Yes, this is still a thing! And no, please don’t hate the messenger.
Acne in the area under and around our facial masks occurs for two main reasons: firstly, our exhaled breath creates a humidity under the mask that allows bacteria to grow, and secondly, the physical presence of the mask can cause pressure or friction on the skin that encourages pores to clog.
Before the pandemic, this type of acne was mostly seen in athletes who had to wear helmets or face straps to compete. The sweat and heat of competition, plus the friction of their gear, created a similar environment. Luckily, this means this isn’t the first time skin specialists have seen this problem—so there are solutions out there.
Cleanse and Hydrate
Make sure you’re keeping your skin clean with a foaming cleanser. Our Gentle Cleanser reduces irritation and is formulated without the types of ingredients that can dry skin out. Dry skin can often lead to breakouts by creating a buildup of dead skin cells that clog pores.
For skin that is more generally acne-prone, try a cleanser with salicylic acid, like our Clarifying Cleanser. Just make sure you’re rehydrating your skin with a good hyaluronic acid moisturizer, like our H.A. Hydrator, so you don’t end up with the same dry skin problem.
Avoid or Decrease Irritants
Some helpful skincare ingredients, like exfoliants, topical acids, and retinol, can naturally irritate our skin a bit as they do what they’re supposed to do. That’s one reason why Mint & Needle offers several different concentrations of retinol creams, matching your skin’s needs while still bringing you all their anti-aging benefits.
If you’re using something like our Retinol 1%, consider decreasing to Retinol 0.5% when you know you’ll be masking for long periods. Another great option is our Retinol Gentle, which gives you just enough formula to improve skin tone and texture while minimizing irritation.
Use Ceramides for Irritation
If you’re reading this with some already-present maskne: ceramides are your friend. Our B3 Hydrate contains three separate ceramides that decrease skin irritation by restoring the skin’s natural moisture barrier.
Our Intense Hydrating Cream is another lifesaver for dry skin; not only does it contain ceramides, but it also decreases the presence of molecules that cause inflammation in the skin.
Clear Up Acne Quickly
And last but not least (and definitely not limited to), our Acne Control Serum is one of our go-to options when dealing with acne. Its formula contains micronized Benzoyl Peroxide and Glycolic Acid that synergistically work as a highly effective acne-fighting, blemish-removing serum, quickly clearing the pores of bacteria and cellular debris within 24 hours. Pro tip: We recommend this product as long as you’re not dealing with dry or irritated skin.
The best way to decrease maskne is to do as much prevention as possible. This means keeping your masks clean—ideally by wearing a new one every day—and minimizing makeup in the masked area. (Your skin will thank you for skipping your foundation routine on your chin and cheeks—and no one will see those areas under your mask anyway!)
We also understand that masks are an investment and that you won’t always use them for long periods of time. So here are the best ways to recycle and maintain masks if you’re reusing them:
- For KN95s or N95s, make sure to rotate your masks. Consider keeping two to three of these more durable masks around and rotating them so that each mask gets a couple of days to air out between wears. After about a week, or when they are at all visibly soiled, throw the mask away and start with new ones.
- For simple surgical masks, try not to wear them more than once or twice, regardless of whether those wears are spread out over one day or several days. As with the hardier masks, be sure to throw these away when you see any makeup, sweat, or other marks.
- For washable cloth masks, remove the inner lining and wash with a fragrance-free detergent. Consider doing a double rinse if you have especially sensitive skin. Then dry them in the dryer.
While masks may be a regular part of some of our lives, maskne does not have to be. Whether you’re working 12-hour shifts at a hospital or navigating a crowded airport, know that you can protect both your health and your skin.