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Learn How To Prevent Maskne With These 6 Crucial Steps

by Katie Muirhead

Jun 14, 2021

While "face mask" may have once conjured scenes of a relaxing bubble bath, jazz and an evening of self-care, it now evokes something a little less sexy... PPE. And while masks are both an accesible and effective tool in the fight against this pandemic, they bring with them the less-than-ideal risk of maskne.

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Over the last year it is likely you've witnessed changes in your skin - stress, altered routines and masks have been the triggers for many-a-pimple. And while this is totally normal, it can still be highly frustrating.

If masks have you feeling betrayed by your skin, here are our top tips to soothe and minimize the irritation caused by your newest daily accessory:

1. Wash That Mask!

In the same way that it is advised to switch out pillowcases regularly to avoid acne, so too should you only wear clean face masks. This may mean tossing that disposable mask after every wear, though a more sustainable option is to use (and frequently wash!) cloth masks. By changing them up you are avoiding the distribution of bacteria, dirt and oils to your face throughout the day.

Soft cotton or silk masks have the advantage of being more gentle on the skin - just make sure to use a fragrance-free detergent to avoid any sensitivity.

2. Try A Calming Spray

Face masks bring with them the risk of irritation, and this stress can be what triggers an inflammatory response in your skin... aka maskne. To mitigate this irritation, soothing face sprays are an easy and portable way to calm the skin barrier thorughout the day. Spray them liberally when you are able to safely take off your mask (when eating or sitting outside), and make sure they are fully dry before putting your mask back on. Bonus points if you have a fresh mask at the ready!

Here are some great facial sprays to keep on you throughout the day:

Formulated to fight redness and irritation, this simple spray uses hypochlorous acid to defend against everyday skin stressors. This soothing ingredient is found naturally in the skin and supports your skin's natural defences, helping it stay calm and avoid breaking out.

Our skin has a delicate microbiome - thousands of tiny organisms that work in harmony to keep our skin balanced, defended, and healthy. Acne can be a result of a compromised microbiome, and masks can throw off this balance.

This soothing spray helps to support our skin's good bacteria and nurture their environment, mitigating the risk of a breakout. Spritz it on throughout the day, or spray it on freshly cleansed skin to introduce some probiotics before your moisturizer.

3. Don't Forget To Moisturize

A simple-yet-crucial part of skin health is keeping it moisturized. Face masks can create irritating friction, so it is even more important to have a soft, hydrated starting point. Here are our top picks for cruelty-free moisturizers that will prep your skin and help protect against acne-causing irritation:

This lightweight moisturizer is a great option for irritated, acne-prone skin. The combination of magnesium, turmeric, and cica work to reduce irritation caused by face masks, and ultimately prevent against breakouts. Use it morning and night, and make sure to let it fully sink in before wearing your mask.

This rich formula is targeted towards the signs of ageing, and has the added bonus of supporting a healthy and nourished skin barrier. Hyaluronic acids and peptides work to plump the skin and help it defend against daily stress from mask wear. Use it as a night cream to soothe tired skin, or if your skin can handle it as a rich, luxurious day cream.

A crowd favorite, this oil-free formula is a great option to cool and soothe the skin pre-mask. The gel texture of this water cream also delivers a burst of nutrients to the skin, and is perfect for all skin types. Hydrating and suitable for even sensitive skin, this moisture-packed formula will support your skin against that pesky mask.

4. Keep It Clean

Acne is primarily caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the skin. While this can be excacerbated by irritation or dryness, making sure that pollutants such as dirt and makeup are removed from the skin is crucial. We touch our masks constantly and they capture both our breathe and our skin's oils, making them a vehicle for bacteria.

Here are some of our favorite cruelty-free cleansers to clear your skin of acne-causing bacteria and pollutants at the end of each day:

This affordable and effective cleanser is perfect for even the most sensitive skin, and will make sure your skin never feels stripped. The gentle creamy formula contains a blend of argan extract, peony extract and sunflower amino acids to hydrate and soothe.

Massage the rich formula onto wet skin to thoroughly wash away all remnants of the day. If your skin is overly sensitive, try cutting down to only cleansing at night.

This gentle cleansing balm transforms into a creamy milk when combined with water, leaving skin cleansed but not stripped. Organic baobab oil is used to soothe and hydrate the skin, and is an excellent ingredient to dissolve impurities on the skin.

Use this cleanser on its own, or as a gentle first step in your evening double-cleanse routine.

For skin that is breaking out, this cleanser delivers a dose of AHA/BHAs to gently exfoliate and target the acne-causing bacteria. The foaming gel formula promises not to strip your skin, but rather target breakouts at the source without disrupting your skin's pH.

When introducing active ingredients like alpha-hydroxy or beta-hydroxy acids, it is best to use them sparingly at first to test your skin's tolerance. Try for a few times a week, and if your skin responds well, work up to daily use.

5. Avoid The Makeup

While it can be hard to steer clear of compleion products (especially when breaking out!), they can mix with your natural oils under the face mask and excacerbate any breakouts.

Try sticking to only brow and eye products, but if you really can't resist here are some foundation-adjacent products to help you get the look:

This wildly popular skin tint is barely a foundation, rather a sheer, natural hybrid of skincare and pigment. The added SPF makes it a great product to help defend your skin from irritation (the sun is a stressor, too!), and the blendable formula can be applied more heavily to areas of the face that aren't covered by your mask.

Supergoop CC Screen 100% Mineral CC Cream SPF 50

This sunscreen-turned-color-corrector will add a touch of tint to help you feel more confident, while helping protect your skin from the sun. The mineral formula is suitable for even sensitive skin, and may add an extra layer of friction protection between your skin and the acne-causing mask.

6. Treat Those Spots

This cult favorite product uses salicylic acid to unclog pores and prevent spots. The leave-on formula is gentle enough for daily use, but will help shed dead skin cells that can combine with oil and bacteria on the skin.

Like any new active ingredient, introduce it slowly and stay on the lookout for irritation. Application can be tailored to your whole face, or just the areas that you are experiencing breakouts.

This targetted treatment pen will help clear spots on the go. 5% benzoyl peroxide targets acne-causing bacteria, and will help shrink and dry out those stubborn pimples. Apply up to three times a day on any current breakouts or cystic patches that you can feel forming. But be careful - benzoyl peroxide can be drying, so don't forget to moisturize!

While maskne is just part of our new normal, it doesn't have to rule your skin. Use these tips to keep the breakouts at bay, and remember that you are not alone in the fight against pimples!

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