While COVID-19 masks have become an essential wardrobe accessory, they may begin to present more issues than just clashing with your outfit as we move into warmer weather. If you’ve seen an uptick in acne and other skin related issues, you’re not alone. In fact, the problem is so prevalent that it has birthed a new term in our modern vernacular — “maskne”. Users everywhere are experiencing troubling and frequent breakouts on the lower half of their faces, and it’s caused by COVID-19 masks.
Because face masks are in constant contact with your skin, they tend to trap dirt and bacteria. Couple that with summer heat and humidity, and your skin has a recipe for disaster. Moreover, excessive friction can irritate your skin, and when it comes to washable masks, harsh detergents may be to blame for unwanted breakouts.
Wear A Clean Mask
Unfortunately, forgoing a mask is not in the cards quite yet, but there are steps you can take to save your skin.
While the CDC continues to recommend that N95 face masks be reserved for health care workers, they have also insisted that cloth face masks are effective in slowing the spread of the virus. In the early days of the pandemic, masks of any kind were hard to come by. Since then, manufacturers have been able to rebound and now it seems that masks are widely available, with some major retailers even managing to keep them in stock.
While there are plenty of options on the market, you may want to choose a mask that is lightweight and breathable. To that end, cotton is best. Smart Air, a company that makes air filters, recently conducted a study where they compared the efficacy of different fabrics for face masks. The results indicate that cotton offers the best balance of breathability and protection.
Use Fragrance-Free Laundry Detergent
The CDC has indicated that machine washing should be enough when it comes to keeping your mask clean. Ideally, you’ll want to launder your mask after each use to remove the dirt, oil, and bacteria that was transferred to it. But, when you throw your mask into the washer, keep in mind that fragrances and harsh chemicals in laundry detergents can also irritate your skin, causing more breakouts. Instead, opt for a mild soap or fragrance-free detergent when laundering.
This next one may be difficult, but...
Skip The Makeup
No, this isn’t a cruel joke. Primers, concealers, and foundations can get trapped under your mask and clog pores. And clogged pores lead to — you guessed it — acne. So while makeup under your mask is not recommended, how about focusing your efforts elsewhere? Perhaps now is a good time to play up those eyes?
Apply A Moisturizer
While concealers and foundations are not recommended, the opposite is true for moisturizers. Not only is hydration crucial for healthy skin, but moisturizers also act as a barrier between the mask and your skin. Moisturizers can also help reduce the friction that leads to redness and inflammation.
Wash Your Face Before And After
We’ve already established that maskne is caused by dirt, oil, and bacteria getting trapped under the contact points of your mask. So, it would stand to reason that washing your face before and after wearing your mask would help keep acne flare-ups under control.
The truth is, we’re not yet out of the woods, and wearing a face mask is still a crucial part of keeping the COVID-19 virus in check. It looks like masks will be an essential accessory for the foreseeable future, and the summer months ahead of us may not be super comfortable. The good news is there are things you can do to minimize breakouts and prevent further skin damage.