Maskne: Why Now Is a Good Time to Establish a Good Skincare Routine


Have you heard the latest internet buzzword in the beauty world? Many adults and teens are dealing with Maskne. (Mask+Acne=Maskne.) Even Vogue magazine has tackled this topic, sharing tips on taking care of our skin and makeup routines now that our skin “requires recalibrating due to wearing masks.” (I’m the first to say, “Wear a mask!”)

“These times call for a pared-down routine,” says Dr. Chaneve Jeanniton. “Steer clear of harsh scrubs, heavy-duty exfoliants, and thick creams, which have a propensity to exacerbate congestion.” Since we’re going to be wearing masks for a while, in order to manage mask acne, experts say our skincare routine should include “both treatment and ongoing prevention habits to keep your skin clear.” Anyone can be prone to mask-related acne.

For me, it is the perfect time to start following a skincare routine, for the first time in my life. Apparently, many other women like me are just starting a new skincare routine or are trying new ones during this pandemic. Who knew? I recently had a conversation with a newish friend, an expert in skincare. She told me there has been a huge uptick in skincare sales, during COVID, in the last few months, not necessarily because of masks. “Skincare is one of a few industries that have thrived during this,” she said. I trust her. Her skin is all dewy and pretty.

I asked her if she thought it was because so many of us have been at home, so we pass many mirrors, and suddenly, before we realize it, we’ve been staring at our skin for 45 minutes? Is it because people have stopped wearing makeup and can now really see what their skin looks like? Is it because dermatologists could no longer do Botox and fillers, so those relying on these injections were looking for any alternative? She thinks it’s a mixture.

When she asked what products I used for my skin, I honestly thought she would faint.

“When I take a shower I just wash my face with a bar of Irish Spring soap because I like the smell,” I told her. Upon hearing my admission, she looked horrified.

“Washing your face is the most basic and essential step of any routine,” says New York City dermatologist Dr. Carlos Charles, adding to wash twice a day, morning and night. I should have started taking care of my skin in my teenage years like my 16-year-old daughter does. She has her own personalized skincare routine she follows diligently each night and each morning and has for years. She’s almost 17 and has never once had a pimple. Not. Once. (She had newborn acne though.)

Luckily, I did not have acne as a teen, but on rare occasions, I would wake up with one massive hideous whitehead pimple, always in the most noticeable places, like on the tip of my nose. Even my strict parents understood how distressful this was. The one and only time I was allowed to skip school, was when one of these pimples flared up: pimple ditch days.

When my daughter was 13 or so, the facialist I see four times a year — at the beginning of each new season — taught my daughter a skincare routine, after scolding me for not properly taking care of my skin and for using a bar of soap (the horrors of all horrors). Apparently, I was a terrible role model for my daughter, when it comes to skin, so she taught my daughter a proper routine. The facialist mentioned she often teaches teens, but she’s had mothers bring in children as young as 11, to learn the basics, and the importance of skin up-keep, which means there are 11-year-olds out there who know more about skincare than I do.

Why didn’t I go as well to get a lesson? It’s a damn good question. Why didn’t I?

I do occasionally now break out on my jawline, badly, usually leading up to my period. Not because of COVID masks. These are stress pimples that also arrive when I’m stressed. They are hideous! They are the kind of cluster of pimples that actually hurts your face.

I’ve watched my daughter as she goes through her skincare routine. Using Kiehl products, she first cleanses, uses a toner, and then moisturizes. She also hates dry lips so carries around a number of chapsticks.

“The lips are going to be the first thing your mask is going to touch,” Dr. Kovarik says, unless you’re wearing cone-shaped masks. She recommends Vaseline.

The commitment to a new skincare routine will be my biggest hurdle, once I get this friend to tell me exactly what products I need to buy, keeping it as simple as possible, with well spelled out instructions on the ordering, with exactly how much of each product I need to use and how often. I will need an instruction manual for my skincare routine, probably the only instruction manual I will have or will ever read, including every single manual that came with any battery-operated toys for my children.

Do you think I had a clue what “Ultra Facial Toner,” was when I was my daughter’s age? Of course not! I still have no clue what toners even do. I don’t know what pores are.

But this is a generation of teens growing up in the age of selfies and Instagram and Kardashians and they know what pores are and they know to use moisturizers with sun protection, unlike mothers like me, now noticing fine lines, regretting not using sunscreen, spending my teens and twenties baking under the sun like a hotdog on a BBQ. These kids today know both what toner and TikTok are.

Thankfully a good skincare routine includes three basics (Still two many steps too long.)


“The goal of any skin-care routine is to tune up your complexion…and also troubleshoot or target any areas you want to work on. Beauty routines are an opportunity to notice changes within yourself.” This has really motivated me to also start a skincare routine, finally. What changes will I notice within myself? (Talk to me in six weeks!)

Experts say, to start seeing results, aim to use a product over at least six weeks, once or twice daily. (Is there not a scientist out there who could come up with one simple cream – just one please – that covers all skincare, instead of multiple products?)

There are also special eye creams and serums and masks, for specific areas of the face. I want to use those too, so I guess I will also need to add my skincare routine to my calendar on my phone. Oh, it’s Amy’s Birthday. Oh, and I have to do a mud mask tonight!

“You need time to reap the benefits,” says Dr. Rachel Nazarian, a Manhattan dermatologist. “Results are only seen through consistent use.” Maybe this is why so many women have started new skincare routines. Simply because we now have more time; more time in the morning, in the day, before bed, because we don’t have to get up as early.

So, yes because I have more time, plus fighting the fine lines, and to be preventative, I am going to start a proper skincare routine.

I couldn’t help but laugh at a dermatologist who said “….wearing sunscreen can also help prevent other mask-related skin issues, such as tan lines.”  Who knew Maskne and Mask tan lines would ever be such a topic of interest?


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