2020 feels like a bizarre rollercoaster ride. It's been full of unexpected challenges, from toilet paper shortages to TikTok binges. One of the challenges that affect many of us has to be….you guessed it, acne caused by safety masks.
At first, maskne may sound like a small issue that's fun to pronounce. However, as masks continue to be a part of our day-to-day activities, maskne turns into a prevalent concern for many. It is not only for teenagers but also for adults who have never suffered from acne or have stopped breaking out years ago. Safety masks have led to noticeable acne flare-ups.
What is maskne? And how it became a THING?
Maskne - or in terms, 'acne mechanica' refers to pimples and irritation brought on by wearing face masks for a prolonged period.
Wearing a mask is tough on the skin. The constant rubbing of the fabric against the skin causes microtears, creating easy entry points for bacteria. Add to that the humidity caused by a warm breath, dirt, and sweat build-up, and you have the perfect recipe for a skin condition disaster.
Placement of the safety mask causes bacterial growth and inflammation around the chin, cheeks, and under the chin. What's worse is that the continued friction and discomfort makes our skin itchier. This makes us more prone to touching our faces and exposing us to a new swarm of bacteria. What else can worsen maskne?
Yes, you guessed it: stress makes maskne worse
We should not forget the stress we have been collectively experiencing since the beginning of 2020. Whether that be exhaustion from being trapped inside your home or because you've had to go through some significant life changes, the stress levels and anxiety are inevitable.
Cortisol - a stress hormone, drives up oil production in our skin, making us more prone to clogged pores, and consequently, breakouts. It also weakens our immunity system making it difficult to fight against bacteria and inflammation.
We're creating the perfect acne paradise conditions underneath our face coverings.
But does that mean that we should abandon face masks altogether? Absolutely not - we still need to do our part to keep ourselves and society safe.
Do not worry. Prevention and treatment of maskne is possible. Here are a few tips that helped us in defending bumpy enemies at its feat.
Wash your mask after every use
While one-time use masks may not be the most environmentally-friendly option, their one-time use contributes to decreasing breakouts. If you don't want to go that route, get yourself multiple cute cloth masks and wash them after every use. This way, you can change it up while keeping your skin clean.
Try detergent predicted for bay clothes – they clean effectively but are very gentle on the skin.
Try your best not to talk when wearing a mask
One of the greatest acne culprits is our breath. When you speak with a mask on, exhaled air gets trapped under the mask, making it more humid under the covering with every word we speak.
The heat from our bodies together with the moisture, enlarges pores, making it easier to clog while serving as an excellent breeding ground for bacteria. And as we all know, clogged pores + bacteria are a standard recipe for a pimple.
Clean your face
This is a no-brainer. While we may not be able to go mask-free just yet, we have to make sure our skin is clean whenever we are not wearing a mask. Always cleanse your face after coming back home if you have worn a mask.
Spicing up your skincare regime
Thick, rich moisturizers and sunscreens can constrict your skin even further. Even if you have dry skin, the warmth and humidity from the breath can add to your skin's moisture levels. And a light layer of moisturizer will act as a protective barrier against chafing.
Add gently exfoliating acids into a daily routine
Salicylic acid is a BHA exfoliant that helps clean the pores from within, preventing breakouts. Thanks to the beauty- heavens, nowadays, the formulation of anti-acne cosmetics is effective but gentler than ever. So do not be afraid to include BHAs into your routine.
Invest in LED light home therapy devices
LED light therapy is growing in popularity as an acne treatment solution. And for a good reason. By utilizing different wavelengths, properly selected LED light treats your skin non-invasively.
Blue LED light (415 nm) is proven to kill acne-causing bacteria and speed up acne's healing. Not only by wiping out microorganisms from the skin but also by reducing the oil production.
If combine dwith other light lengths, such as red (630 nm), it positively affects mitochondria and seeds up the skin turnover.
FDA cleared LED light home devices, such as the ones from DemarkQ, are effective and safe to use at home for everybody, regardless of their age.
The LED light therapy is so gentle and can be safely combined with salicylic acid treatment or other popular acne treatments like benzoyl peroxide. Also, it doesn't make your skin more sensitive to chafing because it has little to no side effects.
With everything happening around the world, it's understandable that maskne can be physically uncomfortable and emotionally exhausting.
However, besides sticking to diligent treatment and prevention, it's important to remember to be kind to ourselves. This year has been challenging enough, and stressing over acne can worsen your skin condition even further.
We can all adjust our skin care and hope that maskne and other uninvited obstacles of 2020 will pass soon.