How To Control “Maskne”

COVID-19 has been the biggest instigator of stress this entire year. Not only are we dealing with the virus, quarantine depression, and people who still don’t know how to use Zoom, many have been struggling with mask acne or “maskne.”

You may be suffering from maskne if you have noticed frequent breakouts around the bridge of the nose, along the chin, or sides of the cheeks. The constant friction of the mask, coupled with increased heat and moisture traps dirt around the face and causes maskne. If any of these symptoms sound familiar, here are some ways to control it.

Woman in white robe pointing at common mask acne areas

Wash/change your mask often.

This is the most important piece of advice during the pandemic! Although your mask is protecting you, a dirty mask can also be your downfall. Just like your clothing, exposure to the elements causes your mask to collect dirt. It is necessary for you to wash and change your mask often to avoid moving impurities from your mask to your face. For those of you that have a washable mask, wash with fragrance-free detergent to avoid possible skin irritations and hang to dry. If you need your mask ASAP, dry your mask with fragrance-free dryer sheets.

Woman in sports clothes instructing to wash mask to prevent mask acne

Keep your mask dry.

Bacteria-causing acne benefits from hot and wet environments, so it is important to keep your mask dry. Your mask sits on your face and creates a small pocket around your mouth where bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes can fester. Dry your mask or get a new one if you happen to get caught in the rain or tend to spit when you talk. The moisture coupled with trapped dirt is a certified recipe for disaster.

Cleanse properly every day.

For those of you who obsess over skincare like me, you are probably already doing this. If you do not have a routine at all, this one’s for you. As masks become part of our new norm, it is even more necessary to cleanse your face twice a day (morning and night). Double cleansing ensures your skin is as clean as possible so any potential bacteria cannot survive long enough to cause acne. Although a morning cleanse is important, cleansing in the night is what will ultimately save you. Cleanse the face for at least 60 seconds to ensure any dirt, sebum, oils, etc. have been removed and apply moisturizer liberally.

Skip your makeup.

I am obsessed with makeup, so it’s definitely hard for me to say this, but I am obsessed with healthy skin more. So, I am here to tell you to skip the makeup if you know you have to wear a mask. Trust me, it’s better this way and no one can see it anyway. Under your mask, the heat and friction will cause the makeup to clog your pores and increase sebum which leads to acne. When you feel the need to pretty up the face, go with a tinted moisturizer or blurring sunscreen instead.


For more information on how to handle “maskne” and other preventative measures visit the American Academy of Dermatology.