‘Maskne’: Is your face mask causing skin problems? Here's how to fix it

Wearing a mask all day is a recipe for breakouts, but it can be managed

Masks are part of our life now. We have to get used to living with them.

Masks are part of our life now. We have to get used to living with them.

 

It feels trite to complain about masks at this point – they are a feature of our public lives and we need to find ways to live comfortably with them.

I would rather be writing about the intense relief of a good thick clay mask as you feel it beckoning the mutinous gunk from congested pores but, this week, I’m devoting this article to the other sort of mask and its effects on our skin.

Murad Clarifying Oil-Free Water Gel.
Murad Clarifying Oil-Free Water Gel.

With prolonged and consistent use, masks can contribute to a number of annoying skin issues. The buzzword going around is “maskne”, but that’s best ignored.

Your mask is not really giving you acne – what it might be doing is contributing to redness, dryness or breakouts caused by friction, which sensitises the skin, and transfer of bacteria from the mask to your now slightly irritated skin.

This is a recipe for breakouts and redness, but it can be managed and isn’t anything to worry too much about.

The best place to start is with the mask itself. If it is well fitted – not so loose that it rubs or moves, and not so tight that it constricts or pinches – the skin will get on better with it.

La Roche Posay Dermallergo Serum.
La Roche Posay Dermallergo Serum.

The fabric is also quite important – breathable fabrics like cotton and silk are better for the skin, creating less of a swampy microclimate under the mask. On the recommendation of The Skin Nerd by Jennifer Rock, I bought some simple cotton masks from Healthmasks.ie.

Rewearing a mask is virtually guaranteed to cause breakouts; I try to keep two clean ones in my bag so I’m never stuck.

Cleanser

A good cleanser will make an enormous difference. Something like Cerave SA Smoothing Cleanser with Salicylic Acid (€12.50 at Boots) is decongesting, and a good cleanser for morning to ensure the skin is completely clean.

Cerave SA Smoothing Cleanser with Salicylic Acid.
Cerave SA Smoothing Cleanser with Salicylic Acid.

If you wear make-up or SPF, you’ll need to double cleanse at night with a richer cream, oil or balm cleanser, especially when you’ve been wearing a mask.

Switching to a lighter foundation is also a good bet if you can, as is opting for a lighter moisturiser during the day.

Murad Clarifying Oil-Free Water Gel (€44 at murad.co.uk) is perfect for skin that has been breaking out. You can still use your richer creams; they are just better left for bedtime.

If you are using a serum, keep it light and focused on comforting and balancing stressed skin.

La Roche Posay Dermallergo Serum (€30 at pharmacies nationwide) is designed for compromised skin barriers and has a feather-light, cushiony texture. The skin will drink it in thirstily.

So many of us rely on lip balms, particularly in the colder months, but they don’t mix at all well with a mask. I like a rich overnight balm – Milk Makeup Melatonin Overnight Lip Mask (€21.50 at culybeauty.co.uk) is my very favourite – to condition lips while I sleep, so I feel less need for a lip balm during the day.

Milk Makeup Melatonin Overnight Lip Mask.
Milk Makeup Melatonin Overnight Lip Mask.

Try repurposing what you’ve already got before buying new products, paring back your skincare routine, and using lighter textures during the day.

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