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Mask-Acne: What’s Causing it and How to Treat it.

With the increased use of face coverings, there has been a surge in breakouts. Especially in those who constantly wear them for work. Let’s face it, mask wearing will be here for the foreseeable future. It's best to keep on top of breakouts before it gets out of hand. So what’s causing it and how do you treat it?

What’s causing it?

To cause acne you need 3 things; excess skin cells that block pores, overproduction of sebum and bacteria. It might seem straightforward but each aspect of wearing a mask impacts on one of these aspects.


Masks are meant to protect us by limiting the airflow from the outside environment to yourself and the reverse too. We have created a lovely warm and humid environment, that is loved by bacteria. Not to mention our bacteria-rich breath!


Sebum production is increased in hot conditions and is also influenced by the skin’s hydration and sweating. Sebum is meant to be protective, but too much is not a good thing.

Excess Skin Cells

As your skin cells shed throughout the day, they get trapped on the surface and add to the burden of clogging up your pores.

The friction caused by ill-fitting masks, break down the protective layer of the skin and leaves it more at risk. Studies have proven the effect of friction causing acne!

How to Treat Mask-acne

The following steps will help keep your mask-acne under control but if you are finding that you are struggling with your skin and it’s not mask related, have a look at my blog about why Lockdown is the perfect time to look after your skin.

Step Up your Skincare Routine

Cleanse twice a day and double cleanse at night. Also exfoliate up to 3 times a week. If you haven’t been exfoliating then start by exfoliating once a week.

Skip the Usual Makeup

The more products you wear under a mask, the easier it will cause a buildup and clog the pores. Who is going to see it anyway? Rather focus your efforts on the eyes.

Choose your Mask Wisely

Your mask should be well-fitting. If you are constantly adjusting it, you will cause irritation to the skin. For cloth masks; choose natural fibres and have enough masks to allow for daily washing. Try a silk mask, it’s gentle and won’t suck up all the moisture from your skin.

Change surgical masks often during the day. I find them better fitting than cloth masks, as well as more breathable.

N95/FFP3 masks are the worst when it comes to skin problems, so keep the use of these to high risk areas and situations only. And this may seem obvious but only wear a mask when you need to!

Add Acne-specific Treatments

If you are usually an acne sufferer, you’ll want to ensure that you have a salicylic acid containing cleanser and consider adding an acne serum to your routine too. Why not try an Acne Relief treatment at home?

Mask-acne also known as Maskne, has come to include rashes and the skin irritation/breaks that are associated with masks and not just spots.

If you are struggling with areas of redness and skin irritation, try the following:

- Apply powder where the mask touches your skin to reduce skin irritation.

- Clean these areas and apply a rich emollient cream as soon as the mask is removed.

Mask-acne Be Gone

Acne is an ongoing condition and so too will mask-acne be. Start with simple steps regularly and build on from there. Don’t underestimate the effect a small change can make. For more advice about your specific concerns, products or the Acne Relief treatment, contact me.

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