Wearing a mask while dancing in exchange for finally getting back into the studio seems like a small price to pay—though it doesn't make maskne any less pesky.
But the irritation and acne caused by sweating in a mask doesn't have to be part of the equation. To clear up breakouts and prevent new ones from popping up post-rehearsal, Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology, explains the importance of a strong (but simple) skin-care routine.
"Masks cause heat, friction and occlusion on the skin," says Levin, who trained in ballet through her teenage years. Combine that with the sweat that gets trapped by your mask and you've got the perfect environment for clogged pores and bacteria overgrowth. Levin notes that the best approach for clear skin is to consistently use a gentle cleanser in the morning and at night, followed by a lightweight moisturizer, and a topical cream with an active ingredient to treat and prevent breakouts.
And be wary of overdoing things. "Too many exfoliants further worsen the skin barrier disruption and can cause other inflammatory conditions," says Levin, who cautions against combining too many active ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and retinoids. "In general, I recommend adding one active ingredient at a time, and avoiding other irritating ingredients such as alcohol and fragrances."
To help get you started, try incorporating one (or more) of the products below to find your perfect lineup. But if breakouts still persist, don't hesitate to book an appointment with a professional. "For more moderate or severe breakouts, seeing a board-certified dermatologist is key," says Levin. And it doesn't even have to interfere with your training, as it's easier than ever to schedule a telehealth visit with a dermatologist.
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
"I recommend washing your face before dance class and after a full day," Levin says. This CeraVe cleanser is formulated with ceramides and hyaluronic acid so it won't strip your skin of essential moisture, and it's noncomedogenic (meaning it won't clog your pores).
Differin Adapalene Gel
An over-the-counter acne treatment can help to clear clogged pores, and Levin likes this drugstore find because it still provides prescription strength. "Differin is a retinoid or vitamin A derivative, which is the foundation of how dermatologists treat acne," she says of its ability to increase skin cell turnover to prevent breakouts. "However, it's important to ease into the frequency of the Differin gel, and use it with a moisturizer at night," she adds. That will help minimize signs of irritation, like dryness.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Oil-Free Cleansing Towelettes
Courtesy La Roche-Posay
It's important to keep your skin clean to help prevent acne, but excessively cleansing can actually just cause more irritation. Rather than wash your face after class or in between rehearsals (which is a pain to do in the studio anyway), Levin recommends using on-the-go wipes like La Roche-Posay's. Not only are they alcohol-free and fragrance-free, but they also include soothing thermal spring water, and a gentler derivative of salicylic acid to exfoliate the skin without causing irritation.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream
Skip the makeup, and apply a moisturizer under your mask instead. This gel formula from Neutrogena is lightweight and oil-free, so it absorbs quickly without leaving your skin feeling greasy. Plus, it still contains super-hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid to protect against moisture loss.
Avène Cleanance Hydra Soothing Cream
Because over-the-counter acne treatments like Differin can be drying as your skin adjusts, Avène created this multitasking cream. Use it at night for a more moisturizing option that also helps to reinforce the skin's natural barrier and calm signs of irritation like redness.
The Klog Soft Shield Pimple Patch
Courtesy The Klog
When you start to feel a pimple brewing, apply one of these clear patches from The Klog. The hydrocolloid bandages absorb excess oil and pus, keeping the affected area clean while speeding up healing time. The tiny adhesives are meant to stay in place throughout the day, but if too much sweat has them sliding around while you dance, switch to using a pimple patch while you sleep instead.