Dealing with spots and breakouts daily is no fun at the best of times. But with mask-wearing mandatory in the UAE, as we continue to battle the spread of coronavirus, there’s been a huge increase in the number of people suffering from acne as a direct result of wearing face-coverings.
Dubbed Maskne or Macne, it appears as pimples or small whiteheads on the areas of your face that the mask touches, namely the jawline, chin, nose and cheeks, and can affect all skin types.
“Any fabric that rubs against your skin may lead to friction and irritation, which leads to the breakdown of the skin’s barrier,’ says Rebecca Treston, Skincare Expert at Dubai London Clinic. ‘The barrier is the skin’s outermost layer that shields its deeper levels from external aggressors while keeping moisture locked in. When the barrier layer is compromised, irritation can occur – including a specific type of acne, known as acne mechanica – or as many people are now calling it right now, maskne.”
Regardless of the material that the mask is made of, oil, sweat, dirt and make-up can build up under the fabric, which breeds bacteria and can lead to clogged pores, pimples and rashes, especially in areas where the mask comes into direct contact with the skin. “Hygiene is vitally important at this time, not only regarding the spread of the virus but with regards to the health of your skin,’ says Dr Shadan Naji, Dermatologist at Dubai’s Dr. Kayle Clinic. ‘Make sure you are not wearing the same mask constantly. Disposable masks should be worn just once and changed throughout the day if you need to wear one for extended periods of time. If you prefer wearing a non-disposable mask, make sure you wash it between each wear.”
5 WAYS TO BATTLE MASK-RELATED BREAKOUTS
1. Consider the fabric of your mask
Avoid synthetic materials if you can and choose a mask made of soft, natural fabric like cotton or silk. “Trapping your own breath under your mask creates a warm, moist environment, which makes the skin susceptible to irritation,’ explains Rebecca. ‘Silk face masks create as little friction as possible against the skin, and can minimize the chance of breakouts.” Try Sleep In Beauty’s machine-washable silk face masks, which are made right here in the UAE from the finest Mulberry silk, and come in three super-elegant colours.
2. Take the softly-softly approach with skincare
“Keep your skin routine simple – but make sure it’s thorough,’ says Dr. Shadan. ‘Following a proper regime of cleanse, tone and moisturise twice a day is essential to keep the skin healthy and remove debris from the skin morning and evening.” But being kind to your skin is paramount, so ditch any strong cleansers for now. “Harsh facial cleansers can disrupt the outer skin layer, leading to dryness and inflammation. This makes it more likely that you’ll develop irritation from wearing a face mask,’ explains Rebecca. ‘If you’re experiencing breakouts already, add salicylic acid to your routine. A cleanser that contains salicylic acid is great as it cleans deep inside your pores to reduce excessive oil and sebum, which helps pimples clear more quickly, as well as having anti-inflammatory benefits. Or try a sulphur-based face wash, which can kill acne bacteria without exacerbating irritation. Steer clear of any intense exfoliants like scrubs and acid peels, and cleanse your face as soon as you get home to remove the build-up of the day’s oil and dirt.”
3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
“Maintaining your skin’s barrier is key when you’re wearing a mask, so ensuring your skin is optimally hydrated is vital,’ says Pastels Salon’s Edwige Gandin. ‘Choose a daily moisturiser that is fragrance and oil-free and non-comedogenic, which means it won’t clog your pores. Products that contain jojoba, squalene and ceramide help to repair the barrier, and adding hyaluronic acid serums replenish lost hydration. If you’re experiencing irritation, add extra moisturizer or a barrier cream to the areas that get too much friction from your mask. Finally, drink as much water as you can. When your skin is dehydrated, it can kick start inflammation and release a hormone that tells your sebaceous glands to produce more oil and your skin cells not to shed — which causes pores to clog.”
4. Give your makeup some time off:
“It’s a good idea to let your skin breathe when wearing a mask out and about,’ says Rebecca. ‘Make-up can rub against the fabric of the mask and cause further occlusion of oil glands and pores, potentially making breakouts worse. So ditch foundation and powder, and instead focus on making up your eyes instead, which are really the only part of your face that can be seen. A cool eye shadow, a gorgeous set of lashes or a statement brow allow you to still play with make-up while maximizing essential non-verbal communication cues”
5. Show your masks some TLC too
“Wash your fabric face masks with fragrance-free laundry detergent,’ advises Edwige. ‘Fragrance in regular detergents can be irritating, so you definitely don’t want it on your face.” Look out for specialist washing liquids designed for babies or sensitive skins instead, wash your mask after every use, and air dry them on a flat surface to help them last longer.