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How "Mask Acne" Develops And What You Can Do To Treat It

September 24, 2020

Masks are a critical part of slowing the spread of coronavirus. But you may have found out that there is an unexpected side effect: “mask acne.”

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the U.S. Although acne isn’t a life-threatening condition, it can be painful, particularly when it’s severe. It can also cause emotional distress.

So, let’s look at what causes acne, why your face mask may be the culprit and find out why the best way to alleviate mask acne might be with a face mask.

How Does Acne Develop?

There are many things that cause acne including genetics and your diet, but for the purposes of this blog, we are going to stick to the environmental factors that can bring acne on. They include: 

  • High humidity causing swelling of the skin.
  • Cosmetics especially certain moisturizers, foundation and pomades. Watch out for products that contain lanolin, petrolatum, vegetable oils, butyl stearate, lauryl alcohol, and oleic acid.
  • Pressure from headbands and chin straps (eg "fiddler's neck", a condition seen in violin or viola players, where continual pressure from the violin against the neck causes skin irritation)

All three of these factors are tied to wearing a mask. The pressure from the mask, combined with makeup or cleaning products you’re using, and the humidity you’re creating under your mask make it a breeding ground for acne. 

How To Alleviate Mask Acne

It starts by cleaning and moisturizing your face daily. The American Academy of Dermatology Association even provides a step-by-step guide

You can also skip the makeup when wearing a mask. Beneath a mask, makeup is more likely to clog your pores and lead to breakouts. If makeup is necessary, use only products labeled “non-comedogenic” or “oil-free.”

And use certain skincare products less often. These include:

  • Leave-on salicylic acid
  • Retinoid you apply to your face
  • Aftershave

All of these products can irritate your skin underneath your mask. 

Try a Face Mask For “Mask Acne”

Healthline.com has a list of five masks you can make from natural ingredients. Remember, before you apply your mask, make sure your skin is clean and your pores are primed. Now, on to the masks:

1. Mix together 1/2 teaspoon turmeric + 1 tablespoon honey

Powder or plant, turmeric can be turned into a paste for topical application. You can also mix it with honey. Honey is an antioxidant-rich product that’s also naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial. It may help soothe inflamed skin and prevent future breakouts.

Leave your mask on for 10–15 minutes.

2. Mix 1 to 2 drops of tea tree oil into your clay mask

Healthline’s researcher says “Tea tree oil is a tried and true antibacterial and anti-inflammatory,” But be careful. While research shows tea tree oil can be effective as an acne fighter, it can irritate the skin in high doses. 

And keep this in mind: studies documenting the effectiveness of tea tree oil are mostly long-term. It will take consistent use to see results. 

Dilute 1 to 2 drops with honey or in your calcium bentonite clay mask. It will create a barrier between your skin and possible irritants. Leave on for 10–15 minutes, but no more than 30.

You can also mix a few drops of tea tree oil with 12 drops of carrier oil. Avoid your eyes while you massage it into your skin like moisturizer. Leave on for 5 to 8 minutes and use a warm towel to wipe it off.

3. Witch hazel in rose water and your clay mask

Witch hazel is a botanical extract that’s often used as an astringent, which means it may help you to remove excess oil from your skin. 

It’s also naturally antibacterial, and its anti-inflammatory properties make it a good option to try.

Try mixing a few drops of witch hazel with rose or white tea water. Use that water to hydrate your bentonite clay mask. 

Leave it on for 10–15 minutes, but no more than 30.

4. Blend aloe vera and turmeric or green tea

Aloe may be able to help, especially if you have oily skin. Mix it with powdered turmeric or green tea, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Wear this mask for 15–20 minutes.

5. Oatmeal mask

Oatmeal is not just for breakfast anymore. That’s because oats contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  

To make a mask, boil oats with water and allow the mixture to cool completely before applying to your skin. You can also add a few drops of tea tree oil or turmeric for potentially better results.

Leave your oatmeal mask on for 20–30 minutes.

Another Thing To Try

As we mentioned before, your diet can help in the fight against acne. Some skin-friendly food choices include:

  • Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots, apricots, and sweet potatoes.
  • Spinach and other dark green and leafy vegetables
  • Tomatoes

If you’d like to find out more about eating healthier on a busy schedule, download our guide: “How To Eat Healthy On a Busy Schedule.” You’ll learn some simple steps you can take to eat better at home and on the go. 

healthy meals