Facial masks have quickly become the new norm in Australia and across the world to help minimise the spread of a little virus known unaffectionately as COVID-19. However, whilst an extremely necessary ally in flattening the curve, they seem to be doing a little more harm than good to our skin, causing major congestion to our complexions [translation = acne]. Yep, that’s right, as if 2020 wasn’t challenging enough, we’re being transported back to our early teenage days.
So what exactly is mask-ne, why are we getting it and most importantly, what can we do to get rid of it?
“Maskne is very much like acne mechanica,” explains Zoe Devine, a Skinstitut Expert. “It’s the result of environmental factors that are exacerbated by friction, heat or pressure. Wearing a facial mask can create the ideal environment for acne mechanica to form as the warm moist air is trapped under the mask and the friction can cause clogged pores and breakouts.”
How to prevent Mask-ne
“You must follow strict hygiene practices when wearing masks and ensure you change your mask every 4 hours,” advises 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. If you wear a mask for a long period of time at work, washing your face with a clean face towel and reapplying your moisturiser regularly will help to avoid bacteria build up during the day.”
Shit, I already have it. How do I treat it?
Aesthetics Rx Expert, Nicola Kropach says ‘“A gentle cleanser is critical to remove excess oil and perspiration on the skin. It is important to keep the surface of the skin clean, without causing any additional stress with harsh surfactants and fragrances that can strip and irritate the skins delicate balance of oil and moisture. The use of Salicylic acid is recommended to gently exfoliate and help purify deeper into the pores breaking down sebum, grime and dead skin cells that may lead to the congestion and bacterial overgrowth. It is also important to reinforce the skins protective barrier function with a moisturiser to help combat damage on the surface of the skin from constant pressure, chaffing and rubbing which can compromise the skins ability to protect and maintain itself making it vulnerable, especially to bacteria.