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Face masks may be the new normal, but skin irritation and breakouts don’t have to be. With more of us wearing protective face coverings, “maskne” has become a common skin concern that affects all skin types. While masks are often essential, there are ways to help treat and prevent maskne for balanced, healthy-looking skin.


What is Maskne?

Maskne, also known as acne mechanica, refers to blemishes and skin irritation caused by wearing a mask or protective face covering. From breakouts to clogged pores to dry and chapped skin, maskne can take on a variety of forms depending on your skin type, environment and even the type of mask that you wear.


What Happens to Your Skin When You Wear a Mask?

Wearing a mask creates a “greenhouse effect” on your skin. Lack of ventilation and the continuous breathing of hot air into the mask creates a humid micro-climate that can cause new skin concerns to develop. This hot, humid environment creates prime conditions for clogged pores to occur, especially when sweat, dirt and oil become trapped under the mask. Over time, these clogged pores can lead to other forms of maskne like imperfections and blemishes.


What are the Different Types of Maskne?

Whether your skin is dry, oily or somewhere in between, wearing a face mask has likely had an impact on your skin. Some of the most common skin concerns caused by masks are:

Damaged Skin Barrier
Continuous friction and pressure from your face mask can cause irritation especially in areas like the top of the nose, chin and cheeks. This constant rubbing, along with the other stresses of wearing a mask, can damage the  skin barrier, making it more susceptible to other forms of irritation.

Clogged & Enlarged Pores
The warm environment within the mask can cause pores to enlarge, especially on the nose, cheeks and chin. When dirt or oil is trapped under the mask, these pores can also become clogged or blocked, causing them to look even more enlarged. Clogged pores can lead to other skin concerns like blackheads, whiteheads and breakouts.

Dry & Dehydrated Skin
The unique micro-climate underneath a mask can cause skin’s natural moisture to evaporate. When this occurs, skin can feel extra dry and may even become cracked or uncomfortable in patches underneath the mask. Dehydrated skin may even produce excess oil which can lead to clogged pores and breakouts.

Visible Redness
As skin is irritated by heat, humidity and lack of ventilation, it can look and feel uncomfortable. Friction from the areas where the mask has direct contact to the skin can also result in visible redness and discomfort.

Stay Hydrated
Keeping skin balanced and moisturized is an effective way to help prevent dull skin related to decreased moisture. Apply a moisturizer morning and night and add a hydrating serum to help plump and smooth dry or dehydrated skin. Drinking plenty of water is also important to help boost your body’s overall hydration levels.


How Do Different Types of Masks Affect Your Skin?

All face masks will impact your skin but some create more of a greenhouse effect than others. In addition to your lifestyle and environment, take your skin into consideration when finding the right protection for you.

These types of masks form a tight seal on the skin, creating a more intense greenhouse effect and forming more pressure marks than other types of masks. To help protect your skin while you are wearing an N95 or similar mask, apply a barrier or cica-cream to help reduce friction between your mask and your skin.

Disposable Masks
Disposable, synthetic masks also create a greenhouse effect but—as they do not create a seal around the skin—they are also more likely to let in debris that can become trapped on skin’s surface. If you need to wear a mask for long periods of time, disposable masks can be a good option. Change these masks every few hours or whenever your skin feels moist or oily.

Fabric Masks
Masks made of cotton or other fabrics tend to absorb or wick away moisture from skin’s surface and create less of a greenhouse effect. If you need a mask for short-term wear or plan to be active, these masks can be the best choice.



Adapting your skincare routine to fit the new normal of mask-wearing can help keep your skin balanced and healthy-looking. Follow these tips to help prevent maskne and other mask-related skin concerns from forming.


Tip #1: Change Your Mask Frequently

Keep masks clean and always use a fresh one. If you wear one throughout the day, have several on hand to switch out and clean your masks with hot, soapy water after every use. Cleansing skin in between masks can also help prevent maskne. Sweep on a facial toner or miceller water in between masks to refresh skin on the go.


Tip #2: Deeply Cleanse Skin

Applying a mask over freshly cleansed skin helps prevent dirt and oil from getting trapped underneath. After removing your mask at the end of the day, cleanse away any buildup of sweat, dirt, makeup and oil with a deep cleansing face wash.


Tip #3: Look for Soothing Skincare Ingredients

With the extra stress of wearing a daily face mask, it may not be the time to adjust your skincare routine or try a potent new serum. Instead, look for gentle formulas with ingredients known to soothe skin like Centella Asiatica and Calendula.


Tip #4: Strengthen Skin to Resist Stress

Stronger skin is better able to resist the effects of masks and other skin aggressors. Adding a skin-strengthening serum can help skin be better able to protect itself underneath your mask.


Tip #5: Don’t Skip Your Moisturizer!

While it may be a good time to simplify your skincare routine, keeping skin moisturized is a must. In addition to helping maintain the skin barrier, your moisturizer can even act as a physical barrier between your skin and your mask to help minimize the effects of any rubbing or friction. Apply a daily hydrating moisturizer to help skin feel balanced and comfortable underneath your mask.


Tip #6: Switch to Lightweight Hydration

If you are finding that your current moisturizer feels a little heavier on your skin, try a lightweight or oil-free gel moisturizer to keep skin feeling fresh and hydrated.


Tip #7: Try Not to Touch Your Face

Touching your face frequently with unclean hands is never a good idea, but with the additional stress of wearing a mask, it is more important to avoid than ever. Apply your mask with minimal contact and take care when adjusting it. Make sure that your mask stays in place and fits you comfortably, covering the nose and mouth. If you have a mask that has stretched out, it is time to replace it with one that fits properly.


Tip #8: Treat Skin to a Detox

To combat excess oil, clogged pores and help prevent maskne, apply a purifying clay face mask several times a week. You can also use it as a spot treatment on problem areas or apply it to the lower part of your face, where skin is most affected by your mask.


Tip #9: Target Blemishes

If you experience breakouts underneath or around your mask, apply a spot treatment with Sulfur to treat acne blemishes.


Tip #10: Comfort and Repair Problem Areas

Apply a comforting balm or cica-cream to help repair the areas most affected by your mask like your nose, chin, and even behind your ears! Give these areas a little extra care after taking your mask off or apply a small amount underneath the mask to provide a barrier against friction.


Tip #11: Treat Post-Maskne Marks

After a maskne breakout, you may be left with dark spots hyperpigmentation. Apply a dark spot corrector to visibly fade discoloration for overall skin clarity.


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