How To Treat Maskne: Dermatologist-Approved Products For Face Mask Acne
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, face masks have become a part of everyday life. And though they do play a vital role in stopping the spread of the virus, a very unwelcome side effect of wearing face masks day in and day out is "maske" – the acne and breakouts caused by wearing a mask for prolonged periods of time. While in the grand scheme of things a few pimples may not be a big deal, maskne doesn’t do wonders for one’s self esteem, so we're offering some advice on how to treat it.
We’ve already explained what causes maskne and tips on how to prevent it, but if you're struggling with breakouts, these product recommendations and treatments can help.
Face masks may not be going anywhere anytime soon, but hopefully your maskne will be.
1/6 Wash your mask
It may sound obvious, but if you're wearing a re-usable mask, make sure to wash it every day to eliminate bacteria build up.
Skincare expert, aesthetic nurse injector and registered nurse Kristina Kitsos, explains that "you can wash it [your face mask] in the sink by hand and have it dry out for the next day. Any shampoo or mild detergent will work and make a huge difference.”
If you're using medical masks, be sure to not re-use these and wear a clean one every day.
See also: 5 Eco-Friendly Protective Face Masks
2/6 Use a gentle cleanser before and after removing your mask
“The thorough removal of oil, dirt, and bacteria from the skin before and after wearing a mask is the best way to reduce the risk for mask-related increased acne breakouts”, states Dr. Yoram Harth, Board Certified Dermatologist and Medical Director of MDacne.
Dr. Rina Allawh, Board-certified dermatologist at Montgomery Dermatology LLC agrees with this, explaining "after removing the mask, using a gentle cleansing wipe (i.e. La Roche Posay Cleansing Wipes, Cetaphil Facial Cleansing Wipes) and/or washing your face with a gentle facial cleanser (i.e. CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser) are helpful ways to remove the excess oil, debris, sweat and dirt from your face.”
Another option for a gentle cleanser that we love for sensitive skin is Fresh's Soy Face Cleanser, which can also remove all traces of make-up.
3/6 Look for products which contain salicylic acid
As well as ensuring you keep both your face and your mask clean, using products which contain salicylic acid can help prevent and treat face mask breakouts.
Dr Viseslav Tonkovic-Capin, MD dermatologist and editor of DermBoard.org has found that “facial pads pre-soaked with 2% salicylic acid are very helpful and relatively inexpensive if used before and after using a mask."
Dr Tonkovic-Capin explains that "salicylic acid (a botanical from the willow tree) will keep pores clean and open. It will prevent the build-up of dirt and skin oil, and it will eliminate acne-causing bacteria (Cutibacterium acnes). Particularly effective are Acne BLU pads because besides salicylic acid, they contain Resveratrol, which is a precious antioxidant from red grapes.”
Another option is Caudalie's Vinopure Clear Skin Purifying Toner, which contains 100% natural salicylic acid. A favourite of ours for its fuss-free application, simply apply with a cotton pad after cleansing morning and night.
Dr. Yoram Harth also suggests using salicylic acid, stating that "if you already have active acne, it is more important now than ever that you stick your acne treatment routine, as good anti-acne skincare will help treat your current active pimples and prevent future mask-related acne breakouts. The best choice would be an acne treatment cream with a low percentage of benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Try to avoid adapalene (Differin) as it is much more irritating than benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.”
4/6 Apply retinol topically
Another skincare secret which can help your skin fight the dreaded maskne is retinol.
Kristina Kitsos suggests using "a retinol product at night two-to-five times per week to increase cell turnover and decrease dead skin cell accumulation".
Dr. Rina Allawh also explains the benefits of incorporating retinol into your skincare routine. “For those who are experiencing more comedonal acne (i.e. black heads and white heads), a topical retinol at bedtime is recommended. It is important to find a topical retinol that is lightweight, non-greasy that provides hydration with the benefits of a pure retinol. A few examples include: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil and CeraVe Renewing Retinol Serum are my top recommendations.”
Remember to use retinol only in your night time skincare routine, as the retinoids break down in sunlight, making them less effective. If you're wanting to try both retinol and salicylic acid, it's also worth noting that they are best used separately, to avoid dryness and skin irritation. As retinol needs to be used in the evening, we suggest using acid products only in the morning, or choosing to use your acid and retinol products on alternative nights.
5/6 Try to avoid make-up or opt for mineral make-up
If you're suffering from face mask acne, you may be tempted to cover it up with make-up, but heavy products such as concealers and foundations can block pores and make maskne harder to treat.
“Try not to wear makeup under the face mask, as it can clog your pores. If you must, though, make it a mineral makeup like glō-minerals, Jane Iredale or bareMinerals powder foundation from one of these brands applied with a powder or kabuki brush is much less likely to clog pores than liquid foundation” states Kristina Kitsos.
Dr. Yoram Harth also suggests opting for mineral-based make-up if you don't want to go bare faced, explaining that "as for makeup, it's best to apply a lighter foundation (preferably mineral-based) than what you would typically use to prevent clogged pores.”
See also: 5 Beauty Habits of Super-Busy Dermatologists
6/6 Don't forget to moisturise
Although many may believe that motorising can lead to oily skin and blocked pores, it's still essential to keep your skin moisturised and hydrated.
Especially when using products with ingredients such as salicylic acid which can be drying, Dr. Yoram Harth explains that "an oil-free moisturiser helps to protect and repair
your skin without clogging your pores. Apply a thin layer of a light, water-based moisturiser underneath your mask.”
Favourite moisturisers of ours include Tatcha's The Water Cream, Sunday Riley's Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream Moisturiser, CeraVe's Facial Moisturizing Lotion and Charlotte Tilbury's new Magic Cream Light.
See also: 5 Cult Favourite Face Masks For Glowing Skin