9 BEST STRATEGIES FOR ALLEVIATING MASK-NE
ok so now that the opinionated fashion show is over (mask-ne post #2), here’s the practical lifestyle stuff you’re dying to know!
1. WEAR THEM AS LITTLE POSSIBLE. meaning, WEAR THEM WHEN YOU NEED TO DUH BUT
if you are privileged to be able to, stay home or inside a space where you can safely be mask-less to avoid friction from the mask AND constant sweatiness onto your skin. the main goal here is to avoid friction, pressure, and constant sweatyness.
this makes me think of the many but one client in particular, RK, who had stubborn and inflamed pimples right where her eyeglasses sat on her cheeks and nose. having her switch to contacts (or another frame that didn’t sit directly on her zits) until those pimples healed did the trick, and allowed those stubborn zits to heal. once her skin was clear, she was able to wear those glasses again, with no problems.
however, not ever wearing masks is unrealistic for most, so as soon as you get home, or into your car with no one with you (or members of your household/pod), remove your mask and let your skin breathe (which you’re probably doing already anyway).
but you will have to wear them at some point, so if you can..
2. OPT FOR CUP SHAPED MASKS.
choose masks that don’t collapse onto your lips. those flat rectangle ones with folds are super easy to make and find, but i found fabric constantly sat on my lips, getting soggy and wet from the humidity generated i talked and breathed, making things a sweaty mess – even more so if the fabric is thick, has multiple, unbreathable layers or you’re in a hot and/or humid climate.
my favorite ones are pictured above: cone-shaped k-95’s, and the gata mask.
3. WIPE YOUR SWEATY SELF DOWN.
if you’re sweating under that mask, wipe the sweat off your face with a clean cloth from time to time. i keep a small clean hand towel in my bag just for this purpose. look for really thin, absorbent and quick-drying ones, so you can easily have one with you on the go.
and if you don’t already have them, give these washable makeup removing sponges i love a try. just make sure to give them a good wash before using, and instead of throwing them in the dryer after laundering, hang to dry to keep them soft.
4. ROTATE YOUR MASKS
because you technically should be using them once and then washing (if reuseable) or tossing them anyway (i do reuse my disposable ones a few times before tossing though 😬😬😬). main point: if you have different styles of masks, try wearing a different kind each day.
because different masks will lay on your skin in slightly different places in slightly different ways, alternating the different mask shapes allow your skin a little break from the physical pressure of wearing them, on the same exact place, day in and out.
5. ACNE-SAFE LAUNDRY DETERGENT AND NO SOFTENER!
if you are using fabric masks and the towel trick as suggested above, make sure you are washing these things with acne-safe stuff. here’s the big blog post about why this is a thing, and brands/types that look acne-safe to use.
6. DO YOUR BEST TO KEEP SYSTEMIC INFLAMMATION DOWN.
i have a client with really REALLY sensitive skin, who’s a nurse and breaks out every time she has to wear a mask to work at the hospital (we troubleshot this long before covid). things that helped her skin the best, which helped her skin break out the least include:
– taking anti-inflammatory supplements (like zyflamend, optizinc or nordic naturals omega-3 supplements) before and after her shifts
– avoiding inflammatory foods by eating low-glycemic (especially coffee, because this inflames you AND boosts your cortisol levels, a type of hormone, which for the acne-prone, usually shows up as breakouts around the mouth; the same goes for soy).
– a regular schedule of enough quality sleep
– consistent stress management (whatever this means to you, as long as they’re constant + healthy ways, ok?!)
– and of course, icing your face!
a.k.a. all the same things we’ve been telling you to clear your skin!!
7. USE PRODUCTS THAT ARE BOTH ACNE SAFE + ACNE FIGHTING.
i’ve been wearing masks all this time, walking around in hot and sweaty ass japan and have had zero breakouts. then, i got a facial at a spa that used cloggy products (i knew this going in but i needed to explore japanese technique while i had access in a safe environment) and lo and behold, the next morning i got a pimple right where the mask sits on my nose.
SO: acne-safe and active acne clearing products to prevent future and treat existing acne. usually this will mean a chemical exfoliant of some kind (like one of our mandelic toners or one of our glycolic or salicylic serums), but for some, benzoyl peroxide in addition to an exfoliant might be necessary too.
*bonus tip: remember to keep your lip stuff and toothpaste acne-safe too. this stuff spreads all over the lower half of your face and can break you out, even if you’re not making out with anyone. just saying.
*super bonus tip: thanks to sS’er MLW: when she’s not too lazy, she’ll apply a layer of the youngblood mineral makeup primer (or tizo spf; they’re both silicone-based + acne-safe so should work) before putting a mask on, as a barrier between her skin and the mask. we also suspected that it wasn’t just the friction of the hospital masks that were causing problems for her, but that there might have been some kind of chemical or substance sprayed onto them, leaving a residue on her skin. they smelled “medical-y,” if you know what we mean.
8. YOU CAN TRY GETTING TREATMENTS
obviously, only if you’re able to do so safely, HOWEVER because you’ll still likely need to keep wearing masks, the acne will come back. remember, all of these tips are ideas to manage the mask-ne, not control or completely get rid of them (close to impossible for acne-prone skin until your pores have outgrown their acne phase).
9. IT IS WHAT IT IS.
the truth of it is, perfection is just unattainable. sorry. more importantly, it’s way better to get zits than to spread or get covid. both suck of course, but if you had to choose, i hope you agree that zits are the better choice. you can use all the greatest products and get all the extractions but the reality is, if you have to keep wearing masks (as you should), you’re likely gonna keep breaking out.
so, making peace with the fact that you are keeping your community safe AND feeling empowered because you know exactly why you’re breaking out (remember when it was all a mystery before you starting working with us? you also now know what needs to happen for it to clear up) i think is the best and most realistic bet. you know, changing the things you can change and accepting the things you can’t. 😉
BONUS PLUS OF WEARING MASKS
because you don’t really have to wear lipstick or makeup, you’re giving your skin a chance to rest from makeup, and saving money by not using up your stash.
PLUS, as an enthusiastically loyal, look-on-the-bright-side sS’er KS mentioned, wearing a mask is a form of physical block from the sun, which can help to slow down aging and wrinkling of the skin!
hope these tips make sense, help you out, give you some new things to try and more positive perspective. it’s a lot of info (as how i usually do). let me know what you think, if you have more ideas or different experiences than what i shared here. i want to know, and others may be able to benefit too.
thanks for reading and peace!