two people wearing cardboard masks

Skincare While Wearing a Mask

Skincare While Wearing a Mask

There is no better time to address the dreaded issue of "maskne" (acne caused by mask wearing), than the one day of the year we normally enjoy wearing a mask when it's not a pandemic, Halloween!!! 

So of course, as your skin and acne expert, I have all the details on the main causes of maskne, and what we can do to help fix and prevent it from happening.  Let's look further...

Causes of "maskne"

mona lisa with mask

Now days, even people who don't normally break out are finding that they are getting pesky bumps around their mouth, jawline or cheeks, and even worse for acne prone people who are fighting an already uphill battle into keeping their skin clear.

The main cause of maskne is due to something called "acne mechanica".  This is a type of acne caused by friction and pressure on the skin.  It can be aggravated by bacteria and sweat too but is mainly the pores having an inflammatory reaction to material rubbing against the skin. 

Athletes and active people may often see this on their bodies too for example, if they don't change out of gym clothes fast enough after working out, or even just from wearing tight leggings or stretchy tops on acne prone bums and backs.  And wearing hats or helmets frequently can cause it to happen too.

How do we prevent it?

  • Keep a clean mask: ALWAYS wear a clean mask.  If it's reusable, make sure you always have a fresh one that is washed and dried before wearing.  If it's disposable, make sure you're wearing a new one EVERY time you wear it.  Think of it as going to bed with unwashed skin, as that is basically what it is.  You're reapplying bacteria, dead skin cells, oils and pollution particles from it's last use if it's not clean.
  • Keep a healthy skin barrier:  A healthy skin moisture barrier is your skin's first line of defense against irritation.  If your skin is dehydrated or stripped, it will be more likely to have a defensive reaction against rubbing.  The best way to have a healthy barrier is to use the right cleanser and moisturizer for your skin type.  If you're unsure of what to use, you can take my expert designed quiz here to see which barrier restoring Meta Skincare moisturizer would be best for you.
Woman washing her hands
  • Create an extra barrier:  Even with a healthy skin barrier, some skin types may STILL have issues.  Especially if undergoing cosmetic services like chemical peels, microneedeling or acne clearing treatments, skin can be a bit dehydrated.  Weather changes can also disrupt a normally healthy barrier causing dryness and irritation.  In this case, petroleum jelly products like Vaseline and Aquaphor are ideal to create a temporary barrier between your skin and the mask.  You can click back to my blog post here all about Vaseline's extensive benefits for the skin including acne prone types.  Just apply a thin layer as a final skin care step before applying the mask.  This has been a godsend for essential employees who have to wear their masks all day.
  • Check your material:  Now that there are so many masks available on the market, some people are finding that certain materials cause less abrasive rubbing, leading to less maskne.  For example many silk or satin masks have come out which are very light, and smooth on the skin.  If you've ever bleached your hair, you may have heard about sleeping with satin or silk pillowcases to keep it healthier and have less breakage.  Well the same will apply to the skin with daily mask wearing.  100% Cotton is soft and beneficial too.  ***I'm seeing lots of silver particle masks coming out, and silver is in general anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, but i have yet to actually try any of those particular masks so I can't at this time give a personal recommendation on them, but they may be worth a try.

Other helpful products

Any products that are both soothing and clarifying can be beneficial as well.  My Clear Age Sets are perfect for mask wearing, as the Rosewater Soothing Mist and Clear Age Soothing Moisturizer will both sooth and protect the skin's barrier, while the Pumpkin Smoothing Wash and L-mandelic acid will work to clear existing bumps.  The Clear Age Dew Drops in the set will both soothe and clear.  

If you have any more questions about acne mechanica, maskne or skincare to help with it, feel free to contact me!

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Thank you for this post! Since the pandemic I see many of my family, friends and myself struggling with skin issues. Only in the general mask area. I tried to use different types of masks, disposable and even washing the mask consistently. I never would have thought it could be due to the lack of moisture. I assumed my breath would be moisture enough and figured I should not put anything on my face as it would cause it to be worst. However, this makes sense I will try it and give feedback on if it worked out for me.

Thanks again,
Marjie A.


Thank you for this post! I was wondering what to do since masks are really destroying the bottom of my face. I have spoken to many family and friends who are all having the same issue. I have heard everything from keep your mask washed weekly to buy only disposables and do not wear them more than one time. I tried both those however I never put any moisture on my face anymore because I think it will dry out with all the moisture my breath is creating. I have thought of the material being the issue as well so I will try this and update you on the results.

Thanks again,


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