Tuesday, 23 February 2021 11:31

Making Maskne Work for Clients: Mask Ingredients, Treatments, & Homecare

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2020 was the year that sprung new challenges in many different aspects of most individuals lives.Living through extraordinary and uncertain times, adaptations had to be made in order to function amongst society.One of those adaptations was the inclusion of masks, covering both the mouth and nose on the face while in public places.


Wearing a mask on the face to cover the mouth and nose is quite impossible without involving the cheeks, chin, and ears.The broadened scope of facial coverage brings about more surface area on the skin being less exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun but more exposed to skin disruption and imbalance, thereby creating a new form of skin condition – mask acne, which has been dubbedmaskne.

Just like a blister forms on the foot from a newly worn shoe being broken in, masks have bred a unique development of bumps within the skin where the two touch.The continued friction from the masks with the skin causes irritation.This irritation transitions to small, almost milia-looking or open comedone-looking bumps on the surface of the skin.Now, combine the friction of the mask against the skin with stagnant air capturing recycled breath in the mask, and maskne is born.


Maskne can be treated by professionals the same way as acne because they share similar skincare conditions that result in inflammation of the skin caused by a disruption to the skin’s homeostasis.

However, acne does involve more internal elements that create it, such as genetics, the amount of natural sebum being produced by the body, elimination of toxins from the body, the triggering of different hormones, consumption of inflammatory-producing foods, and stress.Maskne differs because it is an external, mechanical ailment on the skin that creates friction and harbors bacteria. 

While performing an intake with the client, whether written or verbal, it is important to visually intake where the acne is present.An accurate skin analysis will better assist the professional in determining how they can treat their client’s skin in the best way possible. Knowing the difference between maskne and acne on the client’s skin tailors a variation of treatment solely for them.

Emily Takis, a licensed aesthetician that focuses on supportive skincare based on the Functional Medicine Model, discusses how “the skin, like the gut, has its own microbiome.The microbiome is to the skin what the ozone is to the earth.It protects from harmful bacteria.”

Maskne disrupts the function of the skin’s microbiome.The bad bacteria anchored in the mask infiltrates the good bacteria, overriding the inhabited microorganisms designed to assist in protecting the skin.This invasion of bad bacteria from the mask creates disharmony on the skin,thus causing the skin to react like a pubescent teenager.Regardless of age, race, or sex, maskne targets anyone wearing a mask.


The most important part of preventing maskne is the regular sanitation of masks.A clean mask will aid in clean skin.There are many fashionable masks available for purchase.They have become an accessory to an outfit like a “jacket for the face,” but that does not mean they are the best for skin.

The best mask to wear is debatable.Disposable masks are great because they are thrown away after usewhich creates the least amount of bacteria build-up formed within the mask.The downside of wearing disposable masks is the material.The paper that is used to make them creates more irritation.Also, some people wear disposable masks without disposing of them after each use, which defeats the purpose

Satin masks will create less irritation and friction on the skin because of their softwoven material.They soak-up excess moisture residing on the skin, which in turn may aid in a lower production of sebum.The downside to wearing a satin mask is the entrapment of heat.They are not as breathable on the skin as disposable or cloth masks.

Cloth masks are more comfortable on the skin and if made with cotton, are fairly breathable for the skin.They harbor the most bacteria within them, thus creating a sanctuary of bad bacteria.To overuse a cloth mask, especially in some places where masks are required while actively exercising, is like wearing the same pair of underwear repeatedly.No matter what skincare regimen that is religiously practiced every day, there is no instant antidote for placing a re-used, cloth mask on the skin.

Silk masks are recommended becausetheypromote clean and hydrated skin.Silk assists in preventing moisture loss within the skin, which helps those suffering from dry skin.It is also antimicrobial and aids in keeping the skin clear and free of irritation.Since silk is naturally made from silkworms, the organic quality supplements the skin’s carbon makeup.Silk would be the best choice of mask for the skin but if not sanitized properly, could impose a maskne flare-up.

To prevent maskne, encourage clients to form habits of mask cleanliness.Disposable masks should be thrown out after use.Satin, cloth, and silk masks should be cleaned on a regular, daily basis.Create a space where masks are treated with care by storing them in a clean environment when not in use.Be mindful of how the masks are placed after wearing them – keeping them open and allowing them to breathe instead of folding them in half.Sanitation can even be taken a step further with sterilization.A portable ultraviolet radiation sterilizer can reduce the spread of germs and bacteria.


The treatment of maskne will closely mimic the treatment of acne.Non-aggressor techniques should be applied, such asminimal to no massage stimulation, minimal to no steam utilization, acute extraction, and no mechanical exfoliants in the areas of active acne and skin irritation.In some cases of maskne, the skin mimics a rosacea-like appearance, forming clusters of irritated, inflamed skin around the mouth and chin and should be treated like rosacea-based skin conditions.

Four easy ways to treat maskne, include avoiding makeup use when wearing masks, applying a moisturizer before masking up, washing the face directly after removing the mask, and applyingacne medication.

Makeup that rests on the skin where the mask touches not only transfers onto the mask but also acts as a layer of occlusion to the skin, thus making it less breathable.Adding a mask on top of skin that has a painted palette of cosmetics invites the confinement of bad bacteria, which can cause maskne.

common mistake when maskne appears is using products that dry out the skin and then foregoing moisturizing products.When the lipid barrier on the skin is disrupted by the stripping of the skin’s natural oils, skin naturally activates the production of more oil, which causes acne.By applying moisturizer on the skin before masking, it will cater to the lipid barrier’s need to not produce more oil which then will control acne.Also, the moisturizer will work as a film on the skin to decrease irritation due to the friction of the mask.

Since masks tend to harbor bacteria, washing the face directly after removing it promotes the freeing of any lingering bacteria that could cause maskne.This also rids the skin from excessive debris in the pores from the material of the mask.

Medical-grade, topical ointments or gels assist in treating maskne that over-the-counter products cannot.Applying topical medication locally on the areas where the maskne is present fine-tunes the treatment by externally spot-treating it directly.Oral medications that can only be prescribed by a doctor, like the topical medications, help to treat maskne from an internal approach and work synergistically with the topical medications.Ingredients like salicylic acid, clindamycin, and retinoids are top-tier options for treating maskne.


Take off the face mask to treat with another kind of mask.Pre-packaged facial masks and masks that are applied directly onto the skin by a fan brush are excellent ways to treat maskne. These masks are ingredient-rich, promoting positive cellular activity.

Use ingredients that keepthe microbiome on the skinintact, like blue-greenalgae, organic plantain, pure raw organic neem oil, bentonite clay, Gotu Kola, blue-violetbasil, organic jojoba oil, and organic sesame oil.Natural ingredients like these are the key to fostering resilient skin and remind skin how to function properly, thereby re-establishing normalcy.

Pre-packaged masks are great for treating maskne because most of them are submerged in a serum along with the mask.The serum from within the pre-packaged masks are full of beneficial ingredients, usually consisting of hyaluronic acids, peptides, and essential oils.The essential oils serve the skin with their unique attributes, as well as aromatically for the olfactory system.

Some essential oils that are found within pre-packaged masks arerose, neroli, lavender, cedarwoodand teatree essential oils.Rose essential oil is calming and soothing to the skin.It is an anti-inflammatory and helps minimize the appearance of red, irritated skin.Neroli essential oil is derived from bitter orange trees and is a rich antioxidant for the skin full of vitamin C.It is antimicrobial and antifungal, which reduces acne breakouts and skin irritation.Lavender essential oil promotes wound healing, which aids in the repairing of extreme flare-ups.It is alsoantiaging because it boosts the synthesis of collagen. Cedarwood essential oil is antibacterial, antiseptic, antifungal, antimicrobial, as well as and anti-inflammatory.It helps treat acne and soothes the skin.Teatree essential oil is antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory.It has received esteem acknowledgment for treating acne.

These pre-packaged masks work as a perfect duo.First, the serum, blended as a cocktail of essential oils and other beneficial ingredients, is the prelude for the pre-cut mask to perform.This pre-cut mask rests as a collagen blanket, allowing the products to penetrate into the skin.The best part about pre-packaged masks is their removal process.Unlike regular masks applied by a fan brush that are removed by a wet towel (creating more traction along the skin and possible irritation), pre-packaged masks are lifted off the skin, minimizing the possibility of additional irritation to the skin.

Masks, if stored in cool areas, also act as a soothing elementthe skin that generates a relaxing response to the body.Creating an environment that calms the skin and body through the assistance of a mask treatment constructs positive reinforcement from within and reduces stressors that cause both internal and external inflammation. 


The first step in homecare when treating maskne is to not wear a mask within the confinements of one’s home if possible.The least amount of time the mask has to be worn over the face, the less exposure to acquiring maskne.

Encourage clients to follow the guidelines by cleansing the skin after removing their mask and making sure to apply a moisturizer.These good practices for homecare help develop skincare habits that become a daily routine when a mask is worn.

Incorporating tools, such as red and blue light LED to treat inflammation promote healing and fight against bacteria and are safe ways to assist in treating maskne.The LED lights do not agitate the skin like some mechanical skincare tools.

Clients need to stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, and eat a healthy diet.Drinking lots of water allows the skin to stay hydrated and keeps the cells functioning properly.When asleep, the body repairs.Getting plenty of rest will aid in the reduction of stress, which encourages the mind and body to relax.Choosing to eat healthy foods such as fruits, greens, and proteins enrich the skin and body with antioxidants and serves as an anti-inflammatory for the skin and body.

Maskne can be treated when the right homecare is practiced and a healthy lifestyle is properly balanced within each and every day. Clients should continue to protect their skin’s health, not only through internal means but also through a proper skin care regimen.


Amra Lear 2014


Amra Lear has been licensed as a massage therapist since 1997 and a licensed aesthetician since 2005. She has worked in two luxury resort spas on the Las Vegas, Nevada Strip since 1999. Lear is a nationally-certified board therapeutic massage andbodywork continuing education provider, where she trains other professionals in various massage modalities and develops spa treatments in both massage and aesthetics.

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November 2021

Skin Care Blogs

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  • DMK Skin Revision Center
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