Get Rid of Mask Acne AKA Maskne

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Why is My Face Mask Causing Acne?

Acne is an age old problem. It’s taken on new meaning thanks to social distancing and masks. If you spend extended periods of time with a face mask, you have the perfect recipe for “Macne” or “Maskne”. Here’s all you need to know to keep your face from breaking out from mask coverings:

What Causes Maskne / Macne? 

Before we get to Maskne, let’s take a look at what causes acne in general. It happens as the result of a cascading effect on the skin. First, the sebaceous glands on the face start pumping out oil at a rate that the body can’t process. Next, the skin cells along the hair follicle alter. This combination is what clogs pores, as well as traps bacteria and debris. When this happens, it leads to inflammation and redness. And, finally, it develops into full-blown acne — in the form of pustules, pimples, whiteheads and/or blackheads.

Why Do You Get Acne from Wearing a Mask? 

The process described above can get kicked into overdrive by masks. When a mask is worn properly, it creates a seal. This is where a bit of a catch-22 comes into play. The good news first: by keeping the germs in, you’re protecting you and those around you from disease, particularly, coronavirus or COVID-19. The bad news? By keeping the germs in, your skin takes an extra hit. Basically, the excess oil, sweat, dirt, debris and bacteria get trapped on the face. 

Additionally, the seal of the mask increases temperature and humidity on the face. This fact coupled with friction can compromise the skin’s natural moisture barrier. 

All of these things work together to break down the structure of the skin, cause irritation and swelling, as well as encouraging breakouts.

How Should I Pick a Mask to Protect My Skin?

There is no tried and true answer to this question. Each type of mask has its own benefits and drawbacks. Basically, we recommend taking the following points into consideration, as well as using a bit of trial and error to figure out what’s best for you:

Surgical Mask

Surgical masks have the benefit of being light-weight and more breathable. However, their rough texture can cause physical irritation. Additionally, surgical masks can be chemically treated, which can cause irritation to the skin. 

Fabric Mask or Face Covering

Fabric masks or face coverings have the advantage of being softer in texture. However, they tend to be heavier, which can cause additional heat to trap on the face. Additionally, residue from laundry products can lead to clogged pores.

How Can I Stop Acne from Mask Wearing?

Before putting on your mask:

  1. Prep your skin by starting with a clean base. Gently wash your face with a cleanser designed for acneic skin.
  2. Apply a thin layer of calming serum.
  3. Apply a drying lotion to any blemishes.
  4. Apply a moisturizer designed for acneic skin, which will protect the skin, as well as strengthen the skin’s natural barrier.
  5. Skip makeup and/or sunscreen on a covered face, because it can clog pores. However, just make sure you are still liberally applying a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on exposed areas of the skin.

After taking off your mask:

  1. Throw away a surgical mask after one use or spray it with alcohol. Or launder a cloth mask with fragrance-free detergent after each use.
  2. Make sure you allow your mask to dry completely before reuse.
  3. Gently wash your face with a cleanser designed for acneic skin.

How Should I Get Rid of Acne Caused by Masks? What Mask Acne Treatment Works Best?

The same protocols and treatments that are effective for acne will work for Macne. Specifically, products with salicylic acid and retinol are indicated for treating acne. It’a advised to steer clear of products with fragrance and harsh chemicals, which can irritate the skin.  It’s also advised to avoid ingredients that are extremely comedogenic, e.g. clog pores, including:

  1. Oils / Coconut oil
  2. Essential oils
  3. Cocoa butter

Additionally, you can use the following topical skincare regime:

Twice a day (in the morning and before bed):

  1. Gently cleanse the skin.
  2. Apply a calming serum.
  3. Apply a drying lotion to any blemishes.

Once a day (before bed):

  1. Apply a retinoid BEFORE the drying lotion (e.g. make it step #3 in the routine described above).

About Nicole Contos Signature Skincare Line

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Nicole Contos has an understanding of every skincare need that is unparalleled in the industry. Her signature skincare line is the result of 18 years experience with clients as founder of Smooth Synergy, one of NYC’s first medical spas.

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Medical grade and pH-balanced ingredients achieve results on a cellular level that are unmatched by over-the-counter formulations.


Streamlines the skincare regimen for today’s on-the-go client. A cocktail of products can be blended in the hand and applied in a single layer to the face.

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