How to avoid breakouts and acne from wearing a face mask

Worried about how wearing a mask in shops and on public transport will affect your skin? Here are five expert tips to help prevent ‘Maskne’.

It’s no secret that lockdown has reaped havoc with our skin. The disruption to our daily routines, the stress of the current situation and lack of vitamin D has mean that our skin has taken a hit and may not be in tip top condition at the moment.

On top of this it has now been announced that it is mandatory to wear a fabric mask on public transport and in shops. For some, especially people with sensitive skin, wearing a mask daily could cause their skin to go into meltdown. 

To help prevent this, Lucy Xu, Skin Specialist and Founder of the London Premier Laser Skin Clinics offers tips on avoiding breakouts from wearing a mask. 

What is ‘Maskne’? 

Maskne is the term given to acne and breakouts which are caused by wearing a mask.

From friction of the the mask causing irritation, to bacteria transferring from the mask onto your skin, there are many ways in which wearing a mask could mean your skin will start to suffer, becomes irritated, congested and could potentially promote acne around the cheeks and chin area.

Here are my five tips to help you avoid Maskne.

1) Buy the right type of mask

When choosing a mask, I would spend a little bit more to ensure that it is a good fit, large enough to cover your face, offers the right type of fabric which is breathable, soft on the skin and non-irritating.

I would also advise buying a couple which will allow you to rotate the mask every day so that you are wearing a clean mask each day whilst the other is in the wash. This will not only prevent you from catching COVID-19, but will also keep your skin clean and free of any unwanted bacteria.

Opt for natural fabrics such as cotton or washable silk as these types of fabric will reduce the friction of the mask on your face which should help to prevent any irritation from rubbing.

2) Keep your mask clean

Keeping your mask clean is imperative for ensuring that you are keeping your skin clean and free from any harmful bacteria that could cause you to breakout.

Furthermore, the air from breathing in a confined space will build up underneath the mask and will begin to suffocate the skin, this mixed with sweating and long periods of wearing the mask will act as a breeding ground for bacteria leading to potential breakouts and congestion.

So its super important to ensure that you remove your mask when you aren’t wearing it to allow the skin to breathe and to get some air into the mask.

I would also advise machine washing your mask after every use on a hot setting with good detergent,  and as mentioned previously I would advise buying a few masks so you can rotate them.

3) Turn your skincare regime up a notch

If your skin is prone to inflammation and breakouts then you may want to invest a little more time and money into your skincare to ensure that whilst we have to wear masks you are looking after its morning and night to ensure that it is regenerating for each day.

I would advise, if you don’t already, double cleansing each evening before bed to ensure that your skin is clean after wearing the mask, you can use a cleansing balm, milk or oil but just ensure you double cleanse using warm water and a muslin cloth to remove any unwanted bacteria from all areas of your face and neck.

I would also start to use face masks more regularly, perhaps a few times a week, these will work to draw out any impurities and bacteria which has surfaced onto your skin from wearing the mask and will work deep into the epidermis. A clay mask is best for acne prone skin.

4) Only wear a mask when you need to

Only wear a mask when you need to. Other than that, ensure you are removing your mask as much as possible to allow your skin to breathe and to make sure your mask doesn’t become too sweaty.

Once you take your mask off, put it in a safe place away from anywhere it could gather bacteria, perhaps pop it in a material pouch or draw string bag for safety.

5) Add in anti-oxidants and balms into your daily skincare

If you are heading onto public transport or to the shops, you should think about adding in some anti-oxidant skincare products into your regime to keep your skin healthy and to protect it against any harmful pollutants as well as any bacteria from under the mask.

Vitamin C is a powerful anti-oxidant ingredient which will work to keep your skin healthy and illuminated and will neutralize any free radicals, it will also work to repair any damaged cells from wearing the mask.

Once lockdown is eased and clinics start to open again, I would advise going for a professional Vitamin C skin peel to get rid of any damaged and dead skin cells and to brighten your appearance.

If you find your skin has become irritated due to wearing a mask, you may also want to apply a rich skin balm onto the damaged areas which will help to repair and soothe the sore areas overnight.

Photo by Flavio Gasperini