Want To Get Rid of Maskne? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

woman with maskne using a mobile phone
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Removing your face mask upon arriving home may give you a reason to breathe a sigh of relief. Without a mask, you can now inhale and exhale as deeply as you please with no restrictions. That is until you discover that wearing a mask can have consequences on your skin: that acne breakout that now stares at you in the face: What to do about maskne? What is the best maskne treatment out there?

It may not be among the gravest of consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, but as one of the latest additions to our everyday vocabulary, maskne is real. And if there’s anything we’ve learned over the past year, it’s that even the smallest of things can make a difficult situation even more frustrating.

Maskne Definition: What is Maskne?

Maskne, or mask acne, is a skin irritation that results in acne breakouts from wearing a face mask. This type of skin reaction can be caused by several different factors, and can refer to any of the following conditions:

  • Acne – occurs when our pores are clogged with oil, dirt, and dead skin cells.
  • Rosacea – is a skin condition that causes redness and visible blood vessels in the face. Wearing a mask may cause flare-ups, which may also lead to pimples.
  • Contact Dermatitis – occurs when you’re allergic to the material of your mask. This can be seen as a red rash with irritation and blisters.
  • Folliculitis – happens when there’s an infection in the hair follicles of the skin. This causes itchy or painful red bumps that resemble an acne breakout.

Maskne Treatment: What to do about Maskne

Before searching for the best maskne products in the market, take a moment to observe your habits when you have your face mask on. By now, you’re probably so used to reaching for it when there’s a need to go outside. But what you may not be conscious of is how you’re casually touching your face, or constantly adjusting your mask — causing the repeated rubbing of the mask against your skin.

If you have oily, sensitive skin, you’re increasing your likelihood of acne breakouts because friction damages the outer protective layer of the skin. It makes the skin more sensitive, causing clogs in the oil glands.

Mild cortisone cream may be the best maskne product to address a maskne that mostly involves irritation and raw skin. The cortisone can help lessen the inflammation of acne, and reduce its swollen appearance. Apply the cream together with a moisturiser that contains ceramides to protect your skin and relieve itching and irritation.

In addition, if you already have acne-prone skin, you may want to review your diet and take a look at our article on the Best and Worst Food for Acne.

Maskne Tips: How to Prevent Maskne

Because it may take a while before we can enjoy being in public without the safety of our masks, we’ll just have to find a way to work around our maskne problems in the meantime. Here are several tips on how to treat maskne, and how to find the best products for maskne for you:

1. Apply moisturiser before wearing a mask 

After washing your face, apply a moisturiser to keep your skin hydrated. The moisturiser also serves as a barrier between your skin and the mask.

For those who are concerned that this can lead to oily skin and blocked pores, we suggest using oil-free, or in particular, non-comedogenic products (those specifically formulated not to block or clog pores). Dr Yoram Harth, Board Certified Dermatologist and Medical Director of MDacne suggests applying a thin layer of a light, water-based moisturiser underneath your mask.

One of the best moisturizers for maskne and its prevention is Charlotte Tilbury’s new Magic Cream Light. You can also try Tatcha’s The Water Cream.

2. Skip the makeup or go mineral

If you already have maskne, it’s best to avoid makeup while undergoing maskne treatments. While you may not want the world to see you your breakouts, beauty products such as foundation, concealer, and blush can only make things worse — they can clog your pores and prolong the healing period for your skin.

As alternative skincare for maskne, you can go for mineral makeup from brands like bareMinerals or Glo Skin Beauty, which are less likely to clog pores than regular makeup. Because they don’t contain any oil or wax additives, they’re also gentler on the skin and cause fewer breakouts.

3. Remove your mask every 4 hours 

To help give your skin a break, the American Academy of Dermatology Association suggests removing your mask every 4 hours and keeping it off for about 15 minutes.

Keep in mind though, that you should only remove your face mask in safe places (at home or inside your care when you’re alone) and in accordance with physical distancing regulations. Remember also, to wash and sanitise your hands before taking your mask off.

4. Wash fabric masks after every use 

Because you’ll want a clean mask whenever you go somewhere, make sure that you wash your reusable masks with either an unscented hypoallergenic laundry detergent, a gentle cleanser or any shampoo. After doing so, dry the mask completely before using it again.

In choosing the material for your cloth masks, it’s best to avoid synthetic fabrics, such as nylon or rayon because these materials are known to irritate the skin. If you’re using medical masks, on the other hand, you’ll have to dispose of them after each use and wear a new one every day.

5. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser after removing your mask 

Dermatologists suggest using a gentle cleanser (like Fresh’s Soy Face Cleansing Milk or CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser) to remove oil, dirt, and bacteria from the skin after wearing a mask. If you don’t have the time or the means to wash your face at a particular time, you can opt for gentler cleansing wipes such as Cetaphil Facial Cleansing Wipes.

Washing your face is especially important after sweating, which can increase your risk for mask-related increased acne breakouts.

6. Look for products with salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is helpful not only in ensuring that your face (and mask) is clean but also in maskne treatment and prevention. Products such as salicylic acid spray for maskne are popular because they are effective in unclogging pores and preventing lesions, especially when used continually on milder acne.

According to dermatologist and editor of DermBoard.org Dr Viseslav Tonkovic-Capin, MD, “facial pads pre-soaked with 2% salicylic acid are very helpful and relatively inexpensive if used before and after using a mask.”

For a fuss-free application, you can look for salicylic acid in maskne sprays or try Caudalie’s Vinopure Natural Salicylic Acid Pore Minimizing Toner, which contains 100% natural salicylic acid derived from wintergreen.

7. Apply retinol topically

Another maskne tip from skincare experts is using products with retinol in order to increase cell turnover in the skin. Retinol, a form of vitamin A, is highly beneficial in boosting the amount of collagen in the body, making the skin plump and improving its texture.

For those who are prone to have blackheads and whiteheads, your maskne skincare should include topical retinol that is lightweight and non-greasy. Among those that provide hydration with the benefits of pure retinol are CeraVe Renewing Retinol Serum and Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil.

Lastly, make sure to use retinol only at nighttime,  as the retinoid compounds break down in sunlight, making them less effective. If your maskne treatment also includes salicylic acid, these two products are best used separately, to avoid dryness and skin irritation. You can alternate their use each night, or use salicylic acid in the morning.

Act on Your Maskne Today

While we eagerly await a more permanent solution to the coronavirus pandemic, we understand that face masks are bound to be a part of our everyday lives for a bit longer. Knowing how to prevent maskne and how to get rid of maskne are then vital in ensuring the health of our skin as we continue to keep ourselves and those around us, safe.