4 Step Guide for Treating Maskne Learning to live with COVID19 doesn't mean we have to live with Maskne.

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As we adapt to the new normal of learning to live with COVID19, maskne may no longer be a temporary skin concern. Here’s our guide on what causes maskne, how to prevent and treat maskne, and which masks to wear.

What is maskne?

Maskne is more than just a clever amalgamation of ‘mask’ and ‘acne.’ It’s actually a skin condition called acne mechanica, in which some sort of mechanical action such as rubbing, pressure, and friction, either causes breakouts or exacerbates a pre-existing condition. It’s quite commonly experienced by people who are required to wear a mask for their occupation, like pathologists and nurses.

What causes maskne?

When we wear masks for long periods of time, and especially when we exercise, your mask acts like a blanket, trapping heat underneath and creating a humid micro-environment. This disrupts the delicate balance of our skin’s natural oils, and excess oil from makeup, naturally occurring bacteria, and bacteria from our breath become embedded in our pores causing congestion and inflammation.

Maskne is frustrating and sometimes painful, and in a post-pandemic world where mask wearing is still often mandatory, maskne is quickly becoming something we need to address in our daily skin care routine. The good news is that there are ways to treat it proactively to reduce breakouts, unblock pores, and soothe active breakouts.

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4 steps for treating and preventing 1. Wear a fitted mask made from natural fibres

The best masks to prevent maskne are masks made from natural textiles, rather than synthetic ones. Synthetic fabrics, like nylon and polyester, are actually plastic. Not only are they not sustainable, but they trap heat and cause a build-up of condensation contaminated with dirt and bacteria, which is what we’re trying to avoid. 

Natural fibres are softer and allow your skin to breathe, while still preventing transmission. Some natural fibres even contain their own natural antibacterial properties, like bamboo, and may even offer extra protection. So whether you’re buying or DIY-ing a face mask, opt for a natural fabric like cotton, linen or hemp.

The shape and fit of your mask may also be contributing to maskne. If your mask is too small or restrictive across certain parts of your face, this will cerate more friction and pressure on your skin. On the other hand, if your mask is too big, it won’t provide you with adequate protection. Go for the Goldilocks of masks, one that follows the contour of your face and fits you just right.

Step 2. Cleanse and wash after every wear

A lot of people don’t realise how important it is to wash your mask and your face after use, especially if you’re exercising, wearing makeup, or wearing your mask for long periods of time.

Cleaning your mask after each use is really important in preventing the spread of the virus, but the detergent you use can also play a role in exacerbating maskne. Detergents with harsh chemicals can cause fabric to shrink, break and become scratchy – the last thing you want on your face! So opt for a natural detergent or soap, and use a gentle machine wash or hand wash.

When practical, you should also cleanse your face straight after wearing a mask to immediately remove any bacteria and excess dirt. Acne is an inflammatory response by the skin, so you need to use a natural cleanser that balances your skin’s natural oils, rather than disrupts them and causes further irritation, like this soap free Facewash bar for Oily Skin by NueBar.

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Step 3. Don't scrub, detox.

Often our first instinct is to reach for the exfoliating scrub at the onset of a breakout. But scrubbing your skin can actually do more harm than good, as the exfoliating particles can tear your skin, polishing off your skin’s natural barrier, causing irritation and inflammation. Instead, opt for a detoxifying face mask to draw out any impurities already embedded in your pores, like this Green Detox Mask by Cannabella, which uses hemp seed powder to soothe inflammation while delivering powerful antioxidants. It’s like a green superfood smoothie for your face!

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Step 4.  Use a face serum targeted to treating acne

When experiencing congestion, it’s important to use a lightweight, non-comedogenic serum, that’s readily absorbed and won’t block your pores. Serums have an advantage over moisturisers in that they emulate the skin’s natural oils that form the protective barrier, so they retain moisture better. They also lubricate the pores, making it easier to clear congestion once it forms. 

To prevent blocked pores becoming inflamed, opt for a soothing serum with antibacterial properties like the Clarify Serum, which contains sandalwood, chlorophyll and plant-based squalene to replenish your natural oil barrier, soothe redness and reduce breakouts.  

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Other Tips to Try

Try to avoid wearing makeup under your mask. Excess oil from makeup can easily become embedded in your pores when they are covered with a mask, so try to go al-natural as often as you can.   

Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated will help your skin flush out impurities, maintain a healthy immune and anti-inflammatory response, and facilitate healthy cell function.  

Maintain good oral hygiene. Remember, bacteria from our breath is also being trapped under your mask. Good oral hygiene practices that prevent the build-up of harmful bacteria in your mouth, can also prevent harmful bacteria from coming into contacting your skin. So keep ‘em clean. This means daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash. Check out our range of natural dental care products here.