If 2020 wasn’t traumatic enough: enter the plague of fucking MASKNE ZITS. During March and April, I started to experience more and more random breakouts in areas that weren’t usually acne-prone for me. Per usual, I turned to the guidance of my derms and estheticians to crack the code on why I was experiencing it, and what I needed to do to fix it. Skincare for maskne requires a little adjusting from our regular seasonal skincare routines. To keep it simple, I’ve broken down the exact order and timing you’ll need to follow to get those breakouts to take a hike FOR GOOD.
What Causes Maskne?
The cause of maskne is different from regular breakouts for a few reasons. Here’s how: oil gets trapped in your pores, humidity forms in between your skin and the mask, bacteria begins to grow, and you’re exhaling CO2. This is a recipe for massive breakouts. Why? The excess heat from your exhale and pressure of your mask allow the bacteria to spiral out of control.
What To Do
Skincare for maskne follows the idea of LESS is MORE. Ideally, you should go completely BARE under your mask. Yup: that means literally NOTHING. No moisturizer, sunscreen, nothing. The mask is already suffocating your skin, so any added products will actually just add to that. That doesn’t mean not use it, just make sure it’s everywhere except under the mask itself.
How To Prevent It
If you’re able, wash your face again immediately after taking your mask off for the day. After that, a well-rounded skincare for maskne routine to prevent acne is crucial. Questions to ask yourself first: have you struggled with acne or rosacea prior to mask mandates? Some of you may have been experiencing dark spots too. The good news? There IS a way to combat this.
You must cleanse morning and night. You have to get rid of buildup on your skin and pore blockage. Ideally, pick a deep cleaning cleanser. Avoid any cleansers with built-in scrubs or oil. Oil can cause more buildup and work against you when dealing with breakouts. This is why I love my universally pleasing cleanser: it gets deep into the pores to remove impurities! Did you know that the water temperature you use is important too? If you usually have irritation due to rosacea/etc, this is even more crucial. Always use lukewarm water!
Skincare for maskne pro tip: add a steamer to your regimen. Here’s why: steaming is majorly helpful in treating maskne since it balances the skin and begins the deeper cleansing process. Since our skin is experiencing more buildup than normal, it can be a lifesaver to add a steamer to your at-home med-spa. I’ve started using a steamer recently, and I like doing it 3-4 times a week at night. You’ll see results in balancing using it 2-4 times a week.
LED Light Therapy
I’ve been using LED light therapy for the past couple of years or so. Created by NASA science, it gives serious benefits to the skin. It kills bacteria that causes acne. Think of it as an active ingredient! Make sure your skin is completely dry from the moisture of steaming before beginning the process. If you’re seeing any sort of bump or white head, the blue light will be a game-changer. Red light is great for building collagen, which helps reduce inflammation. You’ll see the redness from breakouts become less obvious and smooth down its bump. If you’re serious about investing in a device because other products aren’t quite getting you there, this one will be invaluable. My favorite part? It PREVENTS acne from coming to the surface. To get full results, use it every day for at least 10 weeks.
When choosing skincare for maskne, always make sure you add a peel to your regimen. I never shut up about the benefits of at-home peels, because they truly are a holy grail. It’s already the most common way dermatologists/estheticians treat acne because it decongests/exfoliates pores to get rid of the blockage. I’ve been using the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peels since high school because they’re gentle enough for everyday use. They even come in multiple strengths for every skin type. I’ve linked them below! Since I’m a seasoned pro, I also like a more potent clinical grade one once a week or every 12 days as needed. Since our masks are causing more free radicals to appear, it’s important to use a two-step one. I’m also a fan of glycolic peels as well: I use this more often when I have hormonal breakouts under my chin.
I personally like using a treatment mask a couple of times per week. To treat maskne breakouts, consider adding a hyaluronic acid mask to your routine. Since it soothes the skin, it’s helpful in treating the irritation you’re getting from breakouts. This is key for treating maskne. This is why I love keeping masks like these in my skincare fridge: you’ll get added soothing benefits from the coolness!
Once you’ve completed the previous steps, it’s time to treat with acne-fighting ingredients. Starting this year, I added the acne gel from Dr. Dennis Gross to my routine to combat maskne on my cheeks. This is so wildly effective! I’ve stopped using other acne masks as a result. Here’s why: since you’re putting the gel all over your skin, you’re preventing future breakouts. Spot treating is a waste of time: there’s another pimple waiting to come to the surface 2 weeks later somewhere else! Nip it ALL in the bud with this instead. Use it in your acne prone areas only.
Next up: A long time favorite of mine, the Alpha Beta serum is helpful not only for preventing breakouts but also getting rid of blackheads. You can use it all over, or spot treat! I like to use it only on my nose and cheeks and under my chin. You’ll also notice your pores are less obvious as a result. Pores don’t get smaller, they just get cleaned out, which gives the appearance of smaller pores. Follow up with a niacinamide serum as well for redness of all types: I love the Stress Rescue Serum, and use it AM/PM. Deadass: you’ll see results in minutes.
Remember this: AVOID OIL BASED MOISTURIZERS. Don’t work against your progress! I swear by clinical brands to treat all forms of my acne: hormonal, and maskne breakouts. The moisturizer pictured is phenomenal! Dr. Zenovia has created one of the most luxe feeling moisturizers I’ve ever used. The aloe helps soothe the skin. I’ve linked my other top faves below! Key ingredients to look for: aloe, hyaluronic acid. Avoid your heavier creams like ceramides unless you have more mature skin/dry skin.
Here’s the sitch on sunscreens: avoid chemical sunscreens if you’re suffering from acne. Physical mineral ones are going to act as armor to physically block the sun’s rays from your skin, without irritating your skin. They also rub into your skin much easier: if you hate sunscreen fighting your makeup, check the ones below! I wear them under makeup or alone because they’re so fuss-free.