Maskne is real and it's not cute. Coined from the combination of the phrase "mask acne", maskne is the breakout of zits where the mask covers the face, namely the mouth and nose.
What happens is that the mask fabric traps bacteria, oils, sweat and pollutants against the skin, clogging pores and triggering acne. When we talk and perspire, it creates a moist environment under the fabric which lets bacteria thrive. The chafing of fabric against the skin also damages the skin barrier, resulting in sensitivity and even more acne.
After months of trying various ways to get rid of that visible patch of cystic acne and redness on my face, I'm happy to report that I've figured out a routine to get rid of and prevent maskne.
Keep reading to find out more!
#1 Only 100% natural fabrics will do
I used to wear those affordable polyester masks with cute designs, but these fabrics are not breathable and create a cesspool of bacteria trapped against the skin. Avoid synthetic materials and go for a 100% natural fabric mask made of cotton, linen or silk. These are lightweight and allow air to flow through, minimising moisture build-up.
#2 Take note of what you use to wash your masks
An unexpected culprit of maskne is the laundry detergent. Those that contain fragrances may irritate the skin while you're wearing the mask. Another mistake I made was tossing my masks in the washing machine and using fabric softener. Most fabric softeners work by coating fabrics with a layer of silicone which makes them soft but may exacerbate acne.
Make sure you wash your masks with gentle, fragrance free detergent and don't use fabric softener!
#3 Go makeup-free
It's not easy, but going bare-faced helped my skin clear up. Makeup can mix with oils and sweat to create a pore-clogging situation. This only leads to a cycle of acne flare-ups, concealing it with makeup, and more flare-ups.
#4 Store folded clean masks in paper or fabric bags
It goes without saying that you should have spare masks to change into rather than using one mask all day. That said, how you store your clean masks matters too.
Avoid plastic bags as they can cause condensation which may breed bacteria on the masks even before you put them on. Go for a sealable paper or fabric bag instead and clean it regularly. The face mask should also be folded such that the inner surface isn't in contact with the bag or the surroundings.
#5 Focus on repairing the skin barrier
You might be tempted to pile on the scrubs and acne treatments, but that will only irritate your skin further and worsen acne. Focus on repairing and strengthening the skin barrier instead! A damaged skin barrier lets acne-causing bacteria penetrate the skin easily, making the skin vulnerable to acne, sensitivity and premature ageing.
Keeping your skin hydrated with a water-based moisturiser is the best way to boost your skin barrier. And yes, there's a difference between a moist environment and moisturised skin! The former worsens acne and the latter helps prevent it.
I've been using THE FACE SHOP Yehwadam Artemisia moisturising skincare range for a month in an attempt to soothe my sensitive, acne-prone skin and repair my skin barrier.
Its star, Yehwadam Artemisia, comprises of three key ingredients: Artemisia Capillaris (Mugwort) is a soothing ingredient with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, Houttuyniae Herba (Heartleaf) helps treat blemishes and soothe sensitivity while Water Lily has a powerful moisturising effect.
After cleansing my skin in the morning, I lightly pat the Yehwadam Artemisia Soothing Moisturizing Toner ($55) on to my skin which instantly relieves that tight, dehydrated feeling. This moisturising effect lasts all day thanks to its formulation where it creates a moisture-sealing film over the skin.
My nose and chin area tends to get oily - a sign of dehydration where the skin overproduces oil to compensate for the lack of moisture. To add an extra dose of hydration, I apply a layer of Yehwadam Artemisia Soothing Moisturizing Cream ($85) which is formulated for oily, acne-prone skin.
This cream became my daytime go-to as it's ultra-lightweight and sinks into the skin immediately. This means I can put my mask on right away! Once I started applying this cream, I noticed less redness and irritation around my cheeks where the mask rubs against the skin.
As the skin does most of its cell repair while we're sleeping, I added an extra step between the toner and cream for my night routine: the Yehwadam Artemisia Soothing Moisturizing Emulsion ($55). This is a lighter version of the cream that can be used in replacement or in addition to it, depending on your preference. It contains plant-derived emulsifiers and moisturising ingredients that help to build a barrier and lock in moisture. Like the other two products in the range, the emulsion is rich and nourishing yet feels imperceivable on the skin.
This extra step makes a lot of difference! In the morning, my skin looks plump and moisturised as if I'd just applied it. It helped reduce the oiliness in my t-zone too.
After a month of this skincare and lifestyle routine, my maskne has finally calmed down and my skin has less signs of sensitivity like redness. I've also stopped getting new breakouts and my skin feels smoother and softer. Of course, the luxurious green glass and white bottles that look so pretty on my vanity is a plus!
You can shop THE FACE SHOP Yehwadam Artemisia range and more in stores and enjoy 20% off the entire range from 22 - 28 Feb 2021.
This post is brought to you by The Face Shop.
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Text by: GirlStyle SG