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Maskne: What is the condition and how can you get rid of it?

Coronavirus has cancelled travel, socialising as we knew it and left many of us embarrassingly bribing family for toilet paper, and now it is rudely taking over our faces.

Welcome ‘maskne’.

First there was the dreaded ‘iso skin’ which saw an increase in dark circles under the eyes, acne and dry or flaky skin due to increased stress and anxiety — great.

Now enters acne mechanica, or ‘maskne’, which is an acne that emerges due to an increase in pressure, friction, rubbing, squeezing or stretching on the skin.

For men and women in Australia, particularly for frontline workers or people living in Melbourne where face masks will soon be mandatory, the acne comes from the sweat, natural skin oils and bacteria that are trapped under the mask.

With mask wearing being the new normal for Australians, the condition won’t be stopping anytime soon, but here are some ways to prevent more pimples popping up under your mask.

Choose the right mask

A softer mask made out of cotton, silk or satin will be less abrasive and cause less irritation than a paper one. If it is a reusable mask, ensure you’re washing it regularly, and if you can afford to, invest in a few masks.

Cleanse your face regularly

Wash your face twice a day with a mild cleanser that won’t irritate the skin. Brands like La Roche Posay or Cetaphil are affordable options that can be purchased from Priceline or some pharmacies. Or if your acne is quite severe you can use a cleanser with a salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, however it may be worth chatting with your GP about other treatments if the acne persists.

Skip make-up

The friction of a mask can clog your pores and slowly break down your skin barrier, so to give it a fighting chance leave any heavy foundations or concealers in the bathroom cabinet. If you need to wear a foundation, go for a non-comedogenic product as they’re less likely to sit in your pores and cause blockages. You can find them in store at Mecca or even Woolies and Coles from brands such as Maybelline, Clinique, NARS and L’Oreal.

Choose the right moisturiser and serums

As masks may be destroying your skin barrier, it makes sense to build it back up. A serum or moisturiser containing Nicotinamide will be your best friend, as this hero ingredient minimises redness and blotchiness, regulars oil, treats acne and restores your skin barrier. Similar to foundation, also choose a non-comedogenic moisturiser and go for a lightweight and oi-free SPF.

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