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How to Clear Up (and Prevent) Maskne Breakouts

Healthcare workers on the frontline, mothers juggling careers, childcare, and homeschool, essential workers providing their communities with countless necessities… We all, in some way, have been impacted by the current state of our world amid this global pandemic. While wearing a face mask is the least we can do to protect ourselves and others from contracting and spreading this virus, we can all acknowledge that consistently donning one (some, due to their essential careers, more frequently than others, to which we say: thank you) hasn’t been the easiest adjustment, including for our skin.

In fact, we’ve had community members reach out seeking advice on how to deal with mask-triggered breakouts (hi, maskne!), irritation, and more. Read on for expert-backed advice on how to deal with some of the most common skin issues that have come up as a result of our face masks and again, thank you for wearing yours.


It’s very common to be noticing an uptick in acne around your chin, cheeks, and nose right now. So common, it's garnered its own nickname: Maskne. Because wearing a mask increases the temperature and humidity around your face, it’s easy for sweat and moisture to get trapped and clog your pores, leading to breakouts. While you may not be able to prevent this from happening, thoroughly cleaning your mask after every use will prevent the spread of bacteria that can worsen acne. Dr. Nancy Samolitis, MD board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of Facile Dermatology, says that cloth masks “should be washed in hot water after each use, but this won't prevent the occlusive effect that clogs pores and causes inflammation. "Cleaning the skin with a gentle cleanser or micellar water immediately after removing the mask is another good idea.” We suggest keeping Baby Cheeks Hydrating Milk in your bag or car so you can quickly and easily cleanse away dirt, bacteria, and sweat immediately after removing your mask, even if you don’t have access to a sink.
Another hot tip, inspired by Sandra Lee, MD (otherwise known as Dr. Pimple Popper), is to spray the inside of your mask with salicylic acid (you can use our Back-Up Plan Acne-Control Body Mist for this) before putting it on to prevent maskne from forming. 

Still, mask-triggered pimples and blackheads may decide to rear their heads anyway. Use a spot treatment with sulfur, like Game Over Acne Drying Treatment, to target specific unwanted visitors, and layer in a pore-clearing mask (we recommend Find Clarity, which uses charcoal and two types of clay to draw out impurities) 1-3 times a week.

Indentations and Bruising

For the nurses, doctors, and other essential workers that are wearing PPE for hours at a time, the aftermath of wearing a mask may be a bit more serious. Unfortunately, deep indentations and bruising can occur as a result of a mask having to be tightly secured to the face. “Protective barrier creams like zinc oxide paste and Aquaphor can be used to protect the skin from friction”, Samolitis advises. Cushioning the bridge of nose with bandids and wearing surgical masks with ties instead of elastic can prevent indentations and bruising as well. If not icing the area after mask removal or keeping your skincare cool in the fridge may provide some additional relief. 

Inflammation and Discoloration

Because face masks have the power to throw your skin’s protective barrier off-balance, dryness, irritation, and inflammatory conditions like rosacea, perioral dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis may occur more frequently. Besides paying a visit to your dermatologist, finding ways to restore your skin’s barrier can be beneficial. This includes moisturizing properly (Dew Point is a good option that won’t weigh down skin), wearing sunscreen daily, and getting a good night’s sleep.
If you notice post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and discoloration as a result of your mask, treat them the way you would treat other acne scars and dark spots. Exfoliate on a regular basis and use AHAs (found in our Weekend Glow Daily Brightening Solution) to even out skin tone.