Behind the mask

QASA intern Phindile Dlamini photographed by caregiver Franco Maziya.

While masks are an absolute must for protecting against COVID-19, they can cause or aggravate acne. Joy Duffield shares some tips on protecting your skin

Maskne’s is the new buzzword in the beauty industry. I am sure most of us have ended up with a spot or two on our face during puberty. And then there are others who have lived with full- blown acne, which is not only unsightly, but can be quite painful.

Either way, we felt as though everybody’s focus was on nothing but the pimples. All we wanted to do was to hide behind a mask. Little did we know that such a mask would become a reality to protect us from a deadly virus! Unfortunately, the same mask that protects us from the deadly Coronavirus has brought along some complications with the skin.

What is Maskne?

Most acne is caused by bacteria on the skin. With Maskne, this is exacerbated by the prolonged use of masks during which the skin is unable to “breath”. The skin becomes warm and moist, which creates a wonderful breeding ground for bacteria. The constant friction of the mask while talking also irritates the skin to cause various forms of dermatitis with dry, itchy and sometimes raw areas.

How to avoid it

We cannot escape the need to wear a mask, but we can ensure that our skin is kept clean and is correctly moisturised before and after wearing a mask. Avoid reaching for the closest bottle of sanitiser to deal with your skin outbreaks. The alcohol will dehydrate the skin’s natural protective barrier!

At the end of the day, make use of a gentle cleanser to remove the build-up of sweat, dirt and bacteria and follow with a suitable moisturiser for your skin. Making use of a gentle fragrance-free protective moisturiser is a must to prevent the dry irritated skin.

Feel free to seek professional advice from a qualified facial therapist to guide you in the right direction for the correct skin care for your skin type. Generally, salons will provide this consultation free of charge.

“We wash our underwear daily, so do not forget to apply the same hygiene rule to your face mask.”

Selecting the correct fabric mask can also help in the prevention of skin problems. Choose 100-percent cotton or silk masks as your first choice. As a hygiene rule we wash our underwear daily, so do not forget to apply the same hygiene rule to your face mask.

We cannot always hide behind a mask, so my advice to you is give your skin a few minutes of attention each day to avoid chronic eczema or post-acne scarring.


Joy Duffield is a C4 – C5 quadriplegic since 2005. Married with no children, she founded the Beauty Academy International in 2002. She was also a finalist in the entrepreneur category for the Business Woman Association (BWA) in 2015.



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