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Is Your Mask Causing Maskne?

Simple Ways to Treat & Prevent Maskne

Girl with Maskne Looking in a Mirror

I’ve been obsessing over everyone’s incredibly stylish mask vibes. Bright colors. Fun prints. Handmade. So many of you have taken mask fashion to the next level, and I'm totally in. After two full years of many of us wearing face masks, we've been helping an average of five people a day in our Bend retail store with "maskne". Whoever coined that new word is brilliant.

Maskne is combination of acne and irritation from wearing face masks frequently and for prolonged times. As someone working in a store all day, five days a week, I have (along with our entire team!) experienced my own challenges with breakouts around my nose, mouth, chin and jawline. At this point, it seems you're a rare person if this hasn't affected you yet!

The reason maskne happens is because wearing a mask can increase moisture buildup, which can cause bacteria to grow and spread. If your skin is experiencing irritation and breakouts, don’t worry. We've found a few simple tried and true ways and products to treat and prevent maskne.

Use a New Disposable Mask Each Day or Wash Your Reusable Mask Daily

While I hate to throw away non-recyclable masks, it seems that they are more effective in preventing the spread of viruses than cloth masks. Be sure to toss yours regularly. For those of you who opt for reusable cloth face masks, wash it daily using hot water (unless otherwise recommended) and a gentle detergent. Harsh detergents have the potential to make maskne worse. You can toss it in the washing machine or wash it by hand.

Disinfect Your Mask Throughout The Day

Our mouths are full of all sorts of bacteria and as we exhale, these are carried out on tiny water droplets and lodge on the inside of our face masks. Eww! This, along with moisture and warmth, creates the perfect opportunity for bacteria to grow- and infect our pores. Our in-house esthetician, Tammy Howland, came up with a brilliant idea for keeping your mask clean. Every couple hours or so, remove your mask and spritz it with the Yarrow & Willow Bark BHA Toner. (*Ask us for a free mister for your aos toner!). Three key ingredients: witch hazel, licorice and radish root ferment are all known antibacterials and will keep your mask fresh and clean.

Cleanse Your Face Twice a Day

Now’s the time to take care of your skin with a cleanser that isn’t irritating or drying. Your face wash should cleanse away dirt, oil and bacteria to help treat and prevent breakouts. I recommend the Apple Chamomile Cleansing Gel. It’s gentle enough to use every day yet leaves your skin feeling squeaky clean. If your skin is on the drier side, you may find the Youth in Bloom Hydrating Cleanser to be a great fit, in fact, all of our facial cleansers are gentle and non-irritating, so feel free to choose whichever one works best for your unique skin.

If you have limited time, grab the Yarrow & Willow Bark BHA Toner. Just one wipe sweeps away dirt, oil and impurities that could be causing maskne. There’s no need to rinse, which is perfect when you’re constantly on the go.

Use a Serum That Treats Breakouts

We've seen some great success with our Willow Bark Pore Refining Serum. I like to use it right after a toner and before applying my moisturizer. The willow bark (natural salicylic acid) works all day (or all night, depending on when you use it), breaking up oil and gunk in the pores. Licorice extract kills bacteria and helps lighten scars. The lightweight gel absorbs quickly and smells fresh and soothing. Use it anytime as a spot treatment or all-over serum to keep your complexion smooth and clear.

Wear a Moisturizer That Doesn't Clog Your Pores

This one may seem a little counterintuitive, especially if face masks are causing the production of extra moisture. But, hear me out. Oil-free moisturizers give your skin the good kind of hydrating moisture that can serve as a protective barrier. If your skin is on the oily side, I recommend the Yarrow Oil Free Moisturizing Gel. The stars of this lightweight gel- detoxifying yarrow, soothing willow bark and healing frankincense--work synergistically in a moisturizing base of vegan hyaluronic acid to create a protective matte veil.

If your skin can experience dryness even while you're breaking out, you may want to step up the moisture a notch and use the Goji Mate' Ultralight Moisturizer. Packed with antioxidants, calming cucumber and mineral spf (titanium dioxide), this lightweight lotion nourishes your skin without clogging your pores.

Skip the Makeup

It can be tempting to reach for the foundation and concealer to cover up your maskne. But, this could actually cause further irritation and clog pores even further. Let your skin breathe and give it time to heal by flaunting your natural beauty whenever possible.

If you absolutely need to wear some makeup, I recommend starting with a primer specifically designed to treat breakouts. I love the Jane Iredale Smooth Affair Primer for Oily Skin. It noticeably reduces the appearance of pores and soothes blemishes while creating a smooth, matte finish. Jane Iredale also makes an effective Disappear Concealer with willow bark (natural salicylic acid) that treats breakouts while providing full coverage.

What to Do About Skin Irritation From Face Masks

You may be experiencing irritation instead of or along with the maskne. If your skin has started feeling sensitive, red, dry, itchy or even painful, you'll need to create a barrier between your skin and the mask causing the irritation. Using a heavier moisturizer may be the cure.

Our thickest facial moisturizers are the Herbal Day Cream (spf 15) and Herbal Night Cream (no spf). I'm wearing the day cream as I write this. My cheeks and jaw have felt itchy and irritated for the last couple days, probably due to the combination of cold wind (from cross-country skiing early every morning) and wearing a disposable face mask for several hours each day. Along with soothing ingredients like rose hydrosol, the cocoa butter provides a barrier that keeps the face mask from further irritating my sensitive skin.

The next step up in protection and calming capability is our versatile Zinc Rescue Cream. Originally created as a diaper ointment (barrier protection, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial), this cream is being used by our customers for everything from eczema, psoriasis, to diaper rash and even as a treatment to keep skin healthy between radiation treatments. A few of our customers swear it's their favorite facial sun protection. The high amount of zinc oxide is both soothing to the skin and provides a broad spectrum sunscreen.

The Takeaway

Maskne may be frustrating, but take heart. It's pretty simple to treat and prevent.

  • Wear a clean mask.
  • Cleanse your skin regularly with a gentle cleanser.
  • Treat breakouts throughout the day and overnight with natural salicylic acid (willow bark).
  • Use a lightweight moisturizer that treats breakouts as it hydrates.
  • Lighten up or discontinue using makeup.
  • Create a soothing barrier for irritated skin.

How are you dealing with your maskne?
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Angelina Swanson is the founder and chief formulator at aos [ angelina organic skincare ]. A self-described plant chemistry nerd, she's spent more than thirty years researching and developing skincare formulas that keep our skin healthy and radiant.

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Disclaimer: Content found on www.aosskincare.com including text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.


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