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Ways to Treat and Prevent Maskne

Maskne / Irritation from face masks - proper cleansing/exfoliation + soothing ingredients for irritation


First of all, thank yourself for wearing a mask! We’ve all hit that COVID wall, the point where we JUST. CAN’T. STAY. INSIDE. ANYMORE. But we are in this together in order to protect ourselves and those around us from transmitting coronavirus, and mask wearing is a key public health measure to decrease viral spread. 

Doing our part in preventing coronavirus comes with its own issues. Wearing a mask constantly on your face that not only rubs against your skin but also traps moisture, dirt, and oil creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and organisms. It is a perfect storm of conditions for acne. It’s become such a common problem, especially among health care workers, who spend hours in masks to perform their jobs, that it got its own name: maskne.


Maskne, or acne caused by wearing a mask, isn’t a new problem. Acne mechanica pops up frequently in sports. For instance, a football player may experience acne on the areas where the helmet or chin guard rubs against the skin. We have follicles that undergo friction and pressure from headwear or face coverings that rub against your skin get irritated and flare. Maskne, consequently, tends to happen typically in the areas around the mouth and nose.


And if that’s not all, maskne can also worsen skin issues that already exist or cause new ones. Partly due to the reasons outlined above, and also because masks can intensify delivery of skin care products to your skin. It’s like applying lotion to hands and wearing gloves, or to feet and wearing socks - masks may be boosting active ingredients like acids or retinols to the point of irritating your skin, instead of helping it.


That’s the bad news, but there is always hope! Here are some ways you can prevent and treat maskne.


  1. Consider what your mask is made of. Dermatologists recommend 100% cotton masks, as cotton is breathable. It is easy to clean, which brings us to the next point…
  2. Clean your mask (if possible) frequently! Especially if you’re sweating a lot, keeping your mask clean will go a long way to preventing maskne. Perspiration from our mouths can also cause bacteria build-up. A mask with oil, dirt, and sweat build up will rub these contaminants back into your skin, along with any bacteria or organisms.
  3. Evaluate your current skin routine and streamline. Because wearing a mask can intensify the delivery of skin care products to your skin, think about streamlining your skin care routine. Try products with fewer ingredients or products that are naturally sourced. If you’re not wearing as much makeup during this time, you can consider making your skin care routine more basic, just a cleanser and moisturizer.
  4. If necessary, move your heavy hitters to a nighttime routine and/or reduce your current actives usage. Try a basic routine in the morning to minimize masking over harsh or heavy products. Using those products for your nighttime routine when you’re not usually wearing a mask. If you must wear certain products during the day, try reducing your usage of active ingredients. Try spot coverage instead of full, or skip days.
  5. It may not be maskne. Acne can also be caused by environmental changes, stress, and diet, all of which have been impacted by life during COVID-19. If you develop itching or rashes, it may be contact dermatitis, which you can get from metal or rubber parts of masks rubbing against your skin. Consult a dermatologist if symptoms persist.


Whether your skin’s suffering maskne, stress-induced eczema, seasonal dry and rough patches, blue light hyperpigmentation, or french fry oiliness, SKINFOOD is here to help. Maybe it’s time to ease off the scrubby exfoliation wash off masks and try a simpler cleanser, like Egg White Perfect Pore Cleansing Foam. If you’re not wearing a full face of makeup daily, try swapping out the oil cleansers for Rice Daily Brightening Cleansing Tissues. To soothe irritated skin, give our new Carrot Carotene line a try. It’s an ultra-soothing vegan line rich in beta-carotene and antioxidants specially formulated to protect and calm sensitive and irritated skin.


In the end, gentleness is key. Know that we’re all going through a stressful time, full of problems and situations we may not be able to control. Be gentle with yourself, be gentle with others, and be gentle with your skin. We’re going to get through this. And again, thank you for wearing a mask.


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