A face mask or covering is the must-have accessory of the year, but what about “maskne?”
Maybe this next part is too much information but it’s relevant, I promise. I have a sweaty face. There, I said it. For years, my upper lip and face would sweat even before my body. Wearing a cloth mask over my nose and mouth causes even more sweat and heat in that area.
Even before the mask mandate in Vermont, I wore a face mask or covering every time I left my house. It protects my family and my neighbors, and that’s a great reason to wear one all the time. I wash my masks on hot after every use. Depending on a variety of factors including where I am in my cycle (hormones affect my skin like WHOA) and how long I am wearing my mask, I have seen some pimples pop up on my chin and around my mouth. Some people are cleverly calling this condition “maskne,” a combination of the words mask + acne. Here’s how I’ve been treating the maskne breakouts.
I am not a skincare expert, but I am a skincare enthusiast. Some would say, skincare nerd. This is simply my story. While some experts shy away from skin types entirely, for the sake of giving context, my skin type is combination-dry. My recommendations suit a wide variety of skin types plagued with maskne.
If my skin is clear, I don’t wash my face in the morning, I simply splash with water. When I am experiencing a breakout from my face mask or otherwise, I wash my face twice a day. If you’re like me, your instinct in dealing with pimples is to go full throttle and try and destroy them. Ignore this instinct. Be gentle to your skin, even when it’s having a tough time. Come to think of it, that’s solid advice for life, too.
Use a balm cleanser, oil cleanser, or creamy cleanser, it’s up to you. I use all of these with a similar effect, removing makeup, dirt, and sweat and preparing a nice canvas for treatment and moisturizer. In my experience, a cleanser formulated specifically for acne or combination skin isn’t necessary.
To rinse my face without getting water positively everywhere in my bathroom (I know I’m not alone in this obnoxious habit?!), I use soft flannel cloths or washcloths to gently remove my cleanser. I like bamboo cloths marketed for babies since they tend to stay soft after washing. Moms often have a million washcloths lying around, right? I also use double-layered flannel cloths from Etsy (psst…local makers such as One Stitch Back may be able to make them for you!)
This is the step where I throw a tiny bit of firepower at my maskne. I like using a chemical exfoliant to speed up cell turnover and remove dead skin cells that may block pores and exacerbate blemishes. I apply gently all over my face and neck – make sure to get all the way up against the hairline – with a reusable cloth facial round. Then I’ll use a spot treatment. If there’s a particularly painful spot, I use a spot treatment or an acne patch.
Serums and moisturizers are essential, even if you have an oily skin type or have a breakout. Your skin needs moisture. Either it will produce what it needs, or you can use a moisturizing product. I tend to layer lightweight moisturizers and serums. Side note: My current line up is all made in Vermont by incredible women! When I notice redness or if I’ve attacked a blemish too much, I turn to a calming CBD serum.
Every couple days, I use the other kind of face mask. Occasionally, I’ll get really extra with “multi-masking,” where I put masks with different active ingredients only on the areas of the face I need them. I use something meant to combat acne only on my chin and nose, and then a moisturizing mask on the rest of the face. Most of the time, I don’t have that kind of time or patience so I use a mask that can be used all over. Just like the treatment phase, I favor masks that feature gentle chemical exfoliants and have moisturizing qualities.
Another tip is to keep makeup off the area of your face that will be covered by the mask. However, if I know I will be outside for a long time, I may add a light layer of my favorite face powder, RMS “Un” Powder in Translucent all over my nose, chin, and bottom half of my cheeks.
Like most topics, I learn the most via Instagram. It’s true! Here are a few people to follow if you want to dive into skincare.
@laurascottandco is a doctor and mother of 4 who shares a lovely combination of skincare advice and family life.
@shereeneidriss is another doctor and mom based in NYC who shares her experience in a funny and interesting way.
@stylenbeautydoc shares great information about skincare in general as well as in-depth reviews of different products on Instagram and her YouTube channel.
@katiejanehughes is a makeup artist but I credit her with sparking my interest in chemical exfoliants, and for that, I am forever grateful and loyal. Her skin speaks for itself.
@carolinehirons is a beauty and skincare expert based in the UK sharing blunt advice and product recommendations.
@charlotteparler is a self-proclaimed “moisture barrier enthusiast” who shares compelling and informative content every day.