Welcome to fall! Pumpkin Spiced everything, backpacks and pencils, leaves changing colour. The beginning of every new season brings with it changes all around including in our skincare regimen. This fall is extra special because our skincare regimen changes have to consider the changes in our skin from prolonged use of face masks. These skin changes are known as mask acne or "Maskne".
Normally, this is a month of excitement - for parents and kids - returning to school routines from a couple of months off for summer. This year, we all know is a little different. Whether you’ve decided to work or learn at home or in the classroom, masks have become an essential part of everyday life. In many places, they’re required in all indoor establishments, or when we cannot maintain a 2 meter (6 feet) distance from each other. It’s this prolonged wearing of a face mask that causes mask acne.
The causes of mask acne are simple. Our skin isn’t able to breathe the way it’s used to when wearing a mask every day. The friction created by the mask on our skin causes points of dryness, irritation, and for some, acne. The environment behind the mask is hot and moist. It's a breeding ground for microorganisms and bacteria - which sounds pretty gross - but it gets trapped under there.
What this means is that our skincare routine needs to be adjusted a little to compensate for these extra stressors on the skin. Here are 3 simple tips to help you treat and protect your skin from mask acne:
Protect your skin
If you’re starting to notice acne appearing along your jawline or nose, the first thing you need to do is to protect your skin before you put on your mask. Similar to going outside in -20 degree weather, you need to build a layer of product on the skin to prepare it to go outside, or in this case, behind a mask.
What you need here is an occlusive - a thicker moisturizer that will create a barrier between your skin and the mask. This can be as simple as a shea butter product or using a thicker moisturizer. I like the Helena Lane Shea Butter moisturizers, they are water-free and create a beautiful occlusive barrier on your skin.
Using an occlusive product doesn't mean that your skin doesn’t breathe. It means that it's creating a protective coating on the skin. There are so many different products on the market (some can be very expensive) but you don’t need to spend a fortune on a thicker moisturizer. Affordable brands like Helena Lane Organic Skincare would work wonders in protecting your skin in minus temperatures as well as behind a mask.
Don’t forget your lips in this step! Using lip products builds up a layer of protection on the lips. Now that our lips are tucked behind a mask, it's easy to neglect them. Remember to still use a good nourishing lip balm.
In a pinch, if you notice your lips are drying out, you can create a little lip mask by mixing a bit of mashed up avocado and honey and applying it on your lips at night. Just remember: lip masks should be applied at home (either in the early morning or at night) to treat your lips. You don’t want to create a big mess behind the mask.
Cleanse your skin
Just like you have to protect your skin to prevent mask acne, you have to cleanse your skin after wearing a mask for the day.
Wearing masks for prolonged periods traps moisture and other microorganisms. This means your pores may be getting clogged. Using a light cleanser will help to keep your skin and pores clear. It will remove sweat, dirt, and bacteria that has been collecting throughout the day.
Using a light foam cleanser like Zyderma Foaming Cleanser will help remove all the impurities without stripping your skin. Using it in combination with the Zyderma Konjac Facial Sponge will help to gently exfoliate your skin while cleansing. Pay special attention to areas of concern where you might be breaking out more.
You could also pair an oil cleanser (like Helena Lane Oil Facial Cleanser) with a second cleanser (like Graydon Aloe Milk Cleanser) for a deeper double cleanse. This can be done a few times a week, as the extra step of double cleansing is not necessary daily. Just remember to be gentle on the irritated areas of your face, so you can allow the mask acne to heal.
Fighting bacteria behind the mask
Now that you have the steps for cleansing and protecting your skin while wearing a mask. The next steps are to fight bacteria from forming.
To begin with, I would not recommend wearing foundation or makeup under the mask for two reasons:
- It will create a big mess on your mask and
- It will add more ingredients onto your skin preventing it further from breathing.
Just keep makeup minimal by using mascara and a brow product to accentuate your eyes. Any product that does get trapped behind the mask or visor will not help you fight mask acne.
The product I love for fighting bacteria on the skin is the Zyderma Clarifying Cream. It’s one of the best acne products I have found in the green beauty industry. It helps to fight bacteria and create healthier skin biome. Zyderma Clarifying cream contains micro silver as a key ingredient. Micro silver is an antibacterial ingredient that helps to continuously fight microorganisms. As the cream absorbs into your skin, it leaves the silver ions behind to do the dirty work.
Try to steer clear of harsh ingredients when looking at fighting mask acne. Avoid salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide if you decide to give a gentler acne product a try. Look for skin products such as Zyderma’s Clarifying Cream which are light and can be used under your thicker moisturizers.
Finally, make sure that your skincare products have absorbed well into your skin before you put on your mask.
Bonus tip - what you wash your masks with matters
Laundry soap might not be the first thing to cross your mind when fighting mask acne. However harsh, heavily scented detergents will also affect how your skin reacts to prolonged mask-wearing. Apart from irritating your skin, you are breathing in these detergent ingredients all day long. That is not good for your skin or your health. Emma Rohmann of Green At Home has fantastic tips on selecting a fragrance-free laundry soap. Check out her free resources section for a free, and easy diy laundry soap recipe.
I hope these 3 tips help you keep your skin healthy and happy as we move forward with life this fall. Creating this defense system for your skin will help fight the bacteria formed and protect your skin in the long term.
Let me know if you have any questions about this topic or anything else beauty-related.
I hope everyone’s fall starts off strong and safe!