By: Natashka Venter, skincare expert and Head of Formulations for thebeautyworX
Masks have been essential for our physical health, but they haven’t been great for the health of our skin, which is why Maskne – or mask-related acne – has become one of the biggest, new issues in skincare.
When we breathe and talk, hot air gets trapped by our masks, creating the perfect environment for bacteria, yeast, skin mites and other flora to grow. Our skin barrier and micro flora then become unbalanced, resulting in an excessive production of sebum oil – the irritating fatty acids which cause blemishes – along with other inflammatory metabolites. The skin is also aggravated by the friction of the mask rubbing against it.
It has always been an issue for professionals who regularly have to wear masks, but since the wider population has been required to wear them, it has escalated.
But there are solutions for those continuing to wear masks and those dealing with the ongoing fall-out from them, so we can continue to keep our skin – and each other – healthy.
A key, preventative action to take is to regularly change and clean your masks at least twice a day and look for softer fabrics like cotton rather than synthetics like polyester, to reduce friction and irritation.
It’s also important to regularly wash your face with a mild wash, to remove excess sebum and prevent pores from clogging.
I have spent a long time working on this skincare issue and formulated thebeautyworX Blemish Treat Serum and Ampoule, which contain technology that helps to promote skin barrier function and balances the skin micro biota by decreasing sebum production, reducing skin irritation, promoting pore tightening and moisturisation.
The key things to look out for when you buy skincare to deal with Maskne – which I ensure are in my formulations for this – are that they are skin micro biota friendly. Our Blemish Treat, for example, contains a natural prebiotic extract derived from chicory root to help maintain the skin’s natural barrier.
The most impressive part of our skin barrier is the microbial layer. The skin microbiota is the first and outermost layer of our defence against hostile environments. All species of this microbial community keep each other in balance. When they are unbalanced from things like mask-wearing, it leads to higher sensitivity, skin disorder, barrier disruption and eventually, premature ageing.
Other things to look out for are products with a pore tightening effect. This is particularly useful for skin areas where sebum production is high – the face and scalp contain the highest concentration of sebaceous glands – causing oily skin, which may also have large, dilated pores. The benefit of our Blemish treat is that it helps to minimise the visible appearance of skin suffering from excessive sebum secretion.
Moisturising is also key. For my formulation, I used natural plant glycerides derived from Macadamia, to soothe and moisturise the skin.
I would also recommend naturally derived active ingredients that are mild and soothing to the skin – particularly the sensitive skin caused by Maskne – containing no fragrance allergens or harsh ingredients.
Active ingredient blends to look out for include the vitamins and minerals, Niacinamide, Panthenol, Biotin and Yeast Protein. This active blend helps to improve skin tone and firmness: As we age, our skin’s elasticity decreases. Cellular activity slows in the epidermal basal layer, the skin’s defense against environmental attack is then compromised, cell turnover and vitality decrease and the skin loses its firmness. The fight against loss of skin tone is preferably based on prevention, by helping the skin to defend itself against external attack.