How to wear a face mask without getting acne

Have you ever had a teen refuse to go to school because of a large pimple on her chin? I have experienced that very scene more than once.

Acne is a HUGE issue for most teens. In my house, we have tried all kinds of lotions, potions and gadgets to make teen acne go away. As if oil and hormones aren’t enough, here comes another thing to aggravate our teens’ skin — face masks.

Schools that have gone back to in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic require students to wear face masks — often for the entire day.

What we are seeing is a bad combination: Acne generally is caused by excessive oil production, plugging of the hair follicles, inflammation, and bacteria. Face masks create the perfect warm and humid environment for bacteria to thrive, which in turn can lead to breakouts. Friction from fabric can also irritate the skin, causing inflammation and clogged pores.

With that in mind, we turned to the experts to for what to do help fight unwanted “maskne.”

  • Keep masks clean. Dirt and bacteria can build up on the fabric. Wash masks after every use, especially your teen wears them while exercising or playing a sport.  
  • Be selective with materials

Face masks made from 100% cotton are the best choice for both skin and earth. Cotton is the most breathable, least irritating to the skin, and creates an effective barrier against the virus.

Natural fibers are gentler on the skin compared to synthetic fibers. Additionally, using reusable masks like cotton ones, instead of the disposable ones, is the more eco-friendly choice, since reusing a mask will help to limit unnecessary waste.

There are even cotton masks that are made from recycled materials, including “deadstock” fabric, which is scrap fabric leftover from clothing production. If you buy a mask online, check the description of the material on the website to help make the best choice.  

  • Rethink the daily skincare routine

Although dermatologists recommend that mask-wearers use as few products as possible in their daily skincare routine, making sure your teen’s skin is consistently clean and hydrated will help them avoid “maskne.”

I can tell you first hand that some teens (especially boys) do not wash their face regularly, and if they do, they don’t use a cleanser.

One product that teens like is recurrent’s face wash powder, which has only six ingredients and effectively cleanses the skin, eliminates bacteria, and actually prevents acne. A key ingredient in the face wash recurrent face wash is refined shea butter, which acts as a moisturizer. 

You might not think teens should moisturize but dermatologists say lotion will not only hydrate their skin, it also will create a barrier between their faces and their masks.

Since masks are essential during the pandemic, we need to do whatever we can to help our teens overcome concerns about wearing them by helping them avoid maskne as much as possible.

*This post is sponsored by recurrent which sells safe, effective, eco-conscious skin, hair and hygiene products made specifically for young adults. recurrent was founded by Tamar Rosenthal, former DappleBaby co-founder, and Nava Unterman Ulmer, former college professor) Visit or @thisisrecurrent on Instagram. 

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