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No Need to Live with Mascne

Dealing with nearly two years of pandemic-necessary accommodations has made an impact on our lives in many ways: working from home, curtailing social lives, restraining ourselves from international travel. But one of those mandates affects our everyday lives – wearing masks.

And it looks like the need for face coverings is going to be an ongoing thing. Even with vaccinations and social distancing, masks continue to be necessary to enter buildings, work in congregated settings, attend worship and go shopping. Skin conditions arising from mask-wearing have caused a variety of issues for some, including aggravating acne flare-ups in areas of the face covered by masks.

Often called mascne (or maskne), this condition is more prevalent in tweens, teens and young adults who already had bouts of acne breakouts, but mask-wearing aggravates it, according to Dr. Wei Jing Loo, of DermEffects. It has also been afflicting those in their 30s and early 40s, who had ‘outgrown’ it but now are experiencing mascne, in addition to adult hormonal acne.

Those who must wear a mask for eight or nine hours during the workday – which is anyone who works in the restaurant or retail sectors, those in healthcare, factory workers, and many more – are most affected by this phenomenon. Both men and women are struggling with mascne.

They are experiencing congestion of the skin, which appears as slightly raised patches on the face that seem roughened from the tiny white bumps just under the surface. This clogging of pores is what causes both pimples and blackheads.

Besides having bacteria-induced eruptions, acne also can impact mental wellness. “We see more parents bringing in teens because acne is becoming a serious issue with teens’ mental health,” says Charlene Jones, of Artistic Esthetic Spa.

Preventing and treating mascne starts with clean skin. Having several masks that can be changed out and washed regularly is the first step. Keeping the face clean with a quality gentle cleanser, followed by using a quality moisturizer (non-acnegenic and noncomedogenic) is a good second step.

For more serious mascne, Dr. Loo recommends “topical medications that contain antibiotics, Vitamin A acid (retinol) and benzo peroxide.” When these are not enough, she prescribes oral antibiotics or Accutane.

A different approach is taken at Artistic Esthetic Spa. There, hydra facials are popular with both male and female clients for deep cleaning the face. The treatment starts with the client lying on a facial bed and the specially trained esthetician uses medical-grade products to cleanse the skin. Then the HydraFacial machine’s largest wand is used to do a lymphatic cleanse by moving the fluids toward the lymph nodes to be released from the body. This feels like a vigorous face massage.


1. Wear a clean mask at all times
2. Clean face with gentle cleanser
3. Use quality moisturizer

"We see more parents bringing in teens because acne is becoming a serious issue with teens’ mental health,"


For the next step, a smaller wand is used to exfoliate the skin, removing skin cells and sending them into a clear receptacle. At the end of the facial, the client is able to see the detritus that was removed during the process.

Next, another head is attached to the smaller wand and a salicylic acid peel is used to further exfoliate the face. The suction of the wand and the softening Beta-HD serum continue to remove dead skin cells and prepare the face for the extraction wand, which is the next step.

Clients appreciate that suction cleans out the pores. Unlike usual facials, the skin isn’t manipulated to extract blackheads. No painful pinching or prodding. After covering the eyes with protective goggles, the esthetician uses either a red or blue powerful LED light on the face. The red is used for clients who have rosacea, fine lines and wrinkles.

It soothes the skin. Blue light is employed to kill acne-causing bacteria. At the end of the treatment, medicalgrade serum, moisturizer and zinc-based sunscreen are applied. It is important to protect the newly revealed skin from the sun, as it will burn more easily.

Unlike other abrasion treatments, there is no downtime. Not applying makeup until the next day is recommended and sun exposure must be avoided for 48 hours.

According to Jones, an equal number of male and female clients opt for this acne treatment.

Dr. Loo also sees an uptick in patients who have pressure and friction injuries from mask-wearing, like bruising or hyperpigmentation. She adds that the extra heat from masks can aggravate rosacea (redness and/or pustules that look like acne).

Perioral dermatitis ruptures around the nose and mouth area are on the rise. Some of her patients who are being treated for dermatitis or eczema are experiencing issues with the skin of their hands because of frequent hand washing and the use of harsh hand sanitizers. For these skin issues, Dr. Loo recommends “moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.” For more extreme cases, steroid and nonsteroid topical creams may be prescribed.

Though we long to put pandemic measures behind us, masking and hand sanitizing are here to stay, so treating resulting skin conditions effectively will continue to be important.