Living during the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way all of us live our daily lives. We’re working remotely, homeschooling our children, social distancing and of course, wearing face masks when we venture outside of our homes.
Mask-wearing has become the new normal, so has mask acne, or maskne.
While face masks help prevent the spread of disease, they also wreak havoc on our skin.
If you’re experiencing an increase in clogged pores, blemishes, inflammation and irritation with prolonged mask use, you’re not alone.
This condition sweeping the nation is called, ”maskne,” which is a clever combination of “mask” and acne”, and it’s defined by occasional breakouts, skin irritation, redness, itchiness and peeling around the jawline, cheekbones, chin, nose and mouth caused by friction from wearing a face mask.
So, how do we prevent face mask breakouts?
Find out our essential tips for preventing and treating maskne, plus the must-have products that should be in everyone’s acne arsenal.
Why do I get pimples after using a face mask?
If you don’t generally deal with acne, you may be confused by this increase in pimples and blackheads after wearing a mask.
Here are two reasons why maskne occurs:
➡️ Skin cells can’t shed properly underneath a mask.
- Dead skin cells clog pores and lead to blemishes. Normally, we shed them from our face throughout the day, but when you’re wearing mask for prolonged periods, they have nowhere to go, causing them to stay on your skin. Ultimately, they end up in your pores—right where you don’t want them.
➡️ The area beneath your mask creates a humid environment which contributes to pimples.
- Ever notice you break out more when our weather gets hotter and humid? Similarly, breathing under your mask creates a hot, humid environment ideal for breeding the bacteria on your skin that leads to breakouts.
How can I protect my face while wearing a mask?
Mask acne doesn’t have to be an inevitable byproduct from keeping yourself and others protected from COVID-19.
Take these precautions to prevent and treat maskne.
⭐️ Make sure your mask is breathable and fits properly.
- With a multitude of mask designs readily available, you should have no trouble finding one. Unfortunately, you may need to go through a few different designs and fabric types to find one that works for your skin long-term.
- While the homemade mask you purchased online may be cute, the fabric and shape could be a key factor in why you develop increased blemishes.
- Here is what you should look for in skin-friendly mask:
- Make sure the mask actually fits your face shape. You want it to fit snugly around the nose and sides of the face. This reduces friction that can cause skin irritation.
- Make sure there is enough room for you to actively talk and move your lips without them rubbing against the mask.
- Cotton masks are a good, breathable choice if you want a washable version. However, make sure you wash masks in fragrance-free detergent as fragrance can further irritate sensitive skin.
Additionally, we checked in with online and by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Joel Schlessinger, to get his take:
“Masks get dirty over the days of wear. If you can, wash your mask daily or every other day if it is being worn most of the day. Alternatively, change it out daily if it is disposable.
Mouthwash is a help if you tend to get humidity in your mask area or are wearing a constrictive mask. Generally, the germs that are in your mouth can affect the mask greatly and spread to the face, so mouthwash helps to kill some of the 'bad actors' in your mouth, all while keeping your breath minty-fresh!”
⭐️ Apply a topical antibiotic cream
- It’s not uncommon for bacteria to build up under a mask, which can lead to acne. To prevent this, dermatologists often recommend applying a topical antibiotic cream or gel on your skin before putting on your face mask.
⭐️ Toss disposable masks after each use
- After wearing a disposable mask, throw it away. Consider keeping several face masks on hand in case you need a fresh one.
⭐️ Remove your mask every 4 hours
- The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends removing your mask for 15 minutes every 4 hours. This will help give your skin a break.
- You should remove your face mask only when you can practice physical distancing with people who aren’t in your household. It’s also important to wash your hands before taking a mask break.
⭐️ Apply moisturizer before wearing a mask
- If your skin tends to be dry, a mask may cause irritation. Applying a noncomedogenic moisturizer can help hydrate your skin. A moisturizer can also serve as a barrier between your skin and the mask.
⭐️ Wash your face after wearing a mask
- Once you’re back at home, wash your face with a gentle cleanser. Follow with a moisturizer to protect your skin. Washing your face is especially important after sweating while wearing a mask.
⭐️ Establish a good skin care regimen.
- Wash your face regularly. During the pandemic, continue following your regular skin care routine to keep your skin healthy. During the pandemic, continue following your regular skin care routine to keep your skin healthy.
This includes washing your face:
- once in the morning
- once at night, before going to bed
- after sweating or wearing a mask
- When washing your face, use lukewarm water. Pat your skin dry with a clean towel. Avoid rubbing your skin as this may cause irritation.
- Use a gentle cleanser.
- Cucumber extract acts as a skin conditioning and softening agent, and has mild exfoliating properties.
- Sodium chloride acts as natural stringent and antiseptic agents that absorbs moisture, firms the skin and balances pH.
- Exfoliate and moisturize – Use a gentle exfoliant and hydrator to help clear away the smaller particles that hang out on your face and clog your pores.
- Use a noncomedogenic moisturizer.
After washing your face, apply a moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated. Use a noncomedogenic product, which likely won’t block your pores. Check out our FACE INC REJUVENATE series (Moisturiser and Antioxidant) which are oil free and water/gel based.
- Apply cortisone cream and moisturizer with ceramides.
If your maskne mostly involves irritation and raw skin, you may want to apply a mild cortisone cream to the area together with a moisturizer that contains ceramides. This can help protect your skin and relieve itching and irritation. Check out our FACE INC REJUVENATE series (Moisturiser and Antioxidant) which are oil free and water/gel based.
- Take a break from makeup.
Skip the makeup while you’re treating maskne. Beauty products such as foundation, concealer, and blush can clog your pores and prolong healing.
Since we’re all wearing masks for a while, add an acne treatment to your skin care arsenal.
Choose something gentle enough to use every day but strong enough to treat existing blemishes while preventing new ones. Check out our FACE INC CORRECT series (Blemish Essence, Blemish Concentrate, Acne Treatment), which are effective in treating pimples, control production of sebum, reduce and prevent appearance of whiteheads and blackheads.
Finally, maintaining a healthy skin barrier keeps breakouts at bay. Choose an oil-free moisturizer that properly hydrates skin without clogging pores. Check out our FACE INC REJUVENATE series (Moisturiser and Antioxidant) which are oil free and water/gel based.
⭐️ Add a weekly treatment to rid pores of bacteria.
Preventing maskne means keeping your pores as clear as possible. To do so, add a mask treatment to your regimen, like the VENNA Rice Spa which pulls bacteria, dirt, oil and debris from pores, giving you a smoother, more refined complexion. Plus, it contains rice and oats enzymes blend to further exfoliate skin, an important part of any acne regimen.
⭐️ Keep products on hand to cleanse and treat on the go.
Whether you wear a mask all day as an essential worker or only while picking up groceries, we all breathe a sigh of relief when we get back into our cars and take off our masks. Before you head home, take a few minutes to quickly cleanse your face, disinfect your mask and treat any visible irritation.
The bottom line
Maskne, or mask acne, involves acne breakouts from wearing a face mask. Symptoms may include chafing and irritation, along with pimple-like bumps if you have rosacea or dermatitis.
Although maskne can be frustrating, it’s important to keep wearing face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regular face-washing, moisturizing, and wearing the right type of mask may help prevent skin problems.
If your maskne is more severe, or if it still persists after trying these recommendations, be sure to follow up with your dermatologist or healthcare provider.