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What's Up With Mask-ne?

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

As we get back to our normal work environments most of us have to wear a mask all day, including myself. 😒 I don't think I have ever seen as much lower jaw line acne and congestion as I have been seeing this past month. The added stress from the pandemic, change of diet and eating habits does not help either!

So, what is this new form of acne, referred to as mask-ne? We all have these tiny little hair follicles on our face, chest and back, and wearing any kind of a mask or protective equipment that's creating friction and pressure can irritate the hair follicles. Moisture can also get trapped underneath the fabric, which gets worse with humidity, with heat, and with exercise. This can all result in an acne flare up (mask-ne).

Most people go straight to thinking that exfoliating more will help prevent the breakouts. This is not the case with mask-ne. Over exfoliating the skin will only lead to more irritation from the mask rubbing against the skin. You want to pick gentle hydrating products that do not strip the skin’s fragile barrier.

  1. Check your face cleansers. Avoid anything with SLS or sodium lauryl sulfate, which is a harsh sulfate that really strips the skin of its natural oils and impairs the barrier. Fragrances and heavy oils, like coconut oil or coconut butter, are also a no go. Avoid any scrubs that feel like sand or grit, these are especially damaging to your skin’s barrier.

  2. Wash your mask. This is very important! If you wore your mask for just an hour to run an errand your makeup, sunscreen, and moisture gets on the mask and contaminates it. If you exercise or sweat during the day with a mask on, then you want to change that mask and put on a fresh, clean mask on right away. I prefer cotton masks as they allow your skin to breathe.

  3. Avoid wearing makeup especially, oil based foundations. I recommend only wearing makeup from the eyes and up. If you can go foundation-free and use a mineral sunscreen this is even better. I like Tizo and Lira Clinical Sunscreens (I carry both). Apply your moisturizer and sunscreen in the morning; wait about 15 minutes, to let it soak in, before putting on your mask. Wait about 30 minutes if you are wearing the N95 masks.

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