the maintenance of normal skin. Find it in beef, tofu, milk, fish, mushrooms, pork, spinach, almonds, avocados, and eggs.

If you’re feeling stressed, under the weather or simply not eating healthy foods consistently, consider taking a good-quality supplement specially designed for women. Cleanmarine For Women contains a number of key ingredients including omega 3, vitamin B6 to help regulate hormonal activity and vitamin B2 to support normal skin.

Treat maskne accordingly

Mask-related skin issues are tricky to treat – you have to contend with the continued irritation of the mask, not to mention potential aggravation from your usual products. A careful approach is needed.

One answer to maskne is pimple patches – these clear silicone dots contain spot-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid, and sit over the zit to provide a physical barrier between it and your mask.

If you’re dealing with rashes or patches of irritation, pick up a soothing, occlusive balm to slick over the affected areas. Like the pimple patches, these balms create a barrier that protects the skin, allowing it to heal. You can also apply the balm along the areas where your mask sits before you put it on to ease the friction.

Be strategic with makeup

Face coverings and a full beat do not mix, and we have the brown and pink-stained masks to prove it. But you don’t have to throw the whole makeup bag in the bin – just be clever about it. Lipsticks and glosses are out, but have a balm to hand for the inevitable dry lips. Keep foundation light around the nose and chin (or skip it completely), and choose a skin-friendly mineral foundation where possible. Accept that your base might not be flawless for a while, and use the time to perfect those brows and get really good at your eye makeup. Sure you’re only gorgeous anyway.

Wash your masks regularly

You should be doing this anyway to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, but frequent washing also gets rid of the oil, sweat, and assorted face gunk that collects on your mask. Speaking to the New York Times, Dermatologist Dr Candrice Heath said to treat masks “like underwear” – which, while not the most appealing comparison, is a good one. Wear ‘em, wash ‘em, wear ‘em again.

Cleanmarine For Women is an all in one multivitamin, Omega 3 and phytonutrient supplement designed to support energy levels, healthy skin and hormone balance. Each capsule is packed with Omega-3 with Phospholipids, Vitamins B1, B2, B6 and D3, as well as Rosemary Extract and Soy Isoflavones. Suitable from ages 15-40 years.

Pick up Cleanmarine For Women in pharmacies and health stores nationwide. To learn more visit cleanmarine.ie

Watch our interview with Cleanmarine ambassador Louise Cooney below:


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