What Causes ‘Maskne’ and How to Treat Yours

With a mask mandate currently in place for the state of Wisconsin and many other areas across the U.S., we are all getting use to this ‘new normal’ and the additional accessory we carry with us everywhere. While masks are a minor adjustment to some, those with acne-prone skin (or even those who don’t regularly breakout) may be experiencing an increase in blemishes across the lower-half of their face. This condition is so common that it has actually been given a named — Maskne.

Mask wearing traps moisture (saliva and other droplets from coughing, sneezing, talking, and breathing) from escaping, which is helpful in slowing/stopping the spread of Covid-19.  Unfortunately, the extra moisture also causes acne breakouts in the mask area. This damp, humid environment is a perfect for acne bacteria to grow and thrive. 


Wearing a mask for an extended period of time, not washing your mask often enough, or the mask material itself can all contribute to “Maskne” breakouts. In addition, the detergent that you use to wash your mask can also be a cause. 


Wearing breathable fabric masks made of 100% cotton is helpful and washing your mask frequently will also help reduce “maskne”. If you are wearing disposable masks for long periods of time, consider switching to a new one a few times per day. This will help to prevent bacteria from growing. Another tip is to avoid wearing makeup under your mask area. (We know this is much easier said than done!)   


Cleanse and moisturize your skin before and after mask use. This ensures that the skin is clean and less of an environment for acne bacteria to grow in.  It is best to not over exfoliate the skin if you are experiencing breakouts, as this can cause an opposite reaction – with more oil production and acne breakouts in the long run, especially with ongoing mask wearing.  

Ultraceuticals Ultra Clear Foaming Cleanser andUltra Clear Treatment Lotion are two great products that will help with Maskne. Ultraceuticals also offers an Ultra Clear Purifying Mask with madelic and salicylic acids that are great for controlling oil.  This can be used to spot treat areas under your mask and can be left on during the day.  

 Other great skincare options include:

      • Products from ZO Skin Health, such as their Exfoliating Cleanser, or ZO Skin Health Oil Control Pads (if you have normal to oily skin)/ Complexion Renewal Pads (if you have normal to dry skin) to balance the amount of oil on the skin and keep it looking clear.
      • SkinBetter Science offers a great cleanser –  Oxygen Infusion Wash and their AlphaRet Peel Pads, which can be used 1-2 times per week if you are looking for a stronger treatment for more stubborn and persistent “Maskne”.
      • Another great cleanser comes from Skin Medica- their AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser is elegantly formulated and gently scrubs away dead skin, improving the skin’s tone and texture. It is also appropriate for all skin types. Skin Medica also offers a complete acne system with benzoyl peroxide to help combat persistent acne. 

In addition to these fantastic products, a great option for treating Maskne is our Acne Laser Facial. This treatment targets breakouts and acne without the use of creams or prescription products, leaving you with an overall clearer and brighter complexion. The Acne Laser Facial stimulates and regenerates your skin cells, leaving you with healthy, radiant skin. If this is a treatment you’re considering, we highly recommend booking a complimentary laser consultation to make sure this service is right for you.

Not sure which Maskne solutions are best for you? Stop in at either of our SKN BAR RX locations (North Shore and Lake Country) and let our Licensed Aestheticians guide you to your best skin care products and services.