Our lifestyle has drastically changed due to the pandemic. From the daily use of face masks to the lesser use of make-up, we now practice completely new habits. But with these new habits and lifestyle changes come unexpected side effects as well, such as the increase of skin concerns, particularly the so-called maskne.
Maskne might not have been a huge concern when most people were working from home (cause you don’t need to wear a mask at home, obvs), but now that more and more people are returning to the office, it’s a growing issue. 8List.ph sat down with dermatologist Dr. Coreen Copuyoc-Sampedro to get a better understanding of maskne and how to combat it.
What is maskne?
Maskne is the breakout of acne or skin irritation due to the frequent wearing of face masks and is the most common skin concern during the pandemic.
Doc Coreen herself shared that she has had personal experience with maskne. “I do experience maskne myself. However, since I’m a dermatologist, I treat my breakouts before they get worse. But in my teens, I was really prone to acne, and there’s always that possibility of breaking out for anyone born with acne-prone skin. I knew that wearing a mask for 8 hours or more straight can really cause break-outs, and this is the case for many healthcare workers and frontliners in other fields of work.”
According to Doc Coreen, maskne is actually an umbrella term for skin conditions due to mask-wearing. It commonly refers to acne, but it can also be used as shorthand for friction and contact dermatitis, which is irritation from constant mask usage.
What happens under the mask that causes maskne?
So what happens underneath the mask that can to the breakout of maskne? Our skin has sebaceous glands that produce oil or sebum, as well as acne-causing bacteria. When we wear a mask for a prolonged period of time, this can affect the enclosed area of the skin. The skin, according to Doc Coreen, becomes “very conducive to changes that promote more oil, more bacteria, and lesser skin turnover.”
But aside from the oil and bacteria on our faces, we also have to deal with additional factors due to our mask-wearing, such as how long we wear masks, our environment, and the material the mask is made of. Your skin type will also factor in. “If you’re oily in the first place, you will get oilier with the mask, and then you’ll also sweat more,” says Doc Coreen. “And all of those combined promote maskne.”
What are the best tips on how to prevent maskne breakout?
So what can we do to prevent a maskne breakout? This is Doc Coreen recommends:
- Consistent cleansing with the right cleanser. “I would usually recommend to cleanse your face two times a day and every time you sweat.” Doc Coreen suggested in the morning before you leave the house and when you get back, and every time you sweat.
- Choosing the right mask. Doc Coreen emphasized that protection from COVID-19 is still our priority, but you could choose your mask carefully to prevent acne as well. “You choose a mask that is snug, but not too tight, and with at least two cloth coverings. And if you’re really acne-prone, another thing that you can do is to wear a cloth mask under your surgical mask or the mask that you’re wearing.” You can keep extra fresh cloth masks to change into when you feel like you’re sweating too much under the one you’re currently using.
- Eating healthily. “It’s still very important because acne can be caused by inflammation and it’s important to avoid the things in your diet that can promote inflammation.” Doc Coreen said that the foods to avoid are sweets, dairy or cow’s milk, or basically food with a high glycemic index.
- Practicing good sleeping habits. According to Doc Coreen, sleep will help you maintain your hormonal balance to reduce your oil production. “It really helps to maintain hormonal balance. Because when you have hormonal imbalance that kicks in your oil production or sebum production, and this promotes acne.”
- Practicing proper skincare. While doing your own skincare at home may be able to treat your maskne, if it gets worse, Doc Coreen recommended consulting with a professional. “It’s okay if you try to treat it on your own first because it’s not that bad yet. But then if it’s not working and it’s still getting worse, then it’s time to see a professional.”
- Taking mask breaks (if you can). If you get an opportunity where you’re properly socially distanced from other people, remove your mask for a few minutes and allow your skin to breathe. Use a mask lanyard to make these breaks easier.
- Applying your makeup strategically. If you want to wear makeup when going to school or work, Doc Coreen suggests simply focusing the look on your eyes, since that’s the part most seen nowadays. But if you do want to wear more makeup on the bottom half of your face, you should be prepared to change your mask more and choose non-comedogenic, lighter formulations.
What’s the ideal skincare routine for people suffering from maskne?
Doc Coreen said there is no one universal ideal skincare for everyone. But some important steps would be the following:
- Cleansing (it’s a must for every person suffering from maskne)
- Spot treatment, particularly for active acne
- Moisturizing (this should be done day and night ideally), and
- Sun protection
It is still recommended to see a professional to determine the right treatment for your skin, but these four steps are usually foundational for treating maskne.
How to choose your skincare products
Don’t know what product will work best for you? First, you’ll need to determine your skin type. This is a must when addressing any skin concern, even maskne.
To determine your skin type, Doc Coreen recommends washing your face and observing how it feels after 30 minutes to an hour in a room temperature setting. “If you’re starting to form oil in most areas in a shiny, greasy type, then you’re oily definitely,” she says.”If it’s still dry and tight and scaly after 30 minutes, then that’s dry skin. If it’s half-half, that’s mostly the combination pattern, then that’s combination skin. And then if you react to a lot of products, then you’re sensitive. If it’s just normal, like it still looks the same as when you washed it off, then you have normal skin and you’re very lucky.”
What ingredients should we look out for in skincare products?
Doc Coreen cited salicylic acid as one of the best ingredients you need to look out for to fight maskne (or any type of acne really). Salicylic acid is actually a BHA or beta hydroxy acid that fights and controls acne-causing bacteria by reaching deep in the pore, decreasing the oiliness, and acting as a superficial exfoliant to remove any impurities and deep cleanse the skin. It unclogs blocked skin pores that allow your acne to shrink and heal.
Another good ingredient to look for is vitamin C for clarifying the skin. This vitamin helps brighten your skin, clearing dullness and discoloration due to maskne.
You can find these two ingredients in the Garnier Anti-Acne Cleanser. It contains both salicylic acid and vitamin C for deeply cleansed and instantly brighter skin. This advanced anti-acne cleanser is a 3-in-1 formula that has been tested by dermatologists and regular consumers, and it works!
But of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to skincare. When trying out a new product, make sure to test for any sensitivities. Which brings us to our next point…
Are spot tests really necessary?
You’ve probably already heard of spot tests, but when was the last time you’ve actually done one? These spot tests (also known as patch or skin tests) are essential when trying a new product, especially if you’ve got sensitive skin. It’s a simple way to check and make sure if a product fits your skin or if you have an allergy to an ingredient in the product.
To do a spot test, choose a clear patch of skin. Doc Coreen suggests the back of your ear. Wash the area, then apply a small amount of product onto that patch of skin. Try it on your skin for three days, or even up to seven days just to be sure. Watch out for any reactions, and if you do experience any pain or itching, make sure to wash off the product right away.
The bottom line
“Skincare is all about consistency, so just be consistent, and form a good habit, so that you can prevent breakouts,” says Doc Coreen. “It’s cliche, but prevention is better than treatment.”
Aside from doing trial and error on your skin, one way you can jump start forming good habits with your skincare is to educate yourself about your skin and skin concerns. Seeing a professional is an option, but the pandemic has made consultations a little more challenging.
This is exactly why Garnier started hosting live streams to help people understand acne much better even from their homes. It allows people to see professionals and ask questions from the comforts of their own home. Doc Coreen herself has joined Garnier in discussing different skin concerns and answering questions from the live audience. Looking for skincare advice? Head over to Garnier’s Facebook page to watch previous livestreams and to learn about the next schedule.
The quotes from the interview have been condensed and edited for clarity.
Disclaimer: Dr. Coreen Copuyoc-Sampedro is not an endorser of the brand, and her participation is not for product promotion or advertisement. The opinions and information stated in this interview are her own and should not be taken to represent the opinion of her professional societies.