While wearing face masks has become a regular part of our day-to-day lives, one thing that is more difficult to get used to is the acne that sometimes accompanies it. Good news. There’s no reason you should have to.
MadeMan has tips for avoiding what has been coined maskne — acne breakouts that result from wearing a face mask.
In order to understand maskne, it is helpful to have a grasp of what acne is and what causes it.
Acne is a skin condition that typically occurs on areas of skin with the most sebaceous glands, one of these locations being the face. Typically acne bacteria will feed on whatever is clogging the follicle, multiply, and lead to irritation of the skin, prompting redness and swelling.
Acne can be produced as well at different levels of severity. If the follicle wall bulges and the pore remain closed, a whitehead will be produced. If the plug is open to the surface, it may darken and cause a blackhead. Small red bumps on the skin are called papules, while papules with pus at the tips are called pustules.
The most severe form of acne is called cystic acne. This acne develops when bacteria, dry skin cells, and sebum get trapped in your pores and form a cyst deep beneath your skin. Cystic lesions are typically accompanied by symptoms that include tenderness and puss.
There are several potential triggers for acne. One of the most common is hormonal changes. Androgens are hormones that contribute to growth in men that first increase during puberty. The increase of this hormone prompts sebaceous glands to enlarge and for the rate of sebum production to increase. All this additional sebum can lead to clogging and, as you know, acne.
Another common trigger is diet. Although there is not enough research available to determine whether changing one’s diet can help those struggling with acne heal blemishes, studies suggest that overconsumption of certain foods like dairy products or harsh ingredients rich in carbohydrates may cause acne, especially blackheads and whiteheads to worsen. Additionally, a healthy diet containing vitamins and nutrients is proven to help support your skin’s overall wellness.
One more trigger that is often identified as the culprit of worsening acne is stress. Consistently experiencing high levels of stress will increase the levels of stress-related hormones. This then causes the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum faster. The sebum then mixes with dead skin cells and will lead to acne.
One of the most convincing reasons to prevent and treat your acne is the implications that it can leave behind. Most commonly, acne will cause scars and discoloration.
Typically, individuals with darker skin tones will have a higher risk of hyperpigmentation, which is brown and grey patches of pigmentation. Meanwhile, those with lighter skin will be left to deal with hypopigmentation, which is pink and purple spots of pigmentation.
You are more at risk of developing acne if you are experiencing hormonal changes, it runs in your family, your skin is exposed to too much oil or sweat, or there is an excess amount of friction or pressure on your skin.
Speaking of pressure and friction, let’s move on to our next topic.
Just like with non-mask induced acne, maskne is typically the result of clogged pores simply exacerbated by the material worn over your face.
Masks can exacerbate the development of acne in other ways, too. For example, due to all the breathing and sweating that goes on beneath your mask, trapped humidity may promote the formation of pimples. Additionally, your skin may prove to be sensitive to the material of your mask or the products you use to wash your mask, resulting in irritation.
Perhaps the biggest cause of muscle is the friction from the face-covering pressing against your skin. This action may lead to a type of acne called acne mechanica.
Acne mechanica develops when the skin is repeatedly exposed to friction and occurs when the skin is rubbed, such as when your mask rubs against your face.
Differently from other forms of acne, acne mechanica is not caused by something internal or something happening within your body but rather by an external force. The inflammatory lesions come from an exposure to friction from the material being worn consistently on the face.
You can’t stop your mask-wearing habits altogether, so how can you prevent maskne from developing on your face on even lips while also staying safe?
Disposable vs Reusable
If you are wearing disposable masks, make sure to toss them after every use. Disposable masks are just that, disposable. They are not intended for reuse and should always be replaced.
We strongly recommend keeping extra face masks around just in case you ever need one. Store them in your glove compartment, on your desk at work, and even in your gym bag.
If you choose to sport reusable masks, make sure to wash them after every use. Do not use any scented products and ingredients when you wash and dry your masks. This may irritate your skin.
For additional safety, use hypoallergenic detergent. Then, let your face mask dry completely before wearing it.
If you are still developing maskne even after taking these precautions, the culprit may be the cloth itself. It is possible for your skin to be sensitive to certain materials like synthetic fabrics, so try finding something that your skin does not respond poorly to.
Your best bet is a face mask made from a soft and natural fabric that has at least two layers and fits nicely but is not tight.
Remember, one of the main causes of acne is bacteria becoming clogged in your hair follicles. Because it is so common for bacteria and dirt to build on your mask that your skin is likely to become irritated if left unprotected.
One of the easiest ways to prevent this bacteria from turning into pimples is to provide your sensitive skin with a layer of protection. This layer of protection can come conveniently in the form of your moisturizer. When selecting the right fragrance-free moisturizer for the job, there are a couple of features to consider prioritizing.
You may want to look into a non-comedogenic moisturizer. When a skincare product is labeled non-comedogenic, this means that it was specifically formulated not to be the cause of clogged pores. This will ensure that, while your moisturizer does its job of keeping bacteria out, it does not fall into the trap of blocking the hair follicles.
Another great option is to use a moisturizer that doubles as an antibiotic. There are several topical antibiotic creams, moisturizers, and lotions on the market. Since antibiotics are a type of antimicrobial substance that fights off bacteria, applying a layer of your antibiotic product before wearing your mask can help keep your skin protected.
For your convenience, we also suggest considering The Re(Set) Collection, a complete two-step solution that delivers clearer, more attractive skin. The collection contains a moisturizer and a cleanser that will come in great handy for maintaining your skin’s health while wearing a mask. Upon returning home and removing your mask, wash your face with a gentle cleanser.
The cleanser, called The Resetter, provides you with a champion cleanse that is deep but gentle and eliminates impurities from your pores. The moisturizer, called The Refresher, is an antioxidant blend that uses complex nutrients to restore and repair your skin.
Together, the duo acts as a protectant for your skin barrier and will have you saying goodbye to acne-prone clogged pores, even from beneath your cloth masks.
Give It A Break
Finally, you want to remember to give your skin the chance to breathe every once in a while. We understand that this is not a viable option for everyone, but if possible, it is suggested that you remove your mask approximately every four hours and give your skin a 15-minute break.
You may be busy and on the go, so know that you can multitask, even with a quick skin care routine. For example, your mask break can double as your lunch break!
MadeMan is here to support any man seeking to take control of his life and looks. We understand the frustration that may come with being unable to control the world around you, but your ability to adapt and thrive makes you better than the rest.
By implementing a few minor changes to your skincare routine, or daily regime as a whole, we assure you that you will be able to continue to wear your mask while also maintaining your appearance. We have provided you with the knowledge you need. It is now up to you whether you use it.
Acne Mechanica | PubMed