Makeup Under Your Mask? Dermatologists Weigh in on How to Prevent Maskne Before it Starts

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Makeup Under Your Mask? Dermatologists Weigh in on How to Prevent Maskne Before it Starts featured image
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Although we’ve seen a major uptick in acne since skin-irritating masks have become a daily staple for our safety, we shouldn’t have to ditch our makeup in fear of breaking out even worse. Here, two top doctors explain how we can wear makeup under our masks without exacerbating our maskne and why some makeup might cause us to break out in the first place. 

What is maskne?
“The outermost layer of the skin, also known as the skin barrier, shields you from environmental factors while keeping hydration locked in,” says Saddle Brook, NJ dermatologist Fredric Haberman, MD. “When our barrier becomes damaged from the rubbing from our masks, the skin starts to show signs of irritation like redness and acne, otherwise known as maskne.”

While it’s often hard to tell if the pimples on your face are being caused by your mask versus other factors, Dr. Haberman has a few telltale signs that your acne is indeed from the rubbing of your mask. “Maskne looks like tiny little whiteheads,” he explains. “Also, when pimples start to show up right after wearing a mask, that should be a telltale sign that you are experiencing maskne versus regular acne.”

Dr. Haberman also explains that maskne can get even worse if you wear makeup under your mask, but he and San Antonio, TX dermatologist Vivian Bucay, MD offer the preventative measures we need to know before things start to go south.

How does makeup make maskne worse?
According to Dr. Bucay, preventing makeup-induced maskne is all about wearing the right makeup. “If your makeup is lightweight and labeled as non comedogenic (aka specially formulated so as not to cause clogged pores), the makeup shouldn’t cause additional acne breakouts. However, if the makeup contains talc, it may block the pores and trigger even more acne breakouts,” she says.

Dr. Haberman would have to agree, adding that “the majority of makeup on the market will aggravate acne, clog the pores and therefore make maskne worse since it’s formulated with harsh ingredients.”

How can you prevent makeup-induced maskne?
When it comes to prevention and reduction, Drs. Bucay and Haberman have a few tips and tricks for how to wear makeup without the extra breakouts. First on the list: wearing a cloth mask. “Oftentimes, people wear the same paper mask over and over again which is often what causes more acne. I recommend a cloth mask because you can wash them with a safe detergent,” says Dr. Haberman.

Secondly, the doctors recommend avoiding a retinol to prevent maskne because “it’s just going to irritate it.” According to Dr. Bucay, harsh ingredients like retinoids or benzoyl peroxide make the skin more prone to inflammatory acne breakouts that are more difficult to treat. Instead, Dr. Haberman recommends a gentle product, like a moisturizer, to prevent maskne. “Wearing a moisturizer under your makeup is going to decrease rubbing and therefore maskne. I recommend a cream that has squalane, ceramides or jojoba in it for optimal results.”

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