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If you have acne-prone skin, your skin's probably not too happy about being smothered with a fabric face mask day in and day out. Especially with this hot and humid summer, wearing masks may be obligatory to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but that doesn't mean we have to like it.
You are not alone in your skin care troubles. Now that face masks are part of your daily lives, breakouts have become so common that mask acne even has its own nickname: "maskne."
While you shouldn't ditch the mask, there are ways you can prevent face mask breakouts so that you can enjoy a blemish-free face for the remainder of the summer. Coronavirus has already taken so much from you - don't let it ruin your complexion too.
Maskne is acne brought on by wearing a face mask. See, acne usually develops when pores get clogged by oil, dead skin cells, or bacteria which can lead to blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples.
"The clinical term for maskne is acne mechanic and it is caused by friction, rubbing, and occlusion of the skin by outside forces," explains New York City dermatologist Michelle Henry, M.D.
This friction can push bacteria into the skin, resulting in the entry of more bacteria and dirt, which results in more breakouts.
You'll notice these breakouts where the face mask sits — chin, nose, and cheeks. Masks can also trigger a range of other skin conditions including rosacea, contact dermatitis, perioral dermatitis, and irritant dermatitis.
Adopting a skin care routine that includes a good cleanser, exfoliator, and moisturizer can really help in managing acne. Even if you're not wearing a face mask day in and day out, you still need to take good care of your complexion. And the best way to do that is through regular cleansing and exfoliating to ensure that all that gunk and dead skin cells are removed from your skin and no pore-clogging business occurs.
More about that now!
1. Cleanse Before And After
You're already diligent about washing your hands throughout the day. You should be just as diligent in washing your face if you want to keep it clear and blemish-free.
Opt for a cleanser with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid if you're prone to flareups. Check that it's non-comedogenic too - sometimes even cleansers clog the pores. And if you have sensitive skin, stick to a gentle cleanser to prevent any skin irritation. Use your face wash 2x per day, ideally, or more if you use your mask more frequently.
Exfoliating helps to dissolve dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, which is key for preventing face mask breakouts. Once again, if you have acne-prone skin, look for ingredients such as salicylic acid, which unclog the pores and actively target acne. Exfoliants are great at keeping acne-prone skin at bay and preventing the onset of more acne.
That doesn't mean you have to slough away at your skin until your complexion becomes a sore, red mess. It just means gentle exfoliating to rid your skin of dead skin cells that could be contributing to your pimples.
3. Protect Your Skin
Your face will be mostly covered by your mask, but other areas are exposed - areas that you can easily protect. Apply an even layer of high SPF sunscreen or moisturizer with SPF as the finishing step to keep your skin well-protected under the harsh UV rays. Look for non-comedogenic and oil-free options to prevent clogging pores that lead to acne.
Moisturizing also helps reduce friction by providing a skin barrier between the mask and your skin.
If you have sensitive skin, choose a fragrance-free lotion with hyaluronic acid or retinol to hydrate your skin without causing breakouts.
4. Avoid Foundation
Heavy foundations will only further trap bacteria in your pores under your face mask. It's the ideal home for acne. While it may not be an issue for some people, if you have active skin issues like acne, you shouldn't be layering foundation on under your face coverings. Instead, apply a spot treatment on affected areas under your mask so you can let it work and nobody will see it!
Foundation is particularly terrible for the skin on hot, humid days, as this is when the pores open and the gunk slides in. AKA, major skin care no, no! Plus, it leaves a residue on your mask when you wear it underneath -yuk!
A clean mask means a clean and clear complexion. If you're wearing a fabric cloth mask, you should be washing it every day - or at least, every time you wear it. It's important for your health and for your skin.
Masks, while fundamental for our safety, can trap in dirt, oil, and sweat. If you're not cleaning them properly with a high quality laundry detergent, this can further exacerbate your breakouts.
6. Choose the Right Face Mask
Different skin types react differently to different materials. And because you'll be wearing a fitting mask, it's important to wear a material that does not irritate your skin.
Choose a mask that lets your skin breathe while also protecting others and yourself from the coronavirus pandemic. You can get either an over-the-counter mask that you'll see many healthcare workers wearing or get a more personalized, pretty face mask that's more you.
Opt for soft fabrics like cotton or silk as these tend to be gentler and more breathable on the skin. Avoid synthetic materials that are generally much harsher on the skin.
Fortunately, chamomile flower extract is a natural product with few side effects. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is far more safer than other drugs for calming the mind and serving as a sleep aid. Numerous clinical trials prove its safety.
As far as skin care is concerned, chamomile extract is just as safe. Being the anti-inflammatory that it is, it should be suitable for all skin types - including sensitive skin.
If you do experience any unwanted side effects, refrain from using immediately. Alternatively, run it past your healthcare provider beforehand. Already have sensitivities? A health care professional can advise you on the best actions to take and whether chamomile extract is a suitable choice.
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