Combatting Face Mask Acne “Maskne”

Updated: May 13, 2021

The “Maskne” struggle is real but there are ways to fight it!

If you have felt personally victimized by 2020, don’t worry—you’re not alone. There is no question that this year has taken a physical, mental and emotional toll on our society and the world as a whole. Changes in daily routines, diet, stress, exercise, as well as a more sedentary lifestyle from staying at home due to the pandemic, have all culminated in reported increases in adult acne that ranges in severity. Furthermore, the regular use of face masks, while necessary in preventing the spread of COVID-19, has also been associated with increases in facial acne, also known as “maskne.”

Since the use of face masks will likely be a part of our everyday look for the indefinite future, it’s important to know the facts about face mask acne and more importantly, how to tackle this type of breakout head on. Keep reading on for tips on treating maskne and preventing this pimple peril from invading your pretty skin.


Since you have to breathe through your face mask, it inadvertently creates the damp and humid conditions that are optimal for accumulating oils, dirt and makeup on your skin and trapping them under your mask. As a result, you’re left with unwanted bacteria that helps clog pores and can ultimately lead to a bout of maskne. Likewise, the friction caused by having a mask on your face for extended periods of time can irritate hair follicles, leaving them red and inflamed.


Since maskne, and acne in general, is a consequence of bacteria and clogged pores, using products with beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) to help clean out your pores by removing dead skin cells and kill acne-causing bacteria. Salicylic acid is perhaps the most commonly known BHA and is an active ingredient in many skin care and cosmetic products. Also, be sure to seek out moisturizers that say noncomedogenic, meaning they don’t clog pores, or that are oil-free—which most times are not mutually exclusive. Your face is already producing more oils under your mask than usual so oil-free moisturizers can be effective in combatting that issue directly.

DO I NEED TO WASH MY FACE MORE OFTEN? That really depends on how often you were washing your face in the first place. Generally speaking, you should be washing your face at least twice daily, moisturizing daily and exfoliating at least 2-3 times a week. Regardless of the current need for face masks, your skin care regimen should always include cleansing, double cleansing [insert link with double cleanse blog], exfoliating and moisturizing. Each step of this process serves a different purpose for your face and helps maintain a baseline for your skin under any conditions.

  • Cleansing removes oil, makeup and pollution from the day

  • Double cleansing cleans your skin after you’ve removed the daily skin stressors mentioned above

  • Exfoliating helps remove any lingering dead skin cells and further open up clogged pores (this is the only step that doesn’t need to be done daily)

  • Moisturizing helps restore hydration in your skin and restore the skin barrier to keep it healthy