If you haven’t heard about it – feel blessed. If you have the dreaded mask-ne.. let’s talk about effective solutions. While this is a life-saving measure put in place to protect people, the skin from under our eyes and down to our jawlines is chafing and irritated. Not to mention that it’s starting to get hot and humid, especially here in Kentucky. Sweat and chafing is basically a recipe for acne. I’ve got pimples and cystic acne like I’m a 15 again, leaving my makeup on when I sleep and slathering on that Covergirl ‘Mousse’ foundation with unwashed hands. All along my jawline, mouth, and on my cheeks are painful reminders that my face is protesting. Not to mention serious blackheads… **cries on the inside**
It’s almost impossible to wear makeup because it’s just going to rub right off? So let’s take a break from full coverage foundations, not washing our pillowcases and other bad skincare habits. Even when we don’t have to wear masks anymore – our skin may need time to get better. You don’t want to be wearing a mask/heavy makeup later in the summer because you didn’t address the problem now!
Signs of Mask-Ne
1. Bacterial overgrowth can result in folliculitis or infected hair follicles.
2. Yeast overgrowth can result in perleche or cheilitis. This can present as persistent chapped lips or dry cracked corners of the mouth.
3. Perioral dermatitis, a variant of rosacea, that can present as dry patches around the mouth and painful deep cystic pimples around the mouth.
If any of these are happening to you, then like me – it’s time to switch things up. This means following general mask hygiene practices, following skin care routines to the letter, and possibly investing in some different skincare products.
General Practices to Eliminate Mask-Ne
Washing your mask regularly!!! This is the biggest way I’ve found to combat mask-ne besides skincare. The amount of gunk that builds up from daily use is staggering. Many of us are also suffering from allergies right now and sometimes… there is no quick way to take off your mask and cover your mouth before a sneeze overtakes you. GROSS, I KNOW. Even if you’re not sneezing, there’s a good chance that you’re touching your face to readjust the mask and contributing to more mask-ne.
How often should you actually wash a re-usable cloth mask? There are guidelines from Johns Hopkins that suggest washing it every day after using it.. and then there’s reality. I try to wash it every time I’m doing laundry (once every 3 days or so), and if I’m feeling lazy – at least once a week. You might think, ‘eww gross you only wash it once a week…?’, but let’s be honest here. How many times do you wear your bra between washes? (That number is probably gross too! 😉 )
Avoid lip-gloss, lip-stick, and chap-stick. I know that some of us are addicted to chapstick – but you gotta break the habit to help end mask-ne! It’ll just spread around your mouth region, and then spread all over the area inside the mask, and clog your pores. Not to mention that every time you put your mask back on (between washes) – your spreading that glorious KUSH Lip Balm from Milk Makeup alll over your face. Also keep in mind anything that stuck to the lipgloss in the mask is now rubbing all over your face. GROSS.
Avoid foundations and tinted moisturizers. Not only is none of the facial makeup you apply going to stick around under your mask, it will most likely end up causing you more problems in the long run.
Follow a Skin Care Routine. While not every routine is for everyone, I genuinely think some skincare is better than no skincare these days. Everyone is stressed and we’re wearing masks. It’s a recipe for disaster if you don’t do just a little bit.
Hydrate. See the picture of me? Red face mask and drinking water? That’s a selfie I sent to some girlfriends recently when I was feeling SUPER glamorous… but in all reality: It’s exactly what we should be doing every night. You’re asleep for a solid 6-8 hours without drinking any water, and then you’re wearing a dry chafing mask all day. You need to focus on being more hydrated than usual!
Wash Your Sheets. It’s 2020. The year of staying home with ample time to do laundry and find an easy skincare routine. I’m just sayin’…. wash your sheets (including your pillowcases) and your face! Making it a habit to wash your sheets means that in the off chance that you go to bed with your makeup on, at least you won’t be compounding that with the germs from last night’s drool! (AKA mask-ne heaven.)
My Skin-Care Routine for Combatting Mask-Ne
- Vitamin C (Only if you’re reading for more intense anti-aging products!)
- Eye- Makeup if you must. ( Personally I love the au-naturel vibe in the summer, but I get it if you gotta have mascara!)
Why don’t I use an acne fighter/serum during the day? These products are intended to dry out blemish-prone areas and you’re already losing moisture wearing a mask. The mask, in combination with acne serums, will cause too much irritation during the day so it’s best to leave those products until night time.
Post Mask (Night)
- Wash and exfoliate at the same time. It’s so important to exfoliate after night because the mask rubs your face all day long and can cause folliculitis. (Folliculitis is an infection at the fair follicle/ root!) To avoid getting infections like this – a gentle exfoliator is majorly helpful. (I’ve used this exfoliating rotating brush for years and it’s awesome!)
- Dermaroller (Every Other Night). Please see here for the derma roller I use.
- Acne Medicine
- Antioxidant (add into your moisturizer)
Then 2x a week use The Ordinary ‘AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution’. Get at Ulta if it’s out of stock at Sephora! What is it? An effective and gentle retexturing mask (AKA getting rid of the rough stuff). Please note this is not supposed to be used on the same night you derma-roll! This will cause so much more irritation and will not help you. Less is more!
I would also like to note here that I’m not a dermatologist. Just someone who’s had bad skin for years, decided I was over it and got serious about research. If you have any questions – feel free to ask! But also ask your dermatologist for any helpful recommendations for fighting mask-ne.
Gentle / Clean Beauty Skin Care Products
This face wash has been a life-saver when it comes to mask-ne. It’s gentle, removes my make-up and never leaves my skin feeling tight! One of the biggest problems with any kind of acne is excessive moisture stripping from the wrong kind of cleansers. More than likely – even if you do have oily skin – you’re face is probably over-producing oils to compensate from a previous stripping of essential moisture, (which results in more acne).
Remember back in the ’90s and early 2000’s when we used to slather toners on our face that were harsh and stripped our skin of all moisture? This isn’t that. Toners are now a hydrating and gentle primer for the rest of your skincare routine. This one just happens to also be resurfacing. (If you’re just now starting to think about anti-aging skincare- this is a great first step. You don’t need any strong retinoids yet!)
For anyone looking to incorporate a gentle Vitamin C into their routine, I mix this product in with my moisturizers and slather them generously on my face, down my neck, and onto my chest. These areas look the oldest the fastest and Vitamin C is an easy way to combat that. I also love this product because it provides a brightening agent too that works well for acne scarring from the past. (Even out your complexion = less makeup!)
Normally I use The Ordinary’s Niacinamide treatment, but they’re sold out. Until it’s back in stock I’ll be trying, The Inkey List’s Beta Hydroxy blemish-fighting serum. Products like these are necessary for sensitive skin. They’re more gentle than your typical salicylic acid treatments, so for someone like me with sensitive skin – they’re more effective!
This is the antioxidant I mentioned that I mix in with my moisturizer. Many people skip this step and for a long time I did too – but if you have redness from irritation- this is your best friend. Not only does this antioxidant calm redness, it also protects against the appearance of UV damage. (Think sunspots.)
The size suggested for large pores and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is 0.25 to 0.5. I chose 0.25 mm and I’ve seen great results. This is one of those steps that I never did before and personally I don’t my skin can go without. If I don’t do this for a week or so – I start to notice a difference. As I said before, I only do this about twice a week to let my sensitive skin recover! Click here for an in-depth guide to derma-rolling.
As always, remember my favorite phrase: ‘Know thyself’! When it comes to skincare- really take the time to think about what your skin needs. All skincare routines will not work for everyone, but my routines and products may give you a great starting point!