It’s a sign of the times — while doing the right thing by wearing a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19, you are doing a number on your complexion. “Acne mechanica,” the technical term for maskne is the result of the mechanical friction of a fabric against the skin. This is compounded by moisture trapped against the skin due to heat, humidity and exercise.
Treatment can be tricky, according to Laura Hess, esthetician at Ombu Salon + Spa.
“When skin is compromised, exfoliators are still necessary. Instead of using an abrasive scrub, using something with more gentle acids like the Eminence Calm Skin Exfoliating Peel would be beneficial. Treating the skin prior to wearing a mask is just as important as treating it after. Try using apple cider vinegar diluted with water beforehand to prepare the pH of the skin; this can help minimize bacteria. Post mask, using Eminence Clear Skin Serum or Rosehip Lemongrass Repair Balm can heal the skin as you sleep.” Hess said.
Of course the best thing to do is to prevent maskne from occurring in the first place. Since we can’t — or shouldn’t — stop wearing masks around others for the foreseeable future, here are some key prevention tips.
- Wash your mask. While taking off your mask and letting it sit in the sun for a few hours may help kill any virus microbes; all the dirt, sweat, makeup and moisturizer that may be on the mask only serves as a breeding ground for acne. Masks should be washed and dried thoroughly after every wear. If you wear a mask while exercising, switch out to a clean mask as soon as possible. Also, choosing natural fabrics such as cotton or bamboo are more breathable and better for your face.
- Use gentle skin care products. Avoid products with sodium lauryl sulfate, which is a harsh sulfate that really strips the skin of its natural oils and impairs the barrier. Also avoid scrubs or anything else that will damage the skin barrier. Instead use a gentle cleaner, such as Eminence Mangosteen Daily Resurfacing Cleanser, twice a day with fingertips only (no brushes or loofahs). For the daytime, use a moisturizer or sunscreen without any heavy ingredients, such as Eminence Organics Calm Skin Chamomile Moisturizer. The moisturizer will help protect the face from mask friction (similar to runner’s chafing cream). At night after cleansing, use a moisture-rich night cream to repair the skin barrier and hold in moisture (our estheticians recommend Eminence Organics Monoi Age Corrective Night Cream for Face & Neck).
- Put your normal skin care regimen on hold. Wearing a mask will intensify product delivery to your skin. In the case of products with acids or retinols, which can be irritating, intensifying delivery is not likely to be a good thing. If you still want to use these products, use them in the evening after you are done wearing a mask for the day.
- Breakup with your makeup. You can’t see it under your mask, anyway! Instead, play up your eyes. Get your brows professionally shaped and tinted. If you must wear a full face of makeup for that Zoom video conference, clean it gently as soon as you are done.Eminence Stone Crop Cleansing Oil is great for this. It’s gentle and soothing.
- How to treat it. Remember that harsh acne treatments will only be exacerbated by the continued irritation of a mask, and start treating slowly. Use a spot treatment product such as Eminence Clear Skin Targeted Treatment with tea tree oil and salicylic acid. Tea tree oil, which has anti-fungal and anti-viral properties and calendula oil, which reduces inflammation are also good, natural ingredients for fighting acne. Another good treatment option is acne patches, because they not only treat pimples but provide a physical barrier underneath masks. If you use retinol, only treat the problem areas and use it at night when you won’t be wearing the mask anymore.
- It might not be acne. If it looks more like a rash or itches, you might have contact dermatitis, not acne. Hydrocortisone can help here. If the problem persists, you should visit a dermatologist.
- Watch your stress level and diet. We are all under additional stress due from COVID-19. Poor sleep and diet will contribute to acne. Try not to overdo “comfort foods” and drinking. Use meditation apps to help you control stress levels and try to get a solid night’s sleep.
Whether you need product recommendations or a treatment to help with any skin problems that you are encountering, the estheticians at Ombu Salon + Spa are here to help. Call or set up an appointment now!
Many of the products recommended for maskne prevention and treatment are available at Ombu Salon + Spa, including masks. Online shopping is available at www.vagaro.com/ombusalonplusspa/products.
Ombu Salon + Spa is located at 121 3rd Ave N in downtown Edmonds. Call for an appointment at (425) 778-6322. Walk-ins are also welcome. If you would like more information, please contact Beth Sanger at 206-327-4045 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.