Got Maskne? Here Are the 7 Products We're Reaching For

Hannah wearing maskHannah wearing mask

First things first: putting on a face mask when you leave the house during coronavirus times is necessary.

It's also OK not to love how wearing one for the greater good affects your skin, even if it is the definition of a first world problem.

Front line healthcare workers have been experiencing it for months, but now the rest of us are masking up, questions about 'maskne' and 'mask skin' are popping up in just about every beauty Facebook group I'm in.

Yes, a colony of pimples or roscasea flare ups are very small prices to pay for keeping everyone safe and stopping the spread, but that doesn't mean they can't affect your confidence, too.

So, I asked a dermatologist to weigh in. From exactly why your skin might not be enjoying wearing a face mask, to the best products that can help, here's everything you need to know about maskne.

We go deep on all things maskne in this episode of the Beauty IQ Uncensored podcast, get it in your ears below!

What Is Maskne and Mask Skin?

In short, maskne or mask skin are completely non-scientific terms for what happens when your skin becomes irritated from wearing a surgical face mask for long periods of time.

Say, during a pandemic.

"Wearing a mask regularly may contribute to dermatological conditions such as acne, rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis and contact dermatitis," dermatologist and senior conjoint lecturer at UNSW Dr Deshan Sebaratnam explains.

Why Is My Face Mask Giving Me Pimples?

Dr Sebaratnam says "tight masks may lead to occlusion (blockage) of the pores, creating an environment that promotes the development of acne."

The most common places people are finding blemishes are on the cheeks, chin and around the mouth. It makes sense when you think about the warm, moist air from your own breath trapped under your mask. Yum.

Mask SkinMask Skin

Face Masks and Rosacea - What's the Deal?

If you've had rosacea flare ups in the past, there's a decent chance you might be experiencing them again if you're wearing face masks daily.

Dr Sebaratnam sees two really common forms of rosacea in his work that may be affected by wearing masks: papulopustular rosacea and erythematotelangiectatic rosacea.

"Papulopustular rosacea causes pimples and small bumps on the skin. Tight masks may contribute to these pimples because of occlusion of the pores as described above."

"Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea causes redness, flushing and broken blood vessels on the skin. Heat can contribute to this process."

What About Face Masks and Dermatitis?

Again, there are a couple different types of dermatitis (inflammation within the epidermis a.k.a. the top layer of the skin) that don't play well with face masks.

The first is seborrheic dermatitis, which is caused by an imbalance of a yeast called Malassezia, a part of the normal flora of the skin.

"Anything which disturbs the natural balance of the skin (such as wearing a mask) may contribute to seborrheic dermatitis," Dr Sebaratnam says.

Then, there's allergic contact dermatitis - something you may have come across already on your hands if you're required to wear gloves in your workplace.

"Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by a heightened sensitivity to a particular chemical by an individual's immune system. Molecules from a mask such as dyes, glues or fragrances may leach from masks and penetrate the skin leading to contact dermatitis - a moist environment and long periods of contact contribute to this , too."

Side note - watch beauty influencer Iain Jeffery share his acne skincare routine in the YouTube video below!

Tips for Acne, Rosacea and Dermatitis Flare Ups From Wearing Face Masks.

The fact is, face masks aren't going anywhere soon.

But if your face is throwing a tantrum from wearing them regularly, there are a few things you can do to get it to calm the eff down:

  • Take regular breaks from wearing your mask when it is safe to do so - "The American Academy of Dermatology have recommended taking a 15-minute break every four hours."

  • Include gentle cleansers and gentle active ingredients like salicylic acid or niacinamide into your routine to help keep your skin in good condition.

  • Wear less (or no) makeup if you're wearing a mask as makeup can block pores, which is compounded by the masks.

  • Change your mask if you notice any dampness, and wash reusable masks daily for maximum hygiene.

  • Be mindful of where you're putting your mask down when you're not wearing it a.k.a not on your desk or in your handbag.

  • When you get home, wash your face and apply skincare as soon as you can.

Best Skincare Products for Mask Skin.

Keep scrolling for seven products that can help you with pimples, acne, rosacea flare ups or dermatitis from wearing face masks.

P.S. You won't need all of these - have a look to see which product will work best for your skin and skincare routine.

1. SENSORI+ Freshield Mask Sanitiser.

You know it's 2020 when we're talking about mask sanitiser. But the SENSORI+ FRESHIELD MASK SANITISER 30ml is a genius product.

To help keep your mask sanitised throughout the day (note: mask sano doesn't replace mask washing), this spray formula contains 75 per cent sugar cane distilled alcohol in line with World Health Organisation standards to kills 99.9 per cent of bacteria.

Even better, it's also got salicylic acid to help treat and prevent acne around the chin, cheeks and mouth, Aloe Vera to leave the skin feeling soothed and comfortable, and essential oils including peppermint to mask the smell of your own breath. Very important.

To use, spray three to four pumps on both sides of the mask, and allow 10 seconds for it to dry before putting it back on.

2. Shhh Silk Face Mask.

If you're wearing a face mask every day, your face deserves silk, no?

The Shhh Silk Face Mask Black reusable masks are chic AF, but more importantly, they're made with three layers of 100 per cent Mulberry silk and a cotton inner to get the job done.

Silk is a natural, soft and breathable material, and wearing a bougie silk face mask can help prevent dryness, rashes or mask acne. You still need to wash these after each use, though, which is why the brand's Shhh Silk Face Mask Black - 3 Pack is so practical.

3. Bioderma Micellar Water.

This one's a cult product for good reason, but it's especially great for cleansing your skin after wearing a face mask.

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution is gentle, effective and fragrance-free.

4. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micro Peeling Cleanser.

Despite its name, the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micro Peeling Cleanser 200mlisn't a peel.

What makes this cleanser excellent at clearing congestion is the inclusion of 2 per cent salicylic acid - it's a BHA (beta-hydroxy acid) that can dive deep into your pores to clean the gunk out.

Try subbing this cleanser into your routine, or use it every other day just on the areas where you're experiencing breakouts.

5. Alpha-H Clear Skin Kit With Salicylic Acid.

The Alpha-H Clear Skin Kit With Salicylic Acid is a five-piece kit featuring travel-size samples of the Clear Skin Tonic, Clear Skin Daily Face and Body Wash, Clear Skin Blemish Control Mask, Clear Skin Daily Hydrator Gel and Clear Skin Blemish Control Gel.

All of these products are made with non-drying salicylic acid formulas (again, this is what will clean your maskne pores out), and the sample sizes allow you to figure out which products you like before investing in the full-size bottles.

6. The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%.

Fact: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is an absolute multi-tasker.

The combination of niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3) and zinc can reduce the appearance of enlarged pores, blemishes and blemish-related redness, uneven skin tone, wrinkles, and dry skin.

Oh, and it also helps to hydrate the skin AND repair an impaired skin barrier.

7. Avène Cleanance Comedomed Anti-Blemishes Concentrate.

If you're struggling with blemishes and congested skin, try swapping this Avène Cleanance Comedomed Anti-Blemishes Concentrate 30ml into your skincare routine.

The lightweight gel formula reduces and limits the reappearance of blemishes and blackheads, and regulates the skin's oil production without stripping it. If you've got oily skin, you can use this as your moisturiser - it gives a lovely matte finish. If you're on the drier side, you can apply your regular moisturiser on top.

You should also know, this product does have a stringent scent, it's the active ingredient doing its job.

Finally, remember to be kind to your skin and remind it this won't be forever. Hopefully.