The pandemic brought many unwelcome things into our lives and one that we really wish didn't exist is maskne, which Dr Sophie Shotter of the Illuminate Skincare Clinic in Kent describes as: "Breakouts caused by wearing a face mask. There are different causes; spots along the line where the mask is sitting are called acne mechanical and are caused by the friction of the mask.
"Spots underneath the mask are caused by the bacteria in our warm moist breath being trapped against the skin. If we continue to wear makeup or rich skincare products that block our pores we create a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, so the area around the mask gets spots when you might not normally get them there."
Dr Sophie has four tips for dealing with maskne, and we're all ears.
Tip 1: Clinisept Plus
Clinisept Plus , £15.49, is what Dr Sophie uses to clean people's skin before she performs aesthetic procedures. It's a gentle, non-drying alcohol-free skin disinfectant that kills over 99.99 per cent of bacteria, viruses, fungi and spores. Not only does it kill Covid but also any bacteria. Sophie spritzes her face to decrease the bacterial load on her skin and sometimes uses it as a toner in her skincare regime to rebalance her microbiome.
Tip 2: Exfoliate with AHA and BHA skincare
Using products containing AHA or BHAs in, (glycolic, salicylic or lactic acid) help your skin to exfoliate properly. Even though the spots may be being caused by the mask, it's still the same process underneath; the folicles are blocked with excess skin cells and product and behind that blockage is the breeding ground for bugs. Salicylic acid is particularly good because it cuts through bacteria in the pores. We know Sophie is a fan of The Inkey List's Salicylic Acid Cleaner , £9.99, and Neostrata's Foaming Glycolic Wash , £22.99.
Tip 3: Use the right foundation
Many foundations block the pores, especially longwear ones. Oxygenetix is one Sophie recommends. The Oxygenating Breathable Foundation , £45 is formulated for acne-prone skin and lets the skin breathe. It's the only foundations Sophie puts on patient's skin after a cosmetic procedure.
Tip 4: Wash your mask regularly
Reusable masks should be washed regularly and kept in a clear plastic bag. Putting a dirt mask on will only make the problem worse.