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Identifying and treating ‘maskne’

Face coverings are becoming our new normal, we have to bring them everywhere with us to ensure we are protected from the virus. While we are protecting and taking care of ourselves, we must also take care of our skin.


Acne Mechanica is acne caused by excess heat, friction or pressure on the skin. The difference between this and regular acne is what causes it. Regular acne is caused by hormones, whereas acne mechanica is due to friction. According to Very Well Health, “anything that traps heat against the body for a prolonged period of time, rubs or puts pressure on the skin can trigger acne mechanica.”


Things like bag straps, headbands, bras, tight clothes and sports equipment can cause this. When breakouts are caused from wearing face coverings, such as masks and visors, this is known as ‘maskne’. Maskne happens when heat is trapped between your skin and your mask, causing sweat and oils to build up in your pores. Your pores then become irritated if your mask continues to rub against your face. 


If you are already prone to breakouts, you will more than likely develop maskne. In the early stages, you often cannot see the pimples, instead your skin will appear rough and bumpy. As it progresses, these tiny breakouts become irritated and develop into inflamed blemishes. Regular acne and maskne can look identical, however there are some signs to identify which type of breakout you have in order to treat it correctly. 


  • If your breakouts are heavily concentrated in an area where you wore your mask and the rest of your skin is clear.

  • If you have been self-isolating or similar and your blemishes develop soon after you begin to wear a mask again.

  • If a breakout appears suddenly after wearing a mask in a hot environment.


According to Dr. Pimple Popper (Dr. Sandra Lee) and Revolution Skincare, there are a few simple guidelines you can follow to avoid and treat your maskne.


Wearing a cotton mask will minimize irritation as they are comfortable and breathable. Make sure your mask is tight enough so you don’t have to keep adjusting it against your skin, but not so tight that it will cause a lot of friction.


Moisturising your skin and keeping it hydrated will ensure there is a barrier between your skin and the mask to maintain a healthy balance. Using a hydrating toner or essence spray in between uses will hydrate your skin and keep it refreshed.


Ensure you clean your face before you first wear a mask and as soon as possible after you last wear it. Thoroughly double cleansing at the end of the day will remove any build-up of dirt and oils. To double cleanse, first wash your face with an oil-based cleanser and then with a cream or gel cleanser.


Avoid wearing heavy makeup as the increased humidity under your mask will cause your makeup to clog your pores, leading to breakouts. Instead, try a tinted moisturiser or a mineral powder. Remember, you can use your mask to hide your breakouts!


It is important to continue wearing SPF as UV rays can penetrate and damage your skin through clothes and your mask. An SPF moisturiser will save you money and time, as it is two steps in one.


We are going to be wearing masks for the foreseeable future, so it is important to adapt to a new skincare routine to ensure your skin is fresh and healthy. You can start by adding one or two new products or steps to your daily routine to help combat maskne.


Below are affordable yet effective skincare products that will help nourish and hydrate your skin, while fighting breakouts and blemishes.


Revolution Skincare Purifying Cleansing Paste

This works by absorbing excess oil and dirt, while the vitamin E and biotin leave your skin soft. 

RRP: €9.75


Revolution Skincare Hydration Boost Night Cream

The hyaluronic acid and glycogen help to hydrate your skin, which is kept soft and supple by the illyine butter and peach kernel oil.

 RRP: €12.25


Revolution Skincare SPF Moisturiser

Available for normal to dry skin and oily skin, this moisturiser hydrates and protects the skin.

RRP: €12.25


The Ordinary Squalene Cleanser

Suitable for all skin types, this balm to oil formula is ideal for double cleansing, removing makeup and dirt.

RRP: €7.00


The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2%Mask

This mask works by removing dead skin cells to smooth and refresh the skin. RRP: €12.25


Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

This serum fights blemishes, congestion and the overproduction of oil to reduce further breakouts.

RRP: €5.95

Journalism student and editor of Her Campus for DCU.
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