What is Maskne? It is acne or a similar skin breakout caused by frequently wearing a face mask. This is otherwise known as acne mechanica, a physical type of breakout that results from excessive friction. The friction, or rubbing of the mask on your face, causes the breakdown of your skin's barrier, the outermost layer that shields you from external stuff while keeping hydration locked in.
A damaged barrier can lead to all kinds of skin problems: skin irritation, clogged pores, sebum and bacteria that proliferate under the skin. You will notice tiny shallow whiteheads rather than the deep and painful bumps (those are caused by hormones). The friction of the mask can also block and clog pores, leading to the formation of comedones or blackheads.
Also, breathing for hours with the mask on creates your own personal humid microclimate that can be a breeding ground for acne.
You can prevent this issue by building a healthy skin barrier between the mask and your skin. How can you do that? Our suggestion is to use BOA exfoliant to clean away all the dead skins and impurities as soon as you get home. Follow that with a gentle facial cleanser and a cream with ingredients such as ceramides. Ceramides help hold the skin together by forming a protective layer that limits moisture loss and protects against visible damage from pollution and other environmental stressors. Avoid products that are too drying because they will cause the skin barrier to become more compromised than it already is.
While wearing your mask out in public right now is essential – especially in social settings where physical distancing is difficult to maintain - remember, you can (and should!) take the mask off and give your face a necessary breather when you're away from other people or while driving your car.
Janet Finnerty (Cosmetic Chemist)
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