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The dirty secret hiding underneath your mask: 4 cures for MASKNE

Others might not see it but it's there, hiding underneath your mask. It's summer 2020's dirty secret: MASKNE is the new ACNE. It's real, it's gross, it's the icing on the dumpster-flavored cake of 2020.

One of my gorgeous brides who works in healthcare and has to wear her mask all day was lamenting her pre-wedding maskne breakout, and she inspired this post (hi Chelsea!). While her maskne was extremely minor, I've started to see more and more of it on other clients and it varies in severity. Whether you have to wear your mask all day or only when you leave the house, chances are good that at some point your mask has triggered a breakout. With makeup, sunscreen and trapped moisture all mingling together underneath your mask, conditions are just right for skin eruptions.

The good news is that there are a few simple things you can do to keep that icky maskne at bay.

1. Exfoliate

Trapped moisture + makeup + dead skin cells can create a delectable stew for bacteria to thrive in and become trapped in your pores. Regular exfoliation is an important part of your skin ritual.

If your breakouts are mild, try a mild physical exfoliator like the Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant by Eminence (available at Subi Salon in Hood River or online).

The organic formula contains rice powder, which gently polishes the surface of your skin. Lactic and Salicylic acids help remove impurities and brighten skin's appearance. For best results, start slowly and exfoliate in the evening 2x/week. Gradually increase frequency as your skin becomes accustomed.

For heavier duty blemishes, call in the reinforcements in the form of chemical exfoliant glycolic acid. If you're new to acids, try the Glycolic Lotion Skin Peel 5% by Epicuren Discovery (available at Satori in The Dalles).

As with the Dermafolian, start slowly (and at night) and use just once per week. It may sting a little bit (acid does that!) but it shouldn't be unbearable. If it is, then you may have a sensitivity and you should stop using and rinse off at once. You can work up to 3x/week and back off if your skin starts to feel overly sensitive or things get worse.

2. Mask (the Other Kind)

Treat yourself to a weekly facial mask. The mask to end all masks (and the one I use most ritualistically) is Just Add Sugar Cacao Herbal Infusion Masque by Jenette All Natural Skin Care.

Y'all know I love a multi-tasker - this mask double as a gentle physical exfoliator by (you guessed it...) just adding a bit of sugar. Magic! When used as a mask, the cold-pressed aloe vera gel helps to soothe and heal active breakouts, while the proprietary blend of Chinese and Korean herbs detoxify and rejuvenate. It can draw impurities out from the deep layers of the skin, so after you mask you will want to soothe your skin with a gentle antibacterial formula. I use Jenette's Be Clean Elixir after masking.

3. Swap out Sugar and Dairy

While stress (wait - what stress, is something going on?) can often make us feel like reaching for the sweets and the cheese (oh, the cheese!), holistic estheticians have known for a long time that these are common acne triggers. And after decades of denying a link between diet and acne, science is finally catching up. If times feel too tough to give up your favorite comfort foods, opt for whole-food or plant-based options.

When you need a sweet treat, head for Farm Stand in the Gorge and pick up a Honey Mamas bar. So good you'll want to try every flavor.

As for dairy, choose the rBGH or rBST hormone-free kind if you can find it. When I was vegetarian and still ate cheese, I found that this one little tweak helped my hormonal acne considerably. Still, it didn't go away entirely until I made the switch to a 100% plant-based diet.

When I was flirting with the idea of making the leap to a vegan diet I didn't think I could give up cheese altogether. But then I began experimenting with the (now numerous) vegan options out there. Now I splurge on artisan cheeses by SriMu. Spendy but absolutely worth it, I can still enjoy blue and brie in nut-based form.

4. Air it Out

This may be easier said than done right now, especially if you live in a highly populous area or you work in healthcare or another profession that requires you to wear a mask all day. But your skin will thank you for giving it a mask break when you can by exposing it to fresh air and sunlight. Go outside, take a walk, sit in your yard or porch or balcony and soak in life-giving sunshine so that your skin and the sun can create the vitamin D your body and your immune system need. If you're going to be outside longer than 15 minutes or during the peak sun hours of 10 AM - 3 PM then please please wear sunscreen.

Want more personalized skin care and makeup advice? Stay in touch!

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