How To Prevent and Treat Maskne

At this point in the year I feel like I should begin each post with a sentiment regarding how surreal it feels to be writing about some of the things we are dealing with. I’m going to skip all that and just dive right into a topic that most of us are all too familiar with, how to prevent and treat maskne (or mascne). That’s right, maskne is acne caused from wearing your face mask.

Early on in my mask-wearing journey, I noticed that I was breakout out where they mask would rub against my chin and on the sides of my mouth. In this post I’m going to share everything I have learned about maskne and how I try to prevent it and treat it when it does happen. Hopefully it will help you out. This is new to all of us so, as always, please offer any insight you might have in the comments section!

What to use to prevent and treat maskne

What Causes Maskne?

From what I can gather, maskne is caused by one of a few things. Wearing a face mask can trap dirt, oil and sweat on your face. The humidity of summer and wearing a mask as you breathe can also trigger your pores to produce even more oil. Pair that with the friction that is caused from the mask rubbing your skin and bacteria from your mouth and you basically have a petri dish for acne to grow.

Tips to Help Prevent Maskne

Keep Your Masks Clean

A clean mask is the key to preventing acne. Wash your mask regularly with hypoallergenic detergent in hot water. Then make sure to store your mask somewhere sanitary. When using your mask, make sure to wash hands, don’t touch inside the mask. I have a pack of these Athleta masks and clean them every day. For more mask cleaning tips, GoCleanCo did a series of Instagram stories on mask washing, and here are the official CDC recommendations for mask washing.

Athleta Masks

Line Your Mask

I started using the White Rabbit Cloths from Amazon to line the inside my mask. Yes it’s single-use but, these small cloths fit perfectly inside my face mask. These cloths prevent a good barrier and they’re good for your skin. I think this tip has been the game changer in preventing more maskne.

White Rabbit Cleansing Cloths

Use a Chemical Exfoliant

Chemical exfoliants get rid of all those nasty dead skin cells on the skin’s surface and help prevent acne. Retinol or retin-A helps trigger your skin cells to turn over and bring new cells to the surface. You can read more about my friend Jordan Harper’s tips regarding retin-A and get her Barefoot Pads. If those are sold out I recommend Paulas Choice or the M-61 pads.

Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant is a chemical exfoliant to help prevent acne

Use a Moisturizer

If you aren’t adding moisture back into your skin then it could actually trigger your skin to produce oil. I love Elta md, Elemis or Obagi Hydrate as a great gentle moisturizer. For a drugstore version you could use Cetaphil daily hydrating lotion or a hyaluronic acid serum like this one from Skinceuticals. Look for moisturizers with ceramids and hyaluronic acid because they will sooth, and strengthen your skin barrier. I was wrong many years ago, but moisturizing is one of the best ways to prevent acne.

Make sure to moisturize to prevent maskne with a moisturizer like Elemis.

Wear a Tinted Moisturizer or CC Cream

Skip the heavy foundation or oil-based products and wear a tinted moisturizer or cc cream. I love this cc cream by Charlotte Tilbury and this one by itcosmetics. A primer is also a great step before adding coverage. Try this one from Hourglass, this one from Becca or this one from Tula.

itcosmetics CC Cream.

Create a Physical Barrier for your Skin

If your skin is getting chapped, layer on a hydrating balm. Good ones I have found in a quick search include Glo Skin Beauty Barrier Balm. It helps to sooth irritation that can lead to breakouts and keep bacteria from spreading.

Control Your Bad Breath

Did you know some of the bacteria that leads to acne under your mask is actually from your mouth? Terrifying I know. Prevent maskne by using a tongue scraper like this one on Amazon, make sure you floss and regularly use listerine to eliminate bacteria. You can also chew ice breakers cube gum because it contains xylitol, which is apparently the only sugar that kills germs.

How to Treat Maskne

Sometimes no matter how hard you work to prevent maskne, it may still happen.

Spot Treat Maskne

To treat the maskne spots I’ve had on my chin and cheeks, I spot treat with Beauty Counter SOS Acne Spot Treatment.

BeautyCounter SOS Spot treatment to treat maskne

You could also consider an acne patch like Peace Out Acne to treat your pimples and protect them from spreading more bacteria inside your mask.

Double Cleanse

Best thing you can do to treat maskne or any acne is to double cleanse. You want to remove all the makeup with the first cleanser and then use the second cleanser to really clean your face. If you have oily skin opt for a foaming cleanser, if you have dry skin, go for a creamy cleanser.

I use Bioderma or Garnier to remove makeup, then a cleanser (Revision, Tula, Obaji) and then go over face with micellar water or a toner (I like Skii) to make sure your face is extra clean. Using Foreo cleansing brush can help to get your face extra clean.

If you’re really struggling, the Obagi Medical CLENZIderm helped treat my cystic acne.

Make Sure You Treat with a Mask

You know, the circa 2019 version of a mask, a face mask from a bottle that soothes your skin or cleanses impurities. For detoxing your skin try this one, this one, this one or this one! For soothing you can use a mask and then slather on a face oil like the one I love from BeautyCounter. Here is the link to another great mask that I found and I also really love this mask for calming my skin.