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The Maskne Issue Is Real (and Our Top 3 Tips to Help)

Maskne — acne and irritation from wearing a mask; as if we needed one more thing to worry about. As we move around with our masks on deep in the throes of this (weird) new normal, we might not really be thinking the surgical mask as another minor inconvenience. Tropika Club knows that the maskne issue is real, so here are our top 3 tips to help.


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What is Maskne?

The rubbing of the masks against our skin can cause micro-tears, allowing bacteria and dirt to clog up our pores. It certainly doesn’t help that surgical masks are designed to block things out. So, everything in the surgical mask stays within it too. As we breathe with the mask, the environment inside the mask becomes hot and moist. And the sweat, oil, and bacteria will start to accumulate. 

All this points to an inevitable disaster — your skin barrier is now damaged. It causes skin issues as your skin becomes more susceptible to the irritating effects of wearing a mask for an extended period.

This is a global affliction. there’s a research letter reporting that at least 83 per cent of healthcare workers in Hubei, China, suffered skin problems on the face, and doctors have been reporting an increase in acne flare-ups in people outside of health care as well. Major South Korean beauty brands Dr. Jart+ and Peach & Lily are even listing collections of “maskne essentials” on their online stores.

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How to prevent acne when wearing face masks:

Tip #1: Find the Right Face Mask

Balancing between protection from the coronavirus and preventing skin irritation is key to finding a face mask that works for you. If you’re not a healthcare or frontline worker, you have the luxury of wearing a mask made from a lighter material, though its best to avoid synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, spandex, and wool.

Get face coverings made out of natural fibres, such as cotton, bamboo, or natural silk. That way you reduce the chance of skin irritation. A reusable cotton cloth mask is one of the best compromises out there since it lets your skin breathe will still offering some protection. However, you should clean it after you use it since bacteria and particles can build up on the mask, not to mention the sweat too.

Wearing masks needn’t be a chore. It could be another opportunity to make a bold, creative expression with face masks. You could never go wrong with these fashionable masks by local designers.

Tip #2: Get Minimal with Your Skincare

A clean mask can only go so far. Stick with gentler products for now: hydrating toners, light serums, gel moisturisers, and sunscreens. Avoid harsh scrubs, thick creams, and heavy-duty exfoliant. They tend to congest the skin’s pores, especially if you have sensitive skin, and the mask will intensify the skin’s absorption of products too. Though sunscreen is still a must.

Instead, go for a gentle cleanse, even if you have oily or acne-prone skin. Depending on your skin condition, you can get facial cleansers with ingredients that soothe the skin, such as hyaluronic acid, aloe, and niacinamide for your skincare routine. If you want to wear a mask after applying products, remember to wait at least five minutes so your skin fully absorbs the products. If you want to treat your breakouts, try an over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide treatment with a 2.5 or 5 per cent concentration, not 10 per cent, and apply only on the spots.

Tip #3: Go Easy on the Makeup

Again, think simple! The fewer products you use for your makeup the better. Ideally, you’d want to avoid makeup on the areas covered by your mask. If you still want something on, wear foundations with lightweight formulas and then blot your skin to gently remove the top layer that’d otherwise be rubbed off and onto your mask. Or, you could try oil-free makeup primers to reduce friction from the mask.

But, nowadays there’s even smudge-proof makeup to wear under your mask.  And you needn’t be entirely minimalist. Let this be an opportunity to show off the windows to your soul

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What You Can Do to Treat Maskne

Don’t panic if you have it! You have to take extra care since some acne treatments have products with inflammatory properties. Refrain from squeezing or popping your pimples, you could risk worsening your inflamed skin.

To treat your breakouts, try an over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide treatment with a 2.5 or 5 per cent concentration, not 10 per cent, and apply only on the spots. You can try products with salicylic acid.

You might have a rash on your face with constant itchiness. It could mean that your skin could have contact dermatitis from the dye or the rubber parts of your cloth masks. Some fabric could release formaldehyde as well, which is a skin irritant. Though hydrocortisone can help treat contact dermatitis, do consult a certified dermatologist for treatment.

If it persists, stress could be behind the outbreak of acne. As much we love comfort food, it’s time to have it in moderation. After all, there’s evidence that chocolate, dairy, and other sugary (high-glycemic) foods cause acne. So get that carton of almond milk and that box of grapes in your next trip to the supermakret. If all else fails, at least your clothe mask can cover up the issue.



A curious wanderlust at heart, Benedict is always out to explore the world around him, and share his discoveries.