There’s a lot of new words and terms that 2020 has unfortunately made commonplace. It’s hard to remember we weren’t uttering the words “social” and “distancing” together on a daily basis six months ago, and now ‘maskne’ is here as the new term of the year.

The word refers to skin issues caused by wearing facial masks – masks plus acne equals maskne. Masks are mandatory in parts of Victoria and an accessory of choice in many other areas and, while their health benefits are vital, skin can become congested and breakout due to constant mask wearing. This is a difficult problem for hairdressers wearing masks on long shifts in salon – so we’re here with the skin saviour techniques you would never have thought necessary this time last year.

“Maskne is very much like acne mechanica – It’s the result of environmental factors that are exacerbated by friction, heat or pressure,” explained Zoe Devine, Skinstitut Expert. “Wearing a facial mask can create the ideal environment for acne mechanica to form as the warm moist air is trapped under the mask and the friction can cause clogged pores and breakouts.”

The solution to this is – as is the magic word of the pandemic – hygiene, and constant attention on both the mask itself and your skincare routine in being as clean and healthy as possible.

“You must follow strict hygiene practices when wearing masks and ensure you change your mask every 4 hours,” said Skin Renu’s clinic practitioner, Sylvia Down. “If you notice any dampness within the mask you should change it immediately, however if you use a reusable mask it’s best to wash it daily for maximum hygiene. When you take your mask off it is important to be aware of where you are putting it down, so it does not attract more bacteria to its cloth surface.”

Other essential steps including hanging up your mask once it’s been washed to air dry and be treated by UV light to kill any bacteria.

“If you wear a mask for a long period of time at work, washing your face with a clean face towel and reapplying your moisturiser regularly will help to avoid bacteria build up during the day,” Sylvia continued.

Cleansing and hydration remain the two key factors in protecting and nourishing skin under duress from constant mask wearing. Gentle products that won’t add any extra stress to the skin are a go-to in 2020.

“A gentle cleanser is critical to remove excess oil, perspiration and makeup on the skin,” explained Aesthetics Rx Expert, Nicola Kropach. “It is important to keep the surface of the skin clean, without causing any additional stress with harsh surfactants and fragrances that can strip and irritate the delicate balance of oil and moisture in the skin. The use of Salicylic acid is recommended to gently exfoliate and help purify deeper into the pores breaking down sebum, grime and dead skin cells that may lead to the congestion and bacterial overgrowth.”

“It is also important to reinforce the protective barrier function of the skin with a moisturiser to help combat damage on the surface of the skin from constant pressure, chaffing and rubbing which can compromise the skins ability to protect and maintain itself making it vulnerable, especially to bacteria,” she continued.

Pack out your bathroom cabinet with essential beauty items and pay particular focus to your mask schedule and skincare routine. After all, 2020 has been hard enough without maskne emerging as a common skincare sin.