Maskne. How to fight breakouts caused by wearing a mask.


Maskne. How to fight breakouts caused by wearing a mask.

So you’ve got your mask, whether it’s homemade, or you’re wearing a surgical mask, either way, one thing you’ve probably noticed is the addition of a few red little friends popping up on your chin and mouth area.  This my friend, is “maskne”. And if it makes you feel better, even us estheticians are getting it too! I’m dishing out why you’re getting acne on your face, and what you can do about it.

Maskne isn’t anything new, just ask any health care worker who has always had to wear masks for the duration of their shifts, even pre COVID. But since a lot more of us are sporting our masks on the daily now, there’s a LOT more people trying to figure out their new skin concern.


“The clinical term for maskne is “acne mechanic” and it is caused by friction, rubbing, and occlusion of the skin by outside forces,” according to dermatologists.

Friction and irritation from the mask on your face can push any bacteria deeper into the skin, creating micro tears, which in turn, allows access for more dirt and oil to enter. This then causes inflammation, and so begins the acne cycle.

You’ll probably notice these breakouts wherever your mask sits. The bridge of your nose, your chin, around your mouth, and possibly your cheeks if you have larger pores there. If you already have underlying skin conditions such as rosacea, this can cause more of a sensitivity break out, looking almost rash like.


Since wearing masks isn’t going to go away any time soon, especially for those who work in personal service settings, we need to figure out how to combat acne caused by masks. Luckily there are a few simple things you can do to stop the cycle of this maskne.

Wash your face before and after wearing a face mask.

This seems obvious, but there really is no room for “skipping” your face routine when you’re wearing masks on the regular.  You need to wash your face in the morning so your mask is not trapping dirt and oil underneath it during the day. Depending on your skin, using a gentle, yet effective cleanser is best. Some cleansers that we love are the Is Clinical Cleansing Complex, as it has salicylic acid in it to gently exfoliate your skin, plus it’s a soap free, deep cleansing gel, leaving you feeling clean and smooth, yet not tight and dry.

If you wear makeup during the day, or have oily skin, we suggest adding Dermalogica Pre Cleansing Oil to your routine, as this is an oil based cleanser, which actually attracts oil, (that’s a whole other education post!).

Pro Tip: You need to double cleanse your skin at the end of your work day after wearing your mask. One cleanse will not cut it. The first cleanse will only clean the surface dirt and oil. Cleansing the second time will clean out the dirt deep in your pores. You only need to do this once per day, when your skin is at it’s dirtiest. (The end of the day) In the morning, since you did your skin routine the night before, you should only need to cleanse your skin once. 

Use  A Chemical Exfoliant / And Or Some Benzoyl Peroxide

The other trick here is to gently exfoliate the area so dirt and oil don’t get trapped under dead skin cells.  But please be wary of harsh scrubs. (Do not use St Ives. If you do, please read this blog here, then call me for a free consult.) We love the Daily MicroFoliant from Dermalogica, or the Active Serum from Is Clinical for the pharmaceutical, botanical based powerful stuff!

The other tip if you are experiencing pimples and pustules, is to use benzoyl peroxide serums. The most effective, and affordable, home treatment I’ve found is Teen Spotless,  from Rodan and Fields. I have had a lot of success helping treat adult and teen acne with these Acne products. Since I’ve been wearing my mask at work for two months now, I’m using this benzoyl peroxide serum on my chin to help with my Maskne pimples. Traditionally you order this product online, but we have the acne products on our retail shelves because it works so well!

Moisturize Your Skin

Do NOT skip your moisturizer! Your skin needs protection from friction and irritation. The correct moisturizer will NOT clog your pores! If you don’t protect your skin with a moisturizer daily, it will become even more irritated and inflamed, causing your skin to break out more.  Quality ingredients will be key here so as not to be occlusive on your skin. If you’re not sure what to use, ask us for your complimetary skin consultation so we can help you!

Skip The Foundation

I have totally stopped wearing makeup since I now wear a mask all day at work. Going foundation free if you’re in your mask all day, will help prevent further breakouts. However, if you are still wanting some coverage, use a good quality mineral makeup like Jane Iredale.

SSPF And Your Mask

Heck to the YES you still need to wear your SPF. You will NEVER hear me tell you otherwise! Your mask won’t protect you from UVA and UVB rays. I suggest using a physical SPF as these are less irritating on your skin, and choose one that is right for your skin type: oily or dry. We LOVE the Tizo SPF line because they literally feel like silky magic on your skin. If you don’t LOVE how your SPF feels on your skin, you’re doing it wrong and you need to come try some TIZO. It will change your view on SPF – promise!

Wash Your Mask!

Your mask is D.I.R.T.Y. Like REALLY dirty. If you choose to wear a reusable mask, you need to wash this mask daily. Think of your mask like underwear. You would not wear underwear twice right? (YUK!) Your mask will gather a TON of bacteria throughout the day on the outside of it. Not to mention your own breath and sweat on the inside. Do yourself a favour and have 2 or 3 masks, so you don’t have to wash nightly, but do make sure you use a clean mask each day.


If you need help with your Maskne, or even just your skin care regime, call us @ 250 804 4836 for a complimentary consultation.If you know your skin needs some TLC and a deep clean, we suggest booking in for a clear skin facial or the Fire And Ice Peel to help deep clean and turn over those built up dead skin cells and clear our those pores.