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While the general public may have been introduced to maskne for the first time during COVID, it’s a well-known pest to certain industries. “It has always been an issue in professions where you have to wear a mask regularly,” says our resident dermatologist. “But now that the general public has to wear masks, the incidence of it has certainly increased.” Stress from the pandemic, as well as the local irritation from your mask, can make maskne more likely.

Here, we’ll take a look at what causes maskne and what you can do to treat and prevent it.

The science behind maskne

When you breathe or talk, your mask tends to trap in a lot of hot air. Besides being annoying, this air creates a warm, humid environment— an ideal setting for yeast, bacteria, and other flora, such as Demodex (types of skin mites that naturally live on our skin), to grow. These bacterial imbalances and friction from your mask can promote acne and Rosacea flare-ups as well as something called Perioral dermatitis. This is when fine pimples and pustules appear around the nose and mouth.

Maskne Causes

Before we discuss treating maskne, it’s important to know what you may be able to do to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Makeup, lotions, and sunscreen

You might assume that wearing products like makeup, lotion, and sunscreen under your mask might cause maskne, but that’s not always the case. Lotion, topical treatments, and sunscreen can help calm and balance our normal skin flora. “A layer of moisturizer (lighter if you are oily or acne prone and thicker if you have sensitive or eczema-prone skin) or even a sunblock that contains zinc or titanium can help your skin by serving as a barrier against any friction or irritation that develops,” notes our resident dermatologist. Thick layers of lotion or sunscreen on the face can aggravate breakouts with or without a mask, but occur more easily when wearing one.


When it comes to maskne and makeup, don’t worry. You won’t have to return your latest beauty haul. Makeup is fine as long as you’re not heavy-handed with application. “Under our normal masks, it’s acceptable to wear a light layer of makeup. If you are wearing an N-95 mask that will be recycled, makeup stains may limit the ability to reuse it or fully clean it. In this case, you should avoid wearing makeup.”

Facial hair

Facial hair can present a problem with mask acne depending on the fit of the mask, the warm air that gets trapped under it, as well as moisture from sweat.

If you have to wear your mask for a long period of time without washing your face, we suggest using a simple toner with alpha hydroxy acid or even witch hazel to freshen your skin and prevent issues. Just make sure you allow your skin and beard to fully dry before putting your mask back on. Our GLOBAL NOURISH 99% Natural Cucumber Watermelon Brightening Spritz Toner contains witch hazel and is 99% natural.

Certain types of masks

While lightweight fabrics may be better for your skin, they don’t quite offer the level of protection needed to block out COVID-19. Lighter fabrics that are cooler and more breathable often aren’t as effective at filtering the virus. Tight weave fabrics and masks with several layers are the best protection. Some fabrics are softer and more flexible so they may be more comfortable. Washing your mask before wearing to remove any finishes on the fabric can help reduce the possibility of irritation as well.

How to treat maskne

While maskne is a frustrating part of pandemic living, there are ways to treat and prevent it.

Keep your mask clean

Changing your mask frequently can help reduce irritation, especially after sweating or exercising. After each use, wash your mask with a fragrance-free detergent and rinse it twice before putting it in the dryer. Not only does washing your masks help make them more tolerable to wear, but this process is also very important for infection control.

The best products for maskne

When it comes to maskne and makeup, don’t worry. You won’t have to return your A good foaming cleanser will help keep your skin clean and calm. If your skin is more acne-prone, we recommend looking for something with salicylic acid. Thanks to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, some research suggests that witch hazel may be useful in the treatment of acne.

The GLOBAL NOURISH 99% Natural Cucumber Watermelon Brightening Spritz Toner is infused with witch hazel, brightening watermelon, and anti-inflammatory cucumber.

Wrapping up

While maskne can be aggravating, ditching your mask is not an option. Fortunately, there are tips and products out there that can make mask acne more bearable.

*While we consult with dermatologists and medical professionals, this is not medical advice. Please consult your primary care doctor for expert care of your health.

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