Over a year since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, masks are an undeniable part of the new norm. We encourage everyone to mask up and do their part to protect their respective communities. However, the reality is that face coverings can bring with them all sorts of skin issues, namely mask-induced acne or “maskne.” These pesky and painful breakouts emerge around the lower half of the face after prolonged mask usage. Repeated contact with masks as well as the potential for trapped sweat or bacteria can be a recipe for angry, inflamed skin that begs for relief.We chatted with a few of our favorite women who have successfully incorporated masks into their daily wardrobe without sacrificing their beautiful, healthy skin. And if attacked by maskne, they all have different yet, effective solutions to bringing the skin back to balance.
When is the best time to deal with a mask-induced breakout? “Before it even starts”, according to Ginger King, the founder/CEO of the boutique consultancy firm Grace Kingdom Beauty and Best of Beauty Judge for Allure. King relies on science-backed active ingredients to prevent breakouts at the first sign of any skin irritation to catch “maskne” before it even has a chance to surface.
“Usually, before you have a pimple emerging, you will feel it. My tip is to use a 2% salicylic acid gel immediately to stop it before it becomes worse...It works like a charm. If the pimple has already emerged, try sulfur-based or benzyl peroxide type of treatment.”
King also stresses that hygiene and cleanliness are more important than ever – especially for the skin. She urges us to keep our face clean at all times, especially after eating. Eliminating any bacteria that could be trapped under the mask simultaneously eliminates any acne that could be caused by that bacteria.
What happens if maskne is caught too late? “My skin is ultra sensitive so when it comes to damage control, I use a hypochlorous acid (HOCl) spray on my hands and face”, explains Monica Lo, creative director and founder of Sous Weed, a firm believer of the antimicrobial ingredient found in the human immune system. Lo emphasizes the importance of self care going beyond just the mask, “Since the pandemic started, I’ve been much better about drinking water and keeping hydrated since I’m not running around as much. I also make sure to take a daily multivitamin and CBD tinctures when I feel stress levels rising.” We often overlook the benefits of staying hydrated – hydration reduces the physiological responses to stress such as fatigue, headaches, muscle cramps, and of course, issues surfacing on the skin.
Lynn Liou, Founder and CEO of L'Inspired, a dual language Chinese & English digital magazine that delivers curated content for inspired living, shares a successful tip of her beauty routine, “I’ve definitely experienced a few breakouts related to wearing a mask, especially in hot or humid conditions. One trick I learned recently is to treat healing pimples with moisture rather than continuing to dry it out. Once a zit has popped and the skin is broken, it’s better to hydrate the area to avoid scabs and scars. My skin has healed much faster post-breakouts now that I don’t over-dry it.” Hydrocolloid patches and zit stickers also help Liou eliminate maskne before they surface.
“My damage control after a mask induced breakout is always to give my face a rest and give it some extra love. I personally love soothing any breakouts or irritation with an ice pack. It just really calms down any inflammation I have. When I have a breakout I get really strict with cleansing my face, taking off all of my makeup at night, and keeping my skin hydrated!”
Is makeup under a mask an absolute no go? While she tries her best not to wear makeup under her mask, Beauregard has a special mask makeup routine when it’s necessary: “eyebrows, eyelashes, under-eye concealer, and little bit of highlight. It’s just enough to look like I have a face of makeup on, but it’s only on the half that shows”.
We spoke with the talented Sherry Cola, comedian, writer and actress making huge waves in the entertainment industry. She currently plays Alice Kwan on Freeform’s “Good Trouble” and can be seen in many comedy-drama series and films. Sherry spent long hours outdoor protesting in the past summer which eventually sent her on a trip to her dermatologist to clear up dry, red spots on the lower half of her face. She has a newfound regime to keep up with her natural beauty standards – ”Staying hydrated is key! I've been using a gentle green tea cleanser to wash my face.” She also relies on a hydrating serum, redness reduction treatments, and face lotion. Underneath a protective mask, she also uses sun protection, “non-tinted sunscreen! That's my vibe and I'm stickin' to it!”
Allowing the skin to breathe as much as it can by adapting a new makeup routine can save us the headaches of visits from blackheads, cystic acne, or eczema. Switching new masks often, or washing them (if wearing fabric masks) prevents previously trapped dirt and oil from getting in contact with cleansed skin or re-infecting troubled areas. Cleansing thoroughly, applying lightweight, hydrating products, and minimal makeup all contribute to healthier skin under the new culture of mask wearing.