About Face

Battling the breakouts behind the mask

Aesthetics - December 2020 - Living Magazine

By Christi Blevins

As if 2020 hasn’t given us enough to worry about, now our complexions must contend with the dreaded maskne. Maskne is a cutesy name for acne or rashes caused by wearing face masks, but there is nothing cute about it. If it makes you feel any better, the medical term is acne mechanica, which doesn’t even register on the cute meter.

Maskne tends to occur on your chin, cheeks, and across the bridge of your nose. This is not a new phenomenon. Surgeons have dealt with it for years, as have athletes who wear helmets with straps, but COVID-19 has brought it to the masses.

Best practices for avoiding maskne

  • Wear cotton masks when possible. Cloth masks should be washed after every use. You can wash them by hand or toss them in the washing machine.
  • If you wear disposable masks, get a fresh mask at least once a day and do not reuse them.
  • Your mask should be snug, but not overly tight.
  • Take this opportunity to skip the makeup on your chin, cheeks, and nose. You can apply makeup only to the areas not covered by a mask, and no one will be the wiser.

Aesthetics - December 2020 - Living Magazine

Think of your skin as an ecosystem

There’s a lot going on with your skin. Estimates are that one square centimeter of skin plays host to about a million microbes, including good and bad bacteria, yeasts, and fungi. When you wear a mask, you increase the humidity level within that ecosystem, much like a terrarium from an elementary school science class. While a thriving community of organisms is cool in a terrarium, it’s not ideal for your chin. There are some things you can do to keep your skin’s ecosystem in balance.

Be kind to your skin by hydrating inside and out. Drink plenty of water, and don’t skip applying moisturizer. Drinking water is a no-brainer since dehydration can cause dry skin, which can trigger breakouts. Make a conscious effort to up your water intake during the times you aren’t wearing a mask. Applying moisturizer to acne-prone areas may seem counterintuitive, but the right, lightweight moisturizer can provide a shield for the parts of your face covered by a mask.

Make a clean break from breakouts

  • Gently cleanse your face.
  • Apply moisturizer and wait about 10 to 15 minutes before donning a mask.
  • Put on a clean mask. If you must wear a mask for long periods, consider slipping into a fresh mask after a meal.
  • When you remove a mask, clean your face. Many dermatologists recommend keeping facial wipes in your car so you can do a quick swipe as soon as you take off your mask.
  • When selecting products, look for things that are gentle and soothing.
  • Avoid touching your face as much as possible.
  • Don’t forget to change your pillowcase frequently. Everything that comes in contact with your face should be as clean as possible.
  • If these steps aren’t enough, schedule a consultation with a dermatologist and say, “Take that, 2020!”

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