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Face Mask Acne

How to Cope with Stressed Skin and ‘Maskne’ (Mask-Induced Acne)

“Wearing face masks out for long hours is making me break out around my cheeks and chin. What do I do?” We hear you – ‘maskne’ and stressed skin are hot topics these days. If you are struggling with any of these skin concerns, read on.

Especially during times of stress, it can feel like skin care is the least important part of your day and an aspect you may gloss over. Other times, your skin care routine ends up being a valuable time for self-care and reflection; melting the stressors of the day away as you cleanse your face. There is no right or wrong way to think about your skin care routine at this time, and one day may not be like the next.

This month I reached out to friends in Korea and the US who work in various industries – from health care workers to “WFH” office environments – to talk about their current skin care challenges. From multi-masking and at-home facials to soothing ingredients like mugwort, below are some tips on how my friends (by skin type) have been approaching their skin care routines to cope with stressed and irritated skin. 

RELATED: At-Home Skin Care Activities and Face Mask Tips (If You Do Need to Go Outside)

Meena, Skin Type: Oily

I am paying way more attention to my skin care now! So far I haven’t noticed any “maskne,” but I have been paying extra attention to those areas covered by my face mask to prevent breakouts from any bacteria that may be lurking. I also reapply sunscreen since I’m home all day and my apartment gets a lot of sun. 

I’ve been doing a lot more masking, alternating with vitamin C masks, clay masks, overnight hydrating masks, sheet masks, and other AHA/BHA masks. Normally I would just do a clay mask on a Sunday but during quarantine I stocked up on some more masks to feel a bit more luxurious while adjusting to life at home. I plan on emerging from quarantine with my skin looking like a baby’s bottom!  

I have noticed my skin care routine has served as a moving meditation ritual in the morning. My A.M. skin care routine helps me separate my home mode of “breakfast/coffee” into work mode. At night my skin care routine helps me begin to wind down before bed. I never realized how hard I would lean on the routine to help me feel “normal.” It may seem ridiculous but sticking to my skin care routine has greatly helped my mental health. It has always been a stress reliever but now it has become almost meditative. 

Hyun-Ji, Skin Type: Normal-Combination

As a nurse, I wear a face mask up to 10 hours per day, for 4-5 days per week. Many of my colleagues and I have noticed an increase in acne, oiliness, irritation, and enlarged pores over the last 5 months, since we began to wear our face masks for longer hours.

To combat the changes to my skin condition, I’ve found that simplifying my skin care routine and using products with gentle ingredients has been helpful. I sometimes apply just 1-2 products to my skin after cleansing. My current favorite products include Round Lab 1025 Dokdo Toner, which gently exfoliates and hydrates skin, and hyaluronic acid products from THE LAB by Blanc Doux

Editor’s note: For comparable products, we recommend the Then I Met You Birch Milk Refining Toner and the hyaluron line from Hanskin, including the Hyaluron Skin Essence and Real Complexion Hyaluron Moisture Cream.

Naomi, Skin Type: Combination, Sensitive

During the week, I wear a face mask 3-4 hours per day, primarily during my work commute. I noticed that my cheeks are sometimes inflamed if I wear a mask for prolonged hours.

The best solution I’ve found for reducing inflammation, outside of decreasing the amount of time I wear a face mask, is to use products formulated with my favorite ingredient: mugwort. Mugwort helps calm redness and I find that it helps soothe my skin even when it’s at its most sensitive.

RELATED: Mugwort Skin Care Products to Calm Your Sensitive Skin

Sonia, Skin Type: Dry

Like many people, right now I have a lot of things on my mind beyond my skin care routine. I’ve diligently followed a morning and evening skin care routine for many years and I’m finding that I can lean on these habits right now. Rather than having to remind myself to do my skin care routine or apply SPF daily, these habits are already built into my daily routine.

Some days, while using my oil cleanser I’ll do a relaxing facial massage as a great way to relieve tension in my jaw. Other days I feel like a zombie just going through the steps of my skin care routine while my mind is on other things. And, to me, both are okay.

If you’re able to find a skin care routine that you can build into your daily routine, I think it’s a great way to establish some habits you can stick to, especially during more stressful times.

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