The CDC continues to provide clear scientific evidence that face coverings are society's most effective weapon against the further spread of COVID-19, so you lean into our new normal and stock up on cute masks to wear outside. The problem comes when you get home, rip yours off, and notice an itchy chin rash and pimples already sprouting above your upper lip — and start Googling "cures for maskne."
Fortunately, the answer doesn't have to cost you the price of a Zoom call with a dermatologist: We've spoken to the beauty industry's top skin experts, and they've spilled their top-shelf products for maskne prevention. From face wash and mineral sunscreen for sensitive skin to a classic drugstore rash guard and non-toxic laundry detergent, find your five-piece maskne-fighting toolkit, ahead.
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Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser
A good safeguard against summer maskne flareups: wash your face more often. "It's important to wash your face thoroughly before and after wearing a mask," says NYC-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. "In terms of formula, foaming cleansers are more effective than hydrating options for removing excess oils and dead skin cells that can potentially clog pores. For example, Aveeno's Clear Complexion Foaming cleanser is a great gentle, non-irritating wash."
Aveeno Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser- 6 fl oz, $, available at Target
Avène Cicalfate+ Restorative Protective Cream
Skin hydration and skin oiliness are two separate issues, meaning even those who are prone to acne will benefit from using a lightweight moisturizer year-round. Plus, as dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, explains, if you're wearing a mask, you want to make sure you skin barrier is in the best shape possible. Dr. Gohara recommends Avène's Cicalfate cream, which is featherlight and features a proprietary postbiotic formula that helps repair compromised skin (like, say, from experiencing the rough friction of a disposable face mask).
Avène Cicalfate+ Restorative Protective Cream (1.3 fl. oz.), $, available at DermStore
Unsun Tinted Mineral Sunscreen
Though you may want to skip foundation or concealer under your face mask, don't forgo your sunscreen. "Even though a mask will cover a large portion of your face, it’s still incredibly important to apply a broad-spectrum, high-SPF physical sunscreen every single day," says cosmetic doctor Lauren Hamilton of London's Victor & Garth Aesthetics. "The key ingredient to look for is zinc oxide, which can be tolerated by most skin types. Zinc oxide can leave a white cast on darker skin, so be sure to trial different formulations and assess how each blends with your skin tone." When it comes to respecting all skin tones and providing effective sun protection, Unsun checks all the boxes.
Unsun Cosmetics UNSUN Mineral Tinted Sunscreen, $, available at DermStore
Aquaphor Healing Ointment
Though it might not be the sexiest medicine-cabinet staple, a tube of Aquaphor is a good thing to have on hand in case of mask-induced irritation. "If you notice this kind of irritation after removing the mask, wash the area with water and a gentle cleanser, then apply an ointment like Aquaphor Healing Ointment to help the skin heal," says Orit Markowitz, MD, Director of Pigmented Lesions and Skin Cancer at Mount Sinai Hospital. "Also, if you're applying concealer or foundation on areas around the mask, it's helpful to use Aquaphor beforehand to create a barrier between your skin and the makeup."
Aquaphor Unscented Aquaphor Healing Ointment Tube, $, available at Target
PUR Home Liquid Laundry Detergent
The same way you wash your face after it's been trapped behind a sweaty piece of cloth, you want to give the offending mask the same treatment. "Wash your mask daily to avoid a buildup of bacteria on the cloth," says dermatologist Elizabeth Mullans, MD, who adds that the detergent or soap you use is important. "Since a mask rests on your face, harsh chemicals and fragrances in your detergent can cause a skin reaction. I recommend using a hypoallergenic and fragrance-free option, and you can also add a splash of white vinegar, which is a natural antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal agent."
PUR Home 50 oz Liquid Laundry Detergent, $, available at PUR Home
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