The ongoing global pandemic has dealt us numerous challenges both socially and commercially in 2020. Little did we know at the beginning of the year, the role face coverings and masks would play in our daily lives.  

For nearly two months, England has been living under new laws surrounding where and when we should wear a facemask. Anyone not wearing a facemask in a store, bank or post office will be subject to mandated fines of £100, doubling each time someone is found in breach of the rules.  

As we adjust to the ‘new normal’ of mask-wearing, for those who wear them for prolonged periods of time, such as healthcare professionals, retail workers and public transport operatives, some have started to experience ‘Maskne’. 

‘Maskne’, or its medical term Acne Mechanica, is a type of skin irritation and breakout caused by the continuous friction and rubbing of a mask to the epidermis of our skin, causing micro-tears, which allow the ingress of bacteria to build up and clog the pores. Alongside the damp and warm environment created by continual mask-wearing, this unfortunate combination promotes the development of spots and skins irritations through our sweat, breathe and body heat.  

‘Maskne’ is not to be confused with Acne (Acne Vulgaris). Acne Vulgaris is the common form of acne that affects many of us during puberty. Unlike ‘Maskne’, acne is caused by hormonal sensitivity affecting the glands to produce excessive amounts of oil, causing pores to become thickened and inhibiting dead skins cells from shedding efficiently. Therefore, the treatment for ‘Maskne’ and acne are very different. For those suffering from acne, it is recommended that they seek medical advice for their treatment.  

So how can we treat ‘Maskne’? 

  1. Keep your mask clean: oils, sweat, make-up, bacteria and pollution all get trapped in masks and face coverings. Keeping facemasks clean and free from these contaminants helps supports skin cleanliness and further reduces the risk of ‘Maskne’. It’s essential that we use fragrance-free and soaps for sensitive skin to clean masks as this avoids any further irritation.  
  1. Cleansing: Daily cleansers clear skin pores, neutralising the pH levels of the oils on the skin and support an overall healthy skin appearance. By ridding the skin of impurities, we can improve its health and resilience.  
  1. Moisturising: Using a light moisturiser enriches the skin, creating a barrier between our face and the mask. The barrier provided by moisturiser reduces the risk of a mask causing the micro-tears that enable the ingress of bacteria.  
  1. Spot Treatment: For those stubborn and irritant spots caused by ‘Maskne’, targeted treatments can be used to soothe inflamed areas of the skin. Although results may not happen instantaneously, it’s imperative that we continue to care for our skin whilst wearing masks and other face coverings.  

Unfortunately, for the immediate future, it appears that we will all be continuing to wear facemasks when in public spaces. It is essential that we continue to try and halt viral transmission, prevent the asymptomatic spread and keep the most vulnerable of our society safe from COVID-19 through wearing of a face mask or covering. 

Here at Cornelius, in response to the global outbreak of COVID-19, we have a collection of ingredients designed to address current hygiene and skincare trends arising from the ongoing pandemic. Through working in conjunction with partners, such as SILAB and RITA, we can supply a range of ingredients that can soothe and protect the skin from the effects of prolonged mask-wearing.  

NEUROFENSE®, from SILAB, uses the insight of Chinese medicine and fuses it with modern science to create an overall soothing concentrate that acts on three biological components of the skin: neuronal hyper-reactivity, quality of the cutaneous barrier and skin inflammation. Derived from the root of the red sage plant, NEUROFENSE® is designed to relieve, restore, comfort and protect sensitive skin. SILAB has also launched FILMEXEL® – a natural biopolymer which acts as a second skin. Used as a film-forming ingredient, FILMEXEL® protects the skin from harmful exogenous agents.  

The diverse plant-based ranged of Acyl Lactylates from RITA provides multi-functional benefits for fragrances, oils, and emulsion systems. Notably, its Pationic ISL works as a superior solubilising agent with additional conditioning benefits that have shown noticeable and real results for improved skin appearance. 

Through delivering simple yet effective formulations that enable consumers to successfully manage ‘Maskne’ through their skincare and beauty regimes in the new norm, we can continue to provide our expertise, innovation and excellence in everything we do. 

To find out how the Cornelius personal care experts can support your product development needs, please visit or call +44 (0) 1279 714 300.