What is ‘maskne’ and how do you deal with it?

Word: Maskne. Definition: Acne caused by regularly wearing facial masks.

If you live in Melbourne or the Mitchell Shire of Victoria you are now required to wear face coverings in public. In wider Victoria and NSW it’s also strongly recommended.

According to the Australian Government Department of Health, “wearing a mask can help protect you and those around you [from COVID-19] if you are in an area with community transmission, and physical distancing is not possible, like on public transport.”

Translation: if you’ve been told to wear a mask, wear one. Don’t be that guy.

But prolonged mask use can irritate your skin, which is why the word ‘maskne’ has taken off quicker than you can type #isoskin or #wfh.

Maskne is essentially acne that occurs from wearing a mask. So you don’t have to spend your paycheck on a trip to the salon, we’ve reached out to the experts to find out how it occurs and how to stop it:

What causes maskne?

“The synthetic fibres the mask is made from can lead to increased skin perspiration, which then mixes with breath droplets, oil produced by the skin and make-up ingredients,” explains Sarah Hudson, who is an aesthetic practitioner and director of Skin by Sarah Hudson. “This can all become trapped under the mask, especially if it needs to be worn for long periods of time – such as by health care workers – and cause breakouts.”

How to prevent maskne:

“You must follow strict hygiene practices when wearing masks and ensure you change your mask every 4 hours,” says Skin Renu’s clinic practitioner, Sylvia Down. “If you notice any dampness within the mask you should change it immediately, however if you use a reusable mask it’s best to wash it daily for maximum hygiene.

“When you take your mask off it is important to be aware of where you are putting it down, so it does not attract more bacteria to its cloth surface. It is also worth hanging up your mask once you have washed it in the sun to air dry as the UV light will help to kill bacteria.”

Night time skin routine to stop maskne

When it comes to your cleaning routine, Hudson recommends in the evening double cleansing the skin thoroughly for 30-60 seconds to remove perspiration, oil and debris. She recommends looking for a cleanser that contains AHAs to help cleanse and exfoliate the pores.

We recommend: Medik8 Clarifying Foam (buy here) and Société AHA Exfoliating Cleanser (buy here)

“Then three to four times a week apply a deep cleansing charcoal or clay mask,” Hudson adds. “This will help to draw out impurities from the skin. It can double as an overnight, leave-on spot treatment that you apply directly to pimples.”

Hudson recommends: Aspect’s exfoliating clay mask (buy here) and Cosmedix detox activated Charcoal Mask (buy here)

Daytime skin routine to stop maskne:

Hudson suggests using two different face products during the day. “One on the upper cheeks and forehead that is hydrating and protects skin during winter. [We recommend Avène Hydrance Rich Hydrating Cream] The second on the lower cheeks and jawline (where the mask is) should be an oil-free serum that will help to reduce the oily shine and target breakouts on the skin.”

For the serum, Hudson recommends Clearing Complex by Skin by Sarah Hudson.

These are the best reusable masks to buy online. Plus, check out why these are the best selling face masks on Adore Beauty.

Products to help fight a breakout:

“Do not pick or squeeze! For every breakout you squeeze you will grow five friends, causing the breakouts to become worse,” warns Hudson.

“I like to treat the skin of breakouts individually, so the surrounding skin is not disrupted and won’t flake and peel. Target ingredients such as salicylic acid, koalin clays, licorice root all help to reduce the breakout and heal the skin. One of my favourite products is Mesoestetic Imperfection Control (which you can buy here). This can be placed on individual breakouts, and has a slight colour to reduce look of breakouts and can be used by both men and women.”

Another Hudson hot tip: “Apply clay or clearing masks on a cotton tip as an overnight spot treatment, allow to dry then go to bed. The next morning the breakouts will be greatly reduced.”

Make-up to look for:

“If you need to wear a mask for long periods of time, wear as little make-up as possible, apply eye make-up instead,” says Hudson.

If you wear make-up, opt for mineral powders with a zinc oxide base. “Zinc Oxide is helpful in treating skin irritation and acts as a barrier. It is non-comedogenic (oil free and won’t clog pores) plus in an ingredient widely used in sunscreens,” she adds.

Hudson suggests: Curtis Collection Deluxe Mineral Powder Foundation, which you can buy here.

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