Young woman wearing a face mask on gray background. Flu epidemic and virus protection concept

Without a doubt, 2020 has been far from what we were all expecting with the coronavirus pandemic affecting millions of people all over the world.

After spending several months in lockdown, we are now slowly adjusting to a new way of living which includes the mandatory wearing of a face mask or covering while in shops, supermarkets and when using public transport.

Many of us will not be used to wearing a face mask for a prolonged period of time and people are starting to experience issues with their skin underneath the mask. This problem, known as face mask acne or ‘maskne’, is a real problem and today we’re looking at what causes maskne and how you can try and prevent it.

Commuting during a pandemic

What is Maskne?

Maskne is a type of breakout on the skin, which is caused by the constant friction of the mask material on your skin. This type of acne is known as ‘acne mechanica’ and commonly occurs in people wearing masks for a long period of time.

Along with the constant friction on your skin, maskne is also triggered by pores being blocked by sweat, oil, makeup, and bacteria which sits on the skin under your mask. This can cause outbreaks of spots, blemishes, inflamed hair follicles, irritation, and redness.

How Do You Prevent Maskne?

At the moment, wearing a mask is necessary in many situations, so prevention is your best bet when it comes to tackling face mask acne.

The good news is, if you are suffering with maskne or want to prevent it appearing, there are a few things you can try.

Wash & Change Your Mask Regularly

Whether you’ve bought reusable cloth masks or you’ve made them yourself, it is really important to keep your cloth masks clean. Bacteria and dirt will build up over time on a mask, so the last thing you want to do, if you want to avoid irritating your skin, is put a dirty mask back on your face. Aim to wash your mask, on a high heat, after one full day of wear.

If you are wearing disposable masks, replace them as often as possible and avoid touching it directly by putting it on and removing it via the ear straps.

Self-sewn mouth-nose masks against corona viruses hang on the clothesline to dry.

Cleanse Your Skin (Properly) Twice a Day

With dirt, oil, sweat, and bacteria building up on the skin underneath your mask it is essential that you wash your face both before and after wearing a mask if you want to avoid breakouts.

If your skin is already irritated, look out for a gentle cleanser, or if you are prone to acne, look out for a breakout-busting salicylic acid cleanser which helps to keep your pores clear of build-up.

It may be tempting to wash your face more than usual, but we recommend you stick to your regular AM and PM routine so as not to dry out your skin, cause irritation or redness.

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Keep Your Skin Hydrated

It is really important throughout the day to keep your skin as hydrated as possible to help improve your skin's barrier function. Look for supportive ingredients in your daily moisturiser such as ceramides, glycerine and niacinamide to boost your skin’s hydration levels. If you feel your skin needs something extra, you can add a facial spray between each level of skincare or use one to top up your moisture levels throughout the day.

Adopt a Minimal Makeup Look

Your pores are already fighting off sweat and bacteria under your mask, don’t add makeup into the mix too! If you are taking your mask on and off throughout the day and want some sort of coverage, then a tinted moisturiser or BB cream is a good compromise.

As half of your face will be covered up with a mask, why not focus all of your attention on your eyes with beautiful eye makeup to draw attention to them?