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Maskne – where do we go from here?


With masks set to be a part of our daily routine for many months to come, we decided to speak to pro’s Emma Kamara Sesay and Ashley Wady and find out more about what it is, and how to treat it. Read on to find out why a maskne consultation might be the latest addition to your service menu.


What is maskne?

Maskne has gone from being an unknown condition amongst the masses, to something that garners daily Instagram posts as people around the world are expressing their concerns. It’s become a condition that is adding to the stress of anyone who usually suffers with acne, but is also making itself known as a new issue for those with usually ‘clear’ skin.


Aesthetician Emma Kamara-Sesay says: “Maskne was once used to describe acne mechanica (friction-related acne) but it’s actually an umbrella term that includes a myriad of skin conditions, such as acne, rosacea, contact dermatitis, perioral dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis, that have developed or are exacerbated as a result of prolonged mask use.”


How can we recognise maskne?

Skin expert Ashley Wady explains that maskne can be easily recognised: “as it usually appears as a cluster of tiny whiteheads that pop up after you wear any type of mask; a little different to the hormonal types of acne which look more like small pimples that come to a head, or cysts.


“Maskne is different to regular acne as it is a direct result of physical disruption to the lower part of the facial skin. Breathing, sweating, and talking with a face mask on can make skin become raw and inflamed, ultimately causing pores to become clogged with bacteria.

Airflow is limited from entering and exiting which in turn means the skin we usually shed on a daily basis has nowhere to go.”


How to treat Maskne

I ask the experts how they would treat clients who have existing skin conditions, who are now having to deal with maskne too.


For Emma it’s about a gentle approach:

“It’s imperative that the skin is treated with extra care before and after wearing a mask and this can be done by looking for products that contain ingredients that are anti-inflammatory (for reducing inflammation and redness), such as Arnica and Colloidal Oatmeal and soothing, to quell irritation, sensitivity, heat, swelling and pain, i.e. Chamomile, Aloe Vera, Cucumber extract, etc.”


We absolutely love Kaeso Aloe Vera & Cotton Hydrating Cleanser followed by Kaeso White Nettle & Chamomile Calming Mask for their soothing and anti inflammatory ingredients.


Emma goes on to say it’s also key to have hydration as a main focus, especially when considering the moisture that is lost while wearing a mask. Be sure to recommend products that contain Glycerin, Sodium PCA, Sodium Lactate, Hyaluronic Acid and Urea and also consider products that offer barrier support and contain Niacinamide, Ceramides, Squalene or fatty acids.


Our favourite pick for an added moisture boost is this Beauty Balm from Monuskin. With Vitamin E, Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid and Sodium Hyaluronate this powerful balm transforms skin from dry and broken out to clear, hydrated and glowing. Simply pat on top of your moisturiser before a day of mask wearing to give your skin a perfect level of protection.


Ashley recommends that clients continue with their existing skincare but should also consider introducing three key products; a face wash with Salicylic Acid, a product containing Hyaluronic Acid and a mineral formula SPF. Here’s why: “Clients should focus on keeping skin clean and keeping oil production under control with a facewash containing Salicylic Acid. This will eliminate impurities and excess sebum from the skin as well as refresh and soothe it.”

This face wash from Monuskin contains salicylic acid and zesty lime, lemon, grapefruit and basil essential oils to refine the complexion whilst reviving tired skin for an instantly more radiant appearance.


“They should also keep skin hydrated with a high percentage of Hyaluronic Acid to normalise the skin that’s struggling with mask-induced acne. The optimal skin hydration helps to heal and soothe inflammation and is suitable for every skin type, colour and concern –  including acne prone and sensitive skin. Dry areas will be intensively moisturised while sebum gland hyperactivity in the mask area will be reduced,” says Ashley.


Skin Republic’s Green Tea Hydrogel Sheet Face Mask is the perfect helping hand for skin that still needs an extra bit of love. With Green tea and Chamomile to sooth, hyaluronic acid to hydrate and niacinamide to smooth and protect skin.

Finally, clients should switch to using a mineral SPF as it provides a physical barrier on the skin. We recommend Monuskin Hydrating Moisturiser SPF 15.


Maskne Do's and don'ts

Ashley says that clients should be advised to keep the skin clean, cleansing twice a day and Emma agrees, saying that plain, gentle cleansers are the best option.


They also agree that wearing heavy makeup should be avoided. Says Ashley:

“Wearing a face mask with a heavy foundation underneath will make matters worse. The added heat, moisture and friction from masks will drive makeup deeper into the skin, which can lead to bacteria build-ups and breakouts. Advise clients to go for a tinted SPF if they really can’t bear to go without.”


Emma says that daily sun protection is a must and that exfoliation should be done no more than three times per week. Finally, she also advises that masks should not be re-used:


“Cloth masks must be washed daily and if that’s not possible then advise your clients to go for disposable masks. Another no-no is wearing a mask while it’s wet. This will render the mask ineffective and can also boost the growth of harmful microbes on the skin.”


Maskne is still a relatively new phenomenon, and every day we are learning more and more about it. If you’re looking for ways to improve your client consultations and communication in general, check out this blog on The Keys to Communicating.