Maskne: Why it Happens and What to Do

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Once upon a time, we all believed that acne was really just a teenage thing, an act of adolescence that would end as soon as we hit adulthood. That was freaking hilarious! Here we are now, in the throes of grownupness, and pimples continue to rear their literal heads, seemingly popping up whenever they want.

To make matters worse, the pandemic isn’t offering any protection to our complexions. From the stress of unemployment, ill health, isolation, and financial ruin to the diets rich in sugar, coffee, and chocolate (oh, and the optional showering), the face of Corona is a face covered in blemishes.

But another reason we’re so pimple prone is from our masks.

Now, I know that the whole mask thing is controversial, though I’d be remiss if I didn’t say I don’t quite understand why. If there’s even a chance that masks can prevent spread, then I’m all for them.

I understand that freedom is important to others, with so many people speaking on the issue as if it’s on par with a constitutional amendment. But the right to bare faces is no right to bear arms. Besides, if given the option to wear a mask that may help stop the virus (and help return us to normalcy), then why not take it? Wearing a mask is a whole lot less dramatic than wearing a ventilator.

All of this is to say I’d never argue that people should rip off their masks, even if I could do without the side of zits.

So, in a mask-wearing world, what’s the solution to maskne?

It helps if we know why it happens in the first place. Essentially the friction, pressure, humidity, and blocked pores brought on by masks make a hospitable environment for bacteria, which leaves us breaking out more than usual.

There is a silver lining though – Netflix might be the only one who sees your cratered skin and Netflix doesn’t judge. What better time to have a face full of pimples than during a quasi- quarantine when you’re spending so much time at home?

Still, we want to ban the breakouts, stopping COVID and pimple promoting horse it rode in on. And the following six tips might help:

Wear a mask made with copper and silver: Copper and silver act as antibacterial and antiviral agents, which protect your skin from gunk and funk and all that junk. As an added bonus, the silver will also protect you from werewolves. Hey, 2020 isn’t over with; who knows what the hell’s in store.

Wash your mask daily: If you’re using a reusable mask, make sure you wash it daily. Of course, this is a pain, so – instead – buy a handful of reusable masks and wash them whenever you run low. That works for socks, underwear, and Tupperware lids.

Take it easy on your skincare routine: It might sound counterintuitive to suggest easing up on scrubbing and washing but overdoing the exfoliating strips your skin of its protective elements. Opt for a gentle routine and not one that involves an electric sander.

Moisturize with hyaluronic acid: This is another thing that sounds counterintuitive, as moisture is one of the elements that causes pimples in the first place. But if you over dry your skin, you’ll compromise its barrier, leaving it less resistant to acne. You’ll make wrinkles more prominent too.

Take your mask off when you can: While wearing your mask out in public is necessary, you can certainly take it off when you’re at home, alone in your car, or out in the middle of nowhere by yourself. Pull it all the way off when you can – that way, you’re not leaving any portion of your skin unnecessarily covered.  

Use toothpaste as a last resort: Okay, I write this hoping that my dermatologist doesn’t ever read it as I know all the experts suggest never using toothpaste to treat pimples. But I do have to say that it’s always worked for me. And, not to brag, but my chin has never had a cavity, either.

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