I can’t tell you how many times I rolled my eyes at the amount of emails I received trying to sell me something for (what I thought was purely a PR invention), ‘Maskne’; Acne caused by wearing protective Masks on our faces.
‘Taking advantage of a situation’ sprung to mind, that is, until I got it….
When I say “I got it” it could not have been more clear! It was literally a mask of spots, all following the edges of where the mask sits on my face. They came up very quickly and very strangely, like lumps under the skin, eventually kind of coming to a head yet deep within the pore – I currently have a scar from one I squeezed/picked at, that wasn’t ready to come out (I’m a do as I say, not as I do, kinda gal – NEVER pick at your face!).
The spots on my cheeks cleared quite quickly, but then it started around my chin and nose. Again, it was very lumpy but this time it was also flaky and pimply, attractive no? So, I did what anyone who should know better would do, I overdid everything in my skincare routine, and of course, made it all worse. Much, much worse!
So, in a nutshell, if you are suffering with breakouts, eczema or rashes from wearing a protective face mask, take the breaks off of your regular skincare routine a bit. You are suffering from what us therapists call ‘Acne Mechanica’ which is basically spots caused by friction or pressure to the skin – your skin is upset, so be kind!
You want gentle and hydrating exfoliation (no scrubs or strong acids), soothing and hydrating moisturise, a calming face mask (the skincare kind not the culprit kind) and spf – always spf! (to protect the delicate skin from further environmental damage. My favourite is Skinceuticals Advanced Brightening UV Defence spf 50, £45 because it is fluid light and helps prevent discolouration of the skin).
To exfoliate, good old Dermalogica came to the rescue with their brand new Hydro Masque Exfoliant, £55 , this exfoliant is powerful enough to remove all the micro dead skin cells on the skin – which if left, contribute to the pore blocking – but gentle enough so as not to aggravate already upset skin. Hydro Masque isn’t stingy at all, it feels very soothing on application, it has very fine grains to buff off the dead skin as well as AHA bubbles to eat away and stubborn cells. The great thing about the bubbles, is you can tailor make your exfoliation according to your needs by pressing and popping the bubbles to release more ingredients in the areas you need it the most, whilst not over stimulating the areas that need a break. By the way, I am still a die-hard Daily Microfoliant, £55 fan after all these years too (it launched around 2002 if I remember correctly?!) your skin will also like this cult product if you are suffering with maskne.
To moisturise, try a hybrid cream-serum, such as semi-permanent makeup specialist, Tracie Giles, new repair formula Crème Rescue Serum, £38. This silky-smooth serum was created to help the skin healing process after semi-permanent makeup application, however, with clinically proven actives to improve the skin barrier function and soothe irritation– reducing redness by up to 99% in just 28 days – it is the ideal product to help heal and protect our sore, confused complexions!
For your mask, you cannot go wrong with professional clinic range Qdel Premium Repair Mask, £49 (for a pack of 5 masks). Designed to be used post clinical treatment (think lasers, peels, PRP) to calm and hydrate the skin, these masks fit to your skin perfectly and feel dreamy! With glycerine, squalene and camelia extract infused in the bio cellulose film, they literally feel like a soothing, calming second skin and leave your skin looking incredibly fresh and calm.
Dr Qian Xu, Medical Director, Skin Aesthetics Clinic, saclinic.co.uk is a fan of Qdel masks and, of course medical masks, after returning to the front-line during the height of the pandemic. She says “Friction usually occurs when the mask is slightly loose and can move repeatedly against the skin. This can be avoided by making the mask a little tighter, which also improves the effectiveness of the mask. If you are using medical masks with ear loops, you can simply tie a knot at the base of the ear loops to shorten them and fold the sides inwards to close the gap.
All of these steps, alongside regularly washing my masks on a hot wash with non-bio detergent and cleaning my makeup brushes more often too (Lynsey Queen of Clean recommends making your own natural solution of Witch Hazel combined with grapefruit essential oil in a spray bottle to spritz your brushes and wipe clean after each use – it smells so good!) have got my ‘maskne’ under control, but as it seems masks are here to stay for a while, so too must this new skincare routine (just don’t call it the ‘new normal’ for it was cause another eye roll…..)