Here are some easy, natural ways to tame “maskne.” This type of acne is caused by moist and bacteria-filled conditions from wearing masks, which some people are susceptible to. From proper cleansing to using essential oils safely and effectively, you can have clear skin again!
Isn’t it interesting how words can be added to our language based on current conditions in society? Well, maskne, or acne that’s caused by wearing masks, is one of those new words some of us are using now. One of my herbal students recently asked me what she can do to get rid of this unpleasant, unsightly, and sometimes painful acne.
Here are some natural and effective things you can do at home to help calm and soothe troubled skin. But first, let’s be on the same page with terminology:
Acne can have several presentations on our skin, and there are different kinds of acne. Some of us already experience acne types, even without wearing a mask. However, the conditions caused by mask-wearing exacerbate a person’s chances of either getting acne or having an explosion if you’re already a sufferer of acne.
NOTE: This is NOT a treatise on why you shouldn’t wear a mask. Some states require citizens to wear masks in order to protect self and others. This article is simply a collection of handy ways to deal with maskne, an unpleasant side effect of mask wearing.
FTC Disclosure: There may be affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you happen to make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a very small commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.
Types of Acne:
There are several types of acne that maskne can irritate existing acne conditions and increase or cause new outbreaks.
As a long term rosacea sufferer, I well know how irritating and painful this type of acne can be. Red bumps, sometimes pustules, and painful irritated reddened skin are hallmarks of rosacea. This type of acne usually has a genetic aspect, however, those with sensitive skin can suffer as well. Wearing a mask often can cause flare-ups of rosacea that’s under control or cause existing rosacea to worsen significantly.
Typical acne is caused by clogged pores. Some people have problems with acne, which is when your pores clog up with dirt, oil, and dead skin cells. Those with oily skin often have problems with this type of acne. This type of acne can include blackheads, pustules, white-heads, and larger cysts.
This type of acne is caused when the hair follicles on the facial area or other areas of the body become infected or inflamed. Bacteria and fungus love the high humidity found inside your mask. Raised red bumps at the follicle site tend to look like a breakout of pimples. This type of acne can be painful and irritating.
Those with sensitivities to chemicals or other allergens may have problems with contact dermatitis. This type of acne presents when there’s a reaction to chemicals or various fabrics that irritate the skin. Masks made with rough surfaces or that contain chemical compounds may cause this kind of acne.
Why Do Wearing Masks Cause or Worsen Acne?
There are several reasons why wearing a mask might exacerbate acne conditions on your face. Although some causes of acne fall well outside wearing a mask, such as hormonal influences, other causes can be directly attributed to wearing a mask. Especially if your acne is “new” since wearing a mask, or if it becomes worse, you can assume it’s probably “maskne.”
1) Irritation from the Fabric
Some fabrics are treated with chemicals that can irritate the skin. Other fabrics in and of themselves are skin irritants. This irritation can cause bumps and redness.
Fabrics also rub against the skin when wearing a mask. This constant friction can also cause irritations and redness.
Finally, when you wash your mask, if you’re using detergent that contains harsh chemicals such as fragrances, this can absolutely irritate many skin types. Try to use detergents that are natural, gentle, and are fragrance-free. If you like scent, try some essential oils, which can actually contribute to helping your maskne. I’ll talk more about this below.
2) Humidity Inside the Mask
Your breath contains moisture, and over time, this creates a very humid, warm environment inside your mask. You’ve probably felt this, right? Well, unfortunately, warmth and moisture quickly breed bacteria and fungus, which can create skin infections or worsen clogged pores.
3) Worsened Clogged Pores and Lack of “Breathing”
Our skin is designed to breathe as well as naturally exfoliate dead skin cells. Inside a mask, your skin isn’t “breathing” as it should, and your natural exfoliation may cause more dead skin cells to clog pores that need to be open.
Rubbing fabric on your skin causes friction. Some of us who are more sensitive to this may experience an irritated type of acne.
How to Help Your Skin and Get Rid of Maskne
1) Proper Cleansing
It’s important to cleanse your face at least twice a day. If you’re in a hot environment where you’re sweating, you may also want to wash at mid-day, too. Use a gentle cleanser that contains ingredients that soothe and help with acne.
It’s easy to make your own facial cleanser that only contains gentle and natural ingredients that soothes and calm irritated skin. Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t be using harsh cleansers that totally strip the oil from your skin. You need a natural lipid layer for moisture and protection, especially with acne.
Here’s an easy to make recipe that has natural anti-microbial properties from the ingredients, including raw honey.
Article: Effective Honey, Orange, Rosemary and Coconut Facial Cleanser
Video: Effective Honey, Orange, Rosemary, and Coconut Facial Cleanser
If you want a great option to purchase, I just love the Tea Tree Facial Cleanser from Lemongrass Spa. It’s gentle, and it fights bacteria.
2) Moisturize with a Noncomedogenic Lotion
Clogged pores are one of the most common reasons for acne. Unfortunately, heavy creams, make-ups, and powders contribute to clogged up pores on our faces. However, it’s still important to moisturize your skin because very dry skin can also cause irritation. Our skin has a natural lipid (oil) layer that helps protect it, and we don’t want this completely stripped away.
The solution is to use moisturizers that are noncomedogenic. Some lotions and facial creams are created to not clog your pores.
Personally, I like just a bit of jojoba oil dabbed onto my skin when I have to wear a mask. Jojoba oil is close to our own lipid layer, and it’s also not an oil. It’s a liquid wax that helps retain moisture on the skin’s surface naturally.
If you want a natural product, you can try the Tea Tree Face Cream. It contains witch hazel and tea tree, along with soothing aloe gel. It’s an excellent option.
You can also make your own light-weight lotion at home. Here’s my dandelion lotion recipe.
And, if you’d rather watch a video, you can see how to make homemade lotion here:
3) Skip the Make Up
I know many women won’t want to hear this, but try leaving your make up off the portion of your face covered by your mask. This can do a lot toward getting rid of maskne because make up tends to contribute to clogged pores. Also, many make-up foundations just aren’t all that gentle.
Besides, your mask rubs it all off anyway.
4) Spot Treat Pustules and Infected Follicles
Using a clean Q-Tip, you can dab a bit of tea tree or rosemary essential oil onto any infected or raised pustules. These essential oils can help dry out the skin while also fighting microbes.
NOTE: Do not do this with rosacea acne. Treat rosacea gently.
5) Wash Your Mask Daily
I hope this goes without saying, but please keep your mask clean.
6) Change Your Mask Two to Three Times a Day
Changing to a clean mask during the day may also help curb the growth of bacteria and fungus that comes into contact with your skin in the hot, humid environment inside the mask.
7) Spray Your Mask (and a Recipe)
Give your mask a nice little spritz a few times a day with an essential oil spray. This will help keep microbes under control while helping you enjoy your mask-wearing experience a little better. Here’s a quick recipe:
In a one-ounce amber glass spray bottle, combine these ingredients in this order:
3 drops tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) essential oil
3 drops lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil
1 tsp vodka
Distilled water to the shoulder
To use this spray, always shake well to disperse the essential oils and spritz into your mask. This is a 1% dilution, and if you like you can double the essential oils for a 2% dilution, which is stronger.
Final Thoughts on Maskne and How to Help
Here in Idaho, our current mask-wearing mandates allow us to choose (for the most part) if we want to wear a mask or not, at least in most public spaces. However, many do need to wear them at work. It’s a never-ending debate. So, we all do what we can do to help, right?
If you’re dealing with “maskne” I hope these tips help! I’d love to know your experiences with it. I honestly hadn’t even heard of maskne until one of my students asked me about it, but I can see where this could be a big problem for many people. Teens, especially, who are already dealing with hormonal changes and pubescent acne, may be bothered by maskne, and this can affect emotions, too.
I hope all of you have clear and lovely skin….naturally.
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Hugs, Health, and Self-Reliance,
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