Mask acne is the latest thing to throw a monkey wrench in life thanks to COVID.  Since I’ve re-opened, I’ve heard from countless clients that they are noticing breakouts, skin irritation and more in and around the areas of their face where masks sit.  So, let’s talk about what’s going on here and how we’re going to address it. 

What is mask acne? 

Mask acne is exactly what it sounds like, acne caused by wearing a face mask.  Some people are experiencing actual breakouts like traditional acne.  Others are experiencing red, irritated skin patches.  For the lucky ones [in my sarcastic voice] they are getting a little bit of both!  

What’s causing this? 

For one, the condensation from breathing in and out is being trapped inside the mask.   This in and of itself is allowing bacteria to settle on the skin.  In this case, breakouts aren’t being caused from anything going on under the skin but bacteria on top of the skin.  On top of that, there are few other things causing mask acne and skin irritation.   

  • Fit – If you’re wearing a very form fitting mask, like an N95, for an extended period of time, the tight fit could be adding to your issues.   
  • Material – If your mask is made from a less breathable material, or a harsh material, this could lead to irritation. 
  • Makeup – Yes, makeup could be part of the problem.  If you’re wearing makeup under your mask, the bacteria that’s floating around along with the makeup you’re wearing could be clogging your pores.  
  • Usage – If you’ve got a washable mask, but you’re wearing it over and over without washing it, you’re essentially spreading the same bacteria on your face with each wear.  If you’ve got a disposable mask that you’re wearing over and over, the same thing is happening.  
  • Detergent – And finally, if you are washing your mask regularly, think about the detergent you’re using.  Products with fragrance could be too harsh for your facial skin and be adding to your breakouts.   

How to Prevent Mask Acne 

The best way to prevent mask acne is to not wear a mask, right?  WRONG!  Please wear your masks and stay safe.  We don’t want another shutdown.  Instead, let’s focus on what we can do together to prevent your mask from causing breakouts and irritation.   

Here’s 5 things you can do. 

  1. Keep up with your routine.
    Wash your face morning and night, maybe even more. See #2. 
  2. Wash after prolonged use. 
    If you are out and have your mask on for a while, consider washing your face when you get home even if it is outside of your normal morning and night routine.  This will help clear away any bacteria that has settled on your skin and not give it the opportunity to clog your pores!  
  3. Don’t wear makeup.
    If you know you’re going to be under a mask, consider not wearing makeup.   
  4. Do the proper mask maintenance. 
    In other words, wash your washables, and toss your tossables! 
  5. Adjust your products.  
    If you’re struggling with mask acne, it might also be a good idea to look at your products and add in some new things to help! 

Products to Use 

As I said above, you need to be cleansing regularly and it’s also a good idea to consider adding some new products to your regime that will specifically work to repair AND prevent future issues.  Here’s what I’m thinking… 

  • Le Mieux Beta Acid-  Beta acid is a salicylic acid base that will help remove bacteria. 
  • LMieux Derma Relief Serum – This product can be put on after your cleansing routine to help create a barrier on the skin to protect it.  
  • Skin Script Retinol Scrub – A scrub with 2% retinol and jojoba beads will help scrub away dead skin cells to avoid pore clogging.  Then, the retinol will get in the skin to help with cell turnover to fight aging, breakouts, and help with balancing the skin. 

If you aren’t sure what products would be helpful, contact me!  I’m happy to discuss over the phone or with a virtual consult.  If you’re coming in for an appointment, we can also talk then!