The Pro Guide To Avoiding ‘Maskne’ When You’re Wearing A Fabric Face Mask


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Strike ‘maskne’ from this week’s agenda

How does wearing a fabric face mask affect your skin?
Between a heat wave, wearing make-up and just the simple act of breathing, it’s inevitable that covering our faces with fabric on the regular isn’t exactly going to be good for our skin.
‘Wearing a mask around your face for prolonged periods of time leads to friction from the mask against the surface of your skin,’ explains skin-focussed doctor Dr Kemi Fabusiwa.
‘This increased friction irritates the skin. When you combine this irritation with sweat, heat, oil and bacteria, you have the perfect stomping ground for bacterial growth, inflammation and the development of acne.’
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Yup, the dreaded ‘maskne’ is a totally real prospect. And, unfortunately, it’s not just something to watch out for if you’re already acne-prone. ‘If you start noticing shallow white spots along the outline of your mask, there is a good chance that you’re experiencing”Acne mechanica” – the type of acne caused by friction from prolonged pressure of a material on the skin,’ says Dr Fabusiwa.
So what skin-destroying culprits should we be keeping an eye out for?
Unfortunately for our faces, wearing a fabric mask brings with it bacteria, and we’re not talking about the good
‘Bacteria grow best in warm, moist environments, making the skin underneath our face masks the prime surroundings for bacterial colonisation,’ says Dr Fabusiwa. ‘Bacteria can get trapped inside our pores along with sweat and oil and this leads to inflammation and the formation of spots.’
Edward Berthelot
2. Humidity/Sweat
The real kicker about wearing a fabric face mask? Even breathing is bad for your skin. Yes, really. ‘The moisture and vapour from breathing are trapped in the mask creating an ideal hosting for pathogens, helping them to grow out of control,’ explains cosmetic dermatologist Dr Tiina Meder.
‘You could be left with redness, itching, breakouts and scaling in the mid and lower part of the face.’
‘It is important to take off your mask when it becomes damp or wet, so if you’re in a space where wearing one in mandatory, for a long period of time, take spares and change them regularly.’
3. Make-Up
After months of working from home with little to no reason to wear an actual outfit, we’re finally going outside, and with our new excursions comes a whole new reason to put some make-up on.

But, as much as we might love wearing a full face of make-up, our fabric face masks aren’t so into it.
‘Skip the make-up if you can (you can’t see it under the mask anyway),’ advises Dr Fabusiwa. ‘Any liquid products such as foundation and concealer might be contributing to blocked pores and a moist bacteria-friendly environment. As well as a moist environment, make-up pots and brushes provide another source of entry for bacteria onto your skin.’
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How often should you wash your fabric face mask and with what?
To avoid bacteria build up, regularly washing your face mask is necessary. According to
WHO guidelines
you need to ‘Wash the mask in soap or detergent, preferably with hot water, at least once a day.’
But what to wash with that won’t make our face even more angry? According to experts in clothing care The Steamery, a gentle detergent is the one. ‘Use a detergent especially made for people with sensitive skin, as they only contain mild ingredients that are kind to your skin as well as being free from perfume.’
Christian Vierig
3 Fabric Face Mask Skin Issues And How To Treat Them
Fabric Face Mask Skin Issue No.1 – ‘Maskne’
Before the pandemic we’d never even heard the phrase ‘maskne’, let alone had to consider it when applying our skincare. But, thanks to a complexion-ruining combination of friction, bacteria and sweat, even those without acne-prone skin can be at risk from some surprise spots.
‘We know that”maskne” occurs due to friction and irritation of the mask against the skin which is exacerbated by bacteria, sweat and oil,’ says Dr Fabusiwa.
How to treat ‘maskne’
Switch up your skincare routine.
Start double cleansing, making sure your pores are totally cleansed of the dirt, bacteria and impurities that have built up underneath the mask throughout the day.
Consider using active ingredients
such as benzoyl peroxide, niacinamide and salicylic acid to give your skin an extra hand in fighting the acne.
Moisturise your skin well
, once the mask is taken off to protect the skin’s barrier function. Well-moisturised skin, is much more able to defend against bacteria and is less likely to become inflamed.
ELLE Edit: ‘Maskne’ Treatments

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