Suffering from Maskne? Here’s How to Avoid & Treat It

Whether we like it or not, masks are here to stay (at least for the foreseeable future). If you, like me, are experiencing facial irritation or acne from wearing a mask, I worked with my esthetician on a list of products and tips you can use to stay safe.

WHAT IS IT?

Acne mechanica, the technical term for what is now appropriately (if not slightly cringe-inducingly) being referred to as “maskne,” is a type of acne that occurs after repetitive physical trauma to the skin. It’s the same kind of acne that athletes get from say, wearing a helmet or a tight fitting jersey. It’s pretty simple: masks trap dirt, bacteria, sweat, moisture and oil (yum!) close to our skin, which in turn results in pimples, irritation, sores, and more. 

Keep reading for tips on avoiding or getting rid of maskne. 

HOW DO I AVOID IT?

  • Consider the type of mask that you’re wearing. Jennifer recommends cotton masks because they are softer and allow your skin to breathe more. It’s important to note that they will need to be washed* often and, of course, depending on your risk and how much protection you need, you may want to opt for something different.
  • Avoid wearing makeup under your mask. Yeah, it’s true. You may have to break up with make up for a little while in order to save your skin. Or, if you really don’t want to say goodbye, consider wearing it only in places that aren’t rubbed by a mask (i.e., mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, etc.)
  • Wash your face. Before applying your mask, wash your face with a gentle cleanser (we’re talking real simple, Cerave, Cetaphil, etc.). 

HOW DO I TREAT IT?

  • Professional services. I’ve been getting chemical peels about once every two weeks to combat acne. After suffering from horribly painful cystic acne for years (and then investing lots of money into getting rid of the evidence) I’m not messing around when it comes to combating the dreaded “maskne.” Jennifer can create a regimen that works for you and your budget.
  • Benzoyl peroxide. If you’re not able to spend the money on professional treatments, there are plenty of OTC treatments available at your local pharmacy or drugstore to help you say goodbye to those dreaded spots. Benzoyl peroxide is a common acne treatment and is a good option. I like this option from Target or this (more expensive) option from Sephora. 
  • Face masks. I have used this Peter Thomas Roth mask for years. It’s made of sulfur (another common acne fighting ingredient) and smells like farts (a huge selling point, right?). Another good choice is the Skinbetter Science Detoxifying Scrub that doubles as a mask. Can’t go wrong with a two for one!
  • Serums. I recently added two new products into my skin care routine because I’m hell bent on getting my skin cleared up and back to the glowy, wonderful condition that it was previously. I picked up the IS Clinical Active Serum which is supposed to help with acne (and fine lines and wrinkles) and the Biologique Recharche Lotion P50 which has a cult following. It’s smelly, but it’s touted as a magic potion so it’s worth suffering through.
  • Bonus. I’ve been using a Foreo Luna 2 to wash my face for almost a month now. It’s supposed to be more hygenic than a Clarisonic and I like that the back side is intended to use to push your products deeper into your skin, making them more effective. I might be drinking the Koolaid, but I think it helps!

All in all, I don’t mind wearing a mask. Acne is annoying but it’s preferable to getting COVID-19 (and potentially passing it on to someone who would fare worse than I would.) Are you suffering from maskne or irritation? Let me know how you’re doing!

*If you’re washing your mask by hand, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using 5 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of room-temperature water. Soak the mask in the solution for five minutes before rinsing with cool or room-temperature water and drying, in direct sunlight, if possible.

Quarantine Diaries: Chapter Three

APRIL 2-APRIL 19

I’m back for my third installment of Quarantine Diaries. I am apparently very bad at updating this in any sort of timely fashion, which is weird because I have all the time in the world to do it.

The latest leg of quarantine has reminded me very much of the episode of Friends where Monica is getting married but Chandler is missing, so Rachel is trying to stall her.

 

Same, Rachel Green. Same. Here are the things I’ve been doing to occupy my time.

WATCHING

I feel like I’ve made a concerted effort to watch less TV lately? But even “less” is still a ton of TV, so take that with a grain of salt. I watched Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu, which is so good. The finale is this Wednesday, and I’m super excited to watch it. I truly have no idea how it will end. In my last blog post, I mentioned that I had binged all of Big Little Lies and, I have to say, Reese Witherspoon is a little too good at playing an entitled, problematic white woman.

I’ve been watching a ton of stand up comedy because it makes me happy. I found out that Dane Cook’s Vicious Circle is on HBO and naturally I had to watch that. If you knew me at any point circa 2006-2010(ish?) you’ll know that my friend Mariah and I were obsessed with Dane Cook. It’s been a decade since I’ve seen it and I still knew every line by heart. I rewatched Dave Chappelle’s Netflix specials (yes, all of them), as well as his Mark Twain award. I watched Chris D’elia‘s new standup, No Pain, which was very funny.  And, of course, I watched Patton Oswalt’s Annihilation standup because it is one of my favorites of all time. It’s his first stand up special after losing his wife and it is such a beautiful marriage of hilarity and vulnerability. It makes me both laugh and cry every time I watch it. If you haven’t seen it, I definitely recommend watching it.

READING

I’ve been reading a lot lately, which I think is probably better for my mood and my brain than just mindlessly scrolling through Instagram while I have a show on for background noise.

I read Educated by Tara Westover and it was amazing. I read it in a little less than 24 hours because I was so enthralled by her story. If you haven’t read it or heard of it, it’s about a girl who is raised in Idaho by a survivalist, incredibly abusive Mormon family. She is “homeschooled” but her education basically amounts to helping her dad with his scrap business and her mom make tinctures. The amount that she overcomes is so inspiring. If you haven’t read it, you should.

I also started reading Plan B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. I got this book over a year ago when I was going through some ~things~ but never actually read it. I was a little skeptical about it because, you know, it’s Sheryl Sandberg. Yes, we all go through things but I think if you’re a billionaire the resources you have available to you make going through difficult times less difficult than, let’s say, someone who is grieving and also has the emotional expenditure of worrying how they’re going to pay their bills. She actually addresses that head-on in her book, which I found very refreshing. Despite my cynicism, I guess that grief and heartbreak are probably the great equalizers for all of us. And the book is surprisingly very honest and full of really wonderful advice. If you’re grieving the loss of something or someone, I think this would make you feel at least marginally better.

I finally finished reading The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. I don’t think it’s anything incredibly profound. In fact, I have independently come to all of these realizations at some point or another, but I think it was a good reminder. I’m thinking about doing a book review on it, because I feel like as we all collectively have our lives on pause right now, these could be good lessons to take with us when we enter into our “new normal.” Thoughts?

MAKING

I haven’t really been making much of anything. I’m still doing work for some freelance clients and that has been a welcome reprieve and a creative outlet.

I did attempt to make cookies the other day but I burnt the shit out of them and they were inedible. Basically, I was sad. I decided that making cookies would improve my mood. I burnt the cookies and was left cookie-less and had to ruminate on my failure in a hazy, smoke-filled apartment. I tried again the next day with much better results, thankfully.

DOING

I’ve been doing a lot of writing. In the last week alone I’ve written around 20,000 words, but it’s all personal writing that I won’t be sharing with anyone. Writing helps me feel better. I have started and stopped journaling many, many times in my life. It’s a hard style of writing for me to get into because it’s not polished, it’s not pretty or flowery. So I find myself wanting to go back and fix spelling or grammar or the syntax of a sentence, or sometimes even edit something for AP style, but I remind myself that this is only for me. And even though it’s ugly and messy and there I jump fluidly from one thought or feeling to the next, it helps me feel better.

I also have been trying to do a cross-stitch project that I bought at least six months ago but I cannot figure out how to do it and it get so frustrated and annoyed that I have to stop. It doesn’t help that Kramer bats at the strings. That’s not what I’m bad at it, but that’s what I tell myself.

I’ve also been doing a lot of online shopping. Because the shipping times are so delayed, I forget that I’ve bought things and I’m missing out on the instant gratification that normally accompanies a purchase. I bought some AirPods this week and I am really excited to get those. I have that that delivery date marked in my calendar, actually.

I am still avoiding the news, and sometimes Twitter, depending on the day. The day of the Trump rally protest in Lansing, I had to just put my phone down entirely. I cannot believe the total lack of empathy that some people have. We are all suffering in one way or another.

CONNECTING

I have still been in touch with my friends and family a lot, actually, I would say even more so recently. I have always called my mom at least once a day, even pre-quarantine, but I’m bothering her almost hourly at this point. We FaceTime regularly and I’m able to see Max and my dad and brother, too.

I dropped off Max’s Easter gifts to my family last weekend and being able to see my family but not go near them or go into the house I grew up in was a new kind of sadness for me. I also dropped off some supplies for my grandparents and then I cried all the way back to Lansing. I know that this is for the best, but it’s really hard.

I still talk to my friends Andrea, Jess and Jennifer almost every single day. I was also able to reconnect with an old friend last week, too—which was not something I ever saw happening, to be honest, but made me really happy.

TL;DR

Being quarantined by myself has not been easy. I’ve lived alone for seven years but this is one of the first times I have ever felt lonely. I’m taking it day by day, hour by hour sometimes, and doing my best—and I know everyone else is doing the same. How are hanging in there? Let me know!

Quarantine Diaries: Chapter Two

March 21-April 2

I’ve always considered myself a homebody but, if I’m being honest, I miss going outside. I miss my family; I miss strolling through the aisles at Sephora and Ulta, swatching makeup at my own leisure; I miss going to the grocery store and being blissfully unaware of the fact that everything I touch is apparently crawling with bacteria, germs and God knows what else.

There are good days and bad days, but the past week has felt like much more of a struggle for me.  I live alone (well, just me and Kramer) and I am bored and lonely and going slightly stir crazy. My sleep schedule is incredibly messed up and, despite the fact that my therapist told me to maintain a schedule for the sake of my mental health, I never fall asleep before 4 a.m. I haven’t felt very creative or productive, no matter how hard I try. It hasn’t been all bad, though.

Here’s how I’ve been coping:

WATCHING

I have been watching an ungodly amount of TV. Because I’m feeling so emotionally volatile, rewatching some episodes of Friends was making me incredibly sad, so I decided to start something else. I watched Tiger King. To be entirely honest, I was so hauntingly intrigued by it that I watched it in one sitting. It’s like a car accident—you just can’t look away.

I also watched season one and two of Big Little Lies which was amazing. I highly recommend if you like suspenseful shows—but you should be forewarned that there are some very graphic depictions of domestic abuse so if that is upsetting or triggering to you, maybe this isn’t a show for you.

I also watched all five seasons of Schitt’s Creek on Netflix and later realized that there is another season that’s airing right now. It took me a while to get into it, but after a few episodes, I started falling in love with the show, especially David Rose. He’s my favorite.

I’ve obviously continued to watch random episodes of Friends and The Office, primarily when I’m lying in bed and can’t fall asleep (which is every night, let’s be real).

READING

I started to re-read Matt Bellasi’s book “Everything is Awful” because it felt very apropos. I love Matt’s voice and it genuinely makes me laugh out loud when I read it. Laughing at his failures and humiliating moments make mine seem less salient, LOL.

I had been reading the book “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” by Bronnie Ware, but I had to stop because it’s a little too heavy for the current moment.

I’ve made a very concerted effort to limit the amount of news that I consume. I’m trying to stay informed as best I can, without going overboard and freaking myself out. I’m staying home and doing my part to flatten the curve, everything else is out of my control.

MAKING

I’ve been trying to channel my energy into creative pursuits by doing work for my freelance clients, brainstorming blog post ideas and practicing illustrations on my iPad. Some days I’ll have a random burst of energy and other days, I end up just staring at my computer. It is what it is!

DOING

The only good thing to come from this quarantine is the fact that I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning. On Sunday I deep cleaned my kitchen, leaving it cleaner than it has ever been before. I swept and scrubbed the floors, the baseboards, and the appliances. I also took everything out of my fridge and scrubbed all the shelves and drawers, threw out food that was expired or bad and then re-organized everything. Not only did it take up a solid portion of my day, but I felt a lot better when I was done.

Despite the fact that I haven’t left my house in weeks, my hamper is still full of dirty clothes & towels, which shows me that my failure to keep up with my laundry is less about me being busy and more just a character trait. I’m learning so much about myself!

I’ve also been journaling because that helps me process things and putting pen to paper always makes me feel better. It will also be interesting to go back and re-read some of these journal entries when this is all over. In addition to journaling, I’m doing a 10-day writing prompt, that I’ve trying to decide whether or not I want to share as a blog series.

One of my favorite things I’ve been doing this quarantine is playing Tetris, which is nerdy but I don’t care. If everyone else can play Animal Crossing, I can play Tetris. I used to play Tetris online all the time when I was in high school. My late friend Pat Spitler and I would play it during our journalism class and we would talk so much shit to each other. I would like to record to show that I always won.

CONNECTING

I try to stay in touch with my friends and family as much as possible. I talk to my mom and Max every day, either talking on the phone or Facetime. Max also sends me the most ridiculous Snapchats, which typically are the highlight of my day.

My friends Andrea and Jennifer check in on me almost every day, which is the sweetest thing ever and melts my heart. I call my grandma at least once a week to make sure that she and my grandpa are doing okay and have everything they need.

One of my favorite things is getting random memes throughout the day from my friends, which lately have either been about Tiger King or Corona, but either way, they make me laugh which also boosts my mood.

TL;DR

I’m hanging in there. The interesting part of this to me is that we’re all collectively experiencing the same thing. We’re all scared, lonely and grieving the lives we used to have. It will get better. It will take some time, but it will. How are you passing the time?