Dr. Pimple Popper shares her top tips for fighting mask-ne
The derm behind everyone's favourite Instagram guilty pleasure weighs in
By Delaney Loane
Digital Beauty Editor / July 22 2020
We're all well aware that face masks are the best way to protect ourselves right now. The only issue is, while they're keeping the bad stuff out, they're often trapping oil and sweat in, causing our complexions some major congestion issues. And so, because 2020 is officially some kind of cosmic joke, we're now suffering through spurts of blemishes in the areas we're covering up; yep, mask-ne is a thing, and no, we're not happy about it, either.
But considering it's not all that easy to visit your own dermatologist at the moment, we consulted the internet's one: Sandra Lee, aka Dr. Pimple Popper. Because while (as her title suggests) Lee certainly knows her way around popping a pimple (a fact her 3.9 million Instagram followers can attest to), she's got as much to offer in the advice arena as she does when it comes to can't-look-away style videos.
If you're keen to keep the protection, but ditch the pimples (like seriously, is there not enough to deal with right now?), here are Lee's top tips for keeping mask-ne at bay.
First things first: yes, you should absolutely still be wearing your mask. “You don’t want to take your mask off, of course; [in fact], you want to keep it on for as long as possible,” Lee confirms. “The problem is, though, that people are having acne breakouts under their masks because they’re wearing them for so long, and [because] a lot of us have to wear the same [reusable] mask again [and again],” she adds. So, keeping your mask fresh with frequent washing is an absolute must, especially considering what's going on beneath it with every wear...
“A lot of us are getting acne breakouts even though we’ve never had acne before, or maybe we’ve had a little bit here and there, but now it’s really getting worse. [Well, the breakouts are occurring] because of occlusion,” she explains. “Occlusion from a mask [happens because] you’re sweating under there, [so] if you [already] have a propensity to develop oily skin, [the perspiration] makes things worse. Pores [become] clogged, blackheads and whiteheads form and a breakout ensues.”
Keep acid-loaded exfoliating wipes with you on the go
“One tip I have that I think is great and very convenient and easy, is to get some resurfacing swipes,” Lee advises. “[I like ones which have] glycolic acid and salicylic acid in them - both of these [acids] are really great [for] promoting exfoliation of the skin and clearing out your pores.” More powerful than traditional face wipes, but still an option you can use on-the-go, these peel pads are great for keeping in your bag to swipe over the skin whenever you get a minute to touch up in a clean space. By stopping to absorb and balance oil and impurities during the day, you’ll be able to limit the amount that’s built up by the time you can finally get home for your final cleanse.
Double down on exfoliation during your end-of-the-day cleanse
"After you use [those] and you come home, or in the evening, if you have active acne you can use a salicylic acid cleanser to wash your face, which you can do [in addition to your on-the-go wipe use]," she shares. "It doesn’t matter if you’re doubling up on salicylic acid, [because it's an effective ingredient that] settles down within your pores and keeps them [free] of dirt, and debris and oil, so I would come home and wash my face [with it] as well [to ensure they are effectively cleared out]."
Harness the powers of pore-clearing ingredients at all times
While we wouldn't always encourage teaming saliyclic or glycolic acids with other powerful purifiers, extra congestion sometimes calls for extra action. It's important to start slowly, though, and let your skin build up a tolerance to the combination, as excessive or overzealous applications of the pairings can sometimes cause redness, dryness and flaking. But, if/when your skin is able to handle it, Lee recommends switching between two particular topical ingredients (one in the morning, and the other at night) in addition to an effective acid-powered exfoliation routine.
"If you have an active acne bump or active acne on your face, you want to use a little retinol at night, as it [will help] with blackheads and whiteheads. Then in the day, use a benzoyl peroxide lotion, and a good [lightweight] moisturiser too, because these acne products can be a little bit drying," Lee advises, confirming that even if oil is the issue, hydration is just as vital as exfoliation.