Protecting yourself and others during a global pandemic requires making sacrifices. You limit your social gatherings. You manage new formats for work and school. You wear a mask in public. These sacrifices are important.
Still, protecting yourself and others during a global pandemic does not require sacrificing healthy skin. In fact, maintaining a healthy skin routine is an essential component of your overall health.
Unfortunately, though, some of the steps you're taking to protect yourself during the pandemic can make skincare more challenging. Wearing a mask, for example, has put an additional skincare concern on many people's radars—maskne.
What is maskne? What causes it? How can you prevent and treat it? Learn more and explore the answers to these questions below.
Why Is Oil Control Important for Healthy Skin?
Both oil and oil control are important for healthy skin. Skin that has the right amount of oil is better protected from maskne and other issues.
Everyone's skin contains oil. Small glands beneath the skin called sebaceous glands are responsible for producing this natural oil, or sebum. Sebum is normal and healthy, and it keeps your skin hydrated.
Some people's sebaceous glands are more active than others, however. People with oily skin have too much oil. You might have oily skin if you notice that your skin is always shiny. You might also notice an oily residue on your fingers or facial tissue after touching your skin.
Causes and Solutions for Oily Skin
Genetics play a role in determining your skin type. Age, climate, and your skincare routine are also important factors.
You might find that your skin was oilier when you were younger. As you age, though, your skin type may change. Even people with naturally drier skin types can experience oilier skin during the summer months. Other physical changes, like weight gain and frequent breakouts, can further affect the size of your pores. Larger pores are associated with oilier skin.
Finally, problems with your skincare routine can make managing oily skin more difficult.
Using the wrong kinds of skincare products can make your skin oilier than it needs to—or should—be. If you use a product intended for dry or even combination skin on oily skin, it's likely to be much too heavy.
Going overboard on skincare can also be problematic. If you have oily skin, you might be tempted to wash your face more often. While this seems to make sense, it can actually make your skin oilier. If you remove too much of your skin's natural oil, your sebaceous glands can detect an "emergency." They respond, in turn, by ramping up oil production even further.
Unfortunately, oily skin can become unhealthy skin if you don't control the oil. The average person sheds 200,000,000 skin cells every hour. When these dead skin cells mix with excess oil, they can clog the pores. Clogged pores mean breakouts.
Controlling oil with effective skincare products, like Skindinavia's Oil Control Primer and Setting Spray, is thus essential. Skindinavia's Oil Control Prep and Set Kit is designed for oily skin. It is light. It also provides a barrier between the skin and makeup. In these ways, it helps to control heat, oil, and moisture.
What Is Maskne?
For many people, the problem of maskne is new. However, it's actually not a new condition. Maskne refers to irritation that occurs when the skin is exposed to heat, moisture, limited airflow, and friction.
Maskne—meaning acne associated with face masks—is actually a blanket term for various dermatological conditions. The most common of these include acne mechanica, periorificial dermatitis, and irritant contact dermatitis. These conditions share similar symptoms.
The symptoms of maskne include:
- Facial redness
- Bumps that resemble acne
- Scaly or flaking skin
If you notice these symptoms when you take off your mask, you may be struggling with maskne.
What Causes Maskne?
The use of face masks during the pandemic has increased the prevalence and awareness of maskne. Masks and maskne are not new to healthcare workers, though. Athletes who wear helmets and other facial apparatus also battled maskne before the pandemic.
Each of these situations—and the rise of masks for the public—creates ideal conditions for maskne.
Maskne occurs when the pores become clogged. An excess of oil and dead skin cells contributes to clogged pores. Conditions that increase oil production include heat and moisture. When you wear a mask, your skin is exposed to precisely these conditions.
A face mask covers your nose and mouth. Of course, face masks must be breathable. Still, they prevent potentially infected saliva droplets from reaching the air by trapping these droplets behind your mask and against your skin.
Besides moisture from saliva, masks expose your skin to heat. The breath you exhale is warmer than the ambient temperature. When exposed to heat, the skin produces more oil. It also produces additional moisture in the form of sweat.
The combination of saliva, sweat, heat, and ramped up oil production is a recipe for maskne. In this warm, moist environment, acne-causing bacteria thrive.
Friction further worsens these conditions. As the mask rubs against the skin, it irritates the skin's surface, which can become raw and itchy.
It seems natural to scratch or rub your face to relieve this discomfort. Doing so, though, can make maskne worse. When you touch your face, you're transferring bacteria from your fingers. You're also adding another source of friction.
So what is the solution to maskne? If you're maskne free, how can you prevent it? And if you're already suffering from maskne, what can you do? The answers to each of these questions return to the basics of a healthy skincare routine.
How Do You Prevent Maskne?
Preventing maskne means taking care of your skin and engaging in good hygiene practices. It does not mean going without a mask in public. You can protect yourself and others from coronavirus while protecting your skin. The following maskne solutions can help.
Use Your Mask Only When Necessary
Protecting yourself from maskne doesn't require you to go maskless in public. Everyone's safety depends on following health experts' recommendations and mandates regarding face masks.
However, those recommendations and mandates apply when you are in public places. They also apply when you are in contact with people outside your immediate family. When you are working alone in your office, remove your mask. Unless you carpool or use public transportation, your commute is another time when you can let your skin breathe.
Choose a Cotton Mask
The CDC recommends cloth masks made of cotton as effective for preventing the spread of coronavirus among the general public.
Besides providing effective protection against infection, cotton is among the most breathable materials. It also wicks moisture away from the skin. This makes cotton one of the best mask materials for your skin.
Keep Your Mask Clean
Reusable cotton masks are among the healthiest options for your skin. However, they can become unhealthy if you don't take care to keep them clean.
Without proper care, masks can increase bacteria on your skin. Proper care means washing your mask regularly. Take care to use gentle detergents. Harsh detergents, fragrances, and fabric softeners can cause or increase skin irritation.
Proper care also requires keeping your mask clean between washings. When you're not wearing your mask, avoid hanging it from your rearview mirror or tossing it on the passenger seat. Instead, store your mask in a sealed bag when it's not in use. Fold the mask so that the interior surfaces are touching before placing it in the bag.
Finally, remember to wash your hands before removing your mask. Also avoid touching your face as much as possible.
Keep Your Face Clean
Dermatologists recommend washing your face twice a day with mild soap and water. You can also use a facial cleanser made with salicylic acid. Salicylic acid keeps your skin clean by removing dead skin, dirt, and oil.
When you're on the go, gentle face cleansing wipes can keep your skin free of dirt and oil. It can be a good practice to use a face wipe when you put on your mask.
As you work to keep your skin clean, it's also important to avoid going overboard. Remember that washing your skin too often can be counterproductive.
Also avoid using harsh cleansers and other facial products. Ingredients to look for and avoid include retinoids and sodium lauryl sulfate.
Moisturize Your Skin
If you have oily skin, it may seem counterintuitive to add more moisture. However, skin oil and skin hydration are two different things.
You have oily skin if your sebaceous glands produce an excess of oil. If the surrounding skin isn't able to absorb adequate moisture, though, it can still dry out.
Skin that is dehydrated is unhealthy. Its appearance can suffer, and it's more vulnerable to irritation, including maskne.
To keep your skin hydrated, choose a light moisturizer in the morning and at night. It can also help to apply a lightweight moisturizer before putting on your mask but after using a cleansing wipe.
Protect Your Skin From the Sun
The sun's harmful UV rays are powerful. They can reach your skin even when it's covered with a light cotton mask. Excessive exposure to UV rays is linked to skin cancer. The sun's rays can also further dry out your skin and make it vulnerable to irritation.
Many moisturizers contain sunscreen. If yours does not, use a separate product.
If you are indoors most of the day, look for products with an SPF of at least 15. If you are exposed to the sun for longer periods of time, SPFs of 30 or higher are best.
When applying sunscreen products to the face, take care to avoid getting them in your eyes. Keep in mind, though, the area beneath the eyes is a common site for skin cancer. It's, therefore, important to protect this area with a gentle product.
Take Care When Using Makeup
Many women find it impractical to go completely without makeup. Still, you can take steps to limit your makeup use when wearing a mask.
Consider focusing your makeup application on the parts of your face that are visible above the mask. Experiment with products and techniques that make your eyes pop.
If you do apply makeup to the skin beneath your mask, use a water-based primer and setting spray. These products can keep makeup from clogging your pores.
Stress doesn't cause acne. However, it can trigger breakouts. It can also make existing acne worse. Unfortunately, living through a global pandemic is stressful. Nevertheless, there are steps you can take to reduce your stress.
Relaxation techniques, including breathing exercises and meditation, can be especially effective. Getting adequate sleep can also reduce stress and improve overall health. Finally, a healthy diet can promote both physical and mental well-being.
Know Your Skin and Remain Vigilant
Maskne can affect anyone. People with a history of skin conditions, including acne, however, may be even more vulnerable. If you're already using an acne-care regimen, stick with it. Also evaluate your skin's condition frequently and note new symptoms.
Even if your skin is otherwise healthy, vigilance is essential to keep it that way. Check your skin daily for changes that indicate dryness, irritation, and early signs of maskne.
If you notice minor blemishes, over-the-counter acne products can help. Topical products that contain sulfur can be especially helpful. Wiping your entire face with a 2.5% benzoyl peroxide solution each night is also a good preventative step.
If your maskne symptoms don't improve with these at-home measures, it's important to see a dermatologist. Signs of infection, like puss and redness, also require expert advice.
A dermatologist can recommend maskne products that are most effective for your skin type. He or she can also prescribe maskne treatment options, including medications.
The Importance of a Healthy Skincare Routine
The coronavirus pandemic has focused Americans' attention on their health more than ever before. Staying healthy during the pandemic is challenging. With the right information and products, though, it is possible.
At all times, your overall health requires taking care of your skin. A healthy skincare routine involves controlling oil to prevent maskne and other conditions.
As you refine your skincare routine, Skindinavia can help. Contact us with your questions, check out other articles on our blog, or start shopping today.