How to Avoid Maskne: Skincare Tips for Wearing a Mask

Some things get under everyone’s skin, and stubborn acne is definitely one of them. In the face of Covid-19, having clear and radiant skin is even more complicated due to face mask protocols; dermatologists are now seeing an increase in clients suffering from “maskne.” What is maskne, you ask? Simply put, maskne is acne that occurs when wearing a face mask for long periods. Mask + acne = maskne.

While this term may be new to you, many people working in professions that require face masks, like healthcare workers, have experienced this issue for quite some time. The upside to this, though, is that professionals understand the science behind maskne, and they know how to treat it. In this article, we’ll explain what causes maskne and how you can take on the rest of 2020 with confidence and clear skin.

What Causes Maskne?

Many things can cause maskne, but moisture and bacteria are two of the main culprits. When you speak or breathe into your mask, your breath creates a warm and moist place, perfect for bacteria, yeast, and other flora to form and flourish. These imbalances mix with sweat, dirt, and natural oils your skin accumulates and become trapped in your pores. The mask then holds this mixture in place and helps maskne quickly form and spread.

Other contributing factors are skin irritation and mask material. When something rubs against our skin and creates friction, the skin becomes irritated and inflamed. This irritation can cause skin conditions (like rosacea) or a flare-up of acne. The material your mask is made of also plays a big role. Synthetic fabrics are not ideal when trying to avoid irritation because they’re typically made up of harsher fibers. To cut down on irritation and chafing, experts suggest wearing masks made of smoother materials, like cotton and polyester blends.

Your maskne could also simply be an allergic reaction. If you needed another reason to avoid synthetic masks, here it is: Most synthetic masks are disinfected with abrasive chemicals, like formaldehyde, a harsh chemical that can cause allergic reactions for many. If you’re ahead of the curve and sporting a reusable 100% cotton mask, mind what you wash it with. Avoid scented detergents or softeners that often cause irritation and rashes. Opt for a scent-free, all-natural detergent instead.

How to Avoid and Treat Maskne


While maskne may seem unappealing and inevitable, there are simple ways to avoid it. Applying makeup has taken a backseat during quarantine, as most people are staying home as much as possible. But now that we’re trickling back into society, it can be tempting to dress up or show off the makeup techniques you learned in lockdown, but you may want to avoid makeup for just a bit longer. Liquid makeup, for instance, can house bacteria and over-clog pores, creating acne. If you can’t forgo the glow of glam, choose a light tinted moisturizer or BB cream.

Sticking to your routines can be extremely helpful, but now may be the time to tone down your skincare. Like makeup, too many skincare products can lead to build up, clogged pores, and the dreaded maskne. For now, use a gentle cleanser and a light layer of a fragrance-free moisturizer with SPF in it. However, if you start to develop irritation or chafing you should apply a thicker layer of moisturizer to act as a barrier and help heal your skin.

If you have maskne and are looking for a way to treat it, dermatologists recommend a light foaming cleanser or a ketoconazole cream to help treat the breakout. To treat the more tender spots, use a benzoyl peroxide treatment. If what you’re experiencing feels more like an itchy or irritated rash, you may have dermatitis. This can be caused by chemicals released from masks when they’re washed. If your maskne does not clear up or it continues to worsen, it’s time to contact your dermatologist.

Interested in a Career in Skincare?

If you’re craving a career in skincare, consider our esthetician program. As an esthetician, you’ll learn all things skincare and work hands-on with clients and help them achieve healthier and happier skin. So, are you interested in taking your passion for happy skin to the next level? Take a look at our program, and schedule a virtual admissions appointment where we can answer any questions.

Also, if you want to know which skincare products or trends actually work, check out our blog: Truth or Just Trending: Debunking the Latest Skincare Trends!

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