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How to treat and prevent maskne

We asked board-certified dermatologists for solutions for those pesky mask-related breakouts.

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If you’ve been experiencing annoying breakouts from your face mask, you’re not alone. Maskne has become a thing, but thankfully, there are a few key ways to treat those pesky pimples — while preventing others from popping up. We took a closer look at some skincare solutions.

Our top maskne treatment picks

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream
Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream

Sephora

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Acne Treatment
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Acne Treatment

Ulta

Fresh Soy Makeup Removing Face Wash
Fresh Soy Makeup Removing Face Wash

Sephora

Top acne treatments and where to buy them

When you’re looking for maskne treatments, there are a few key ingredients to keep an eye out for. Benzoyl peroxide, for instance, can help reduce inflammation and kill acne-causing bacteria. Salicylic acid is also helpful, because it can bring down inflammation and clear blocked pores. You might also consider retinoids, which slough off dead skin cells and can help control blackheads and whiteheads.

  • Ulta: You’ll find a wide range of acne-fighting treatments, including benzoyl peroxide face washes and a number a salicylic acid products in the form of spot treatments, cleansers and serums.
  • Amazon: Discover a number of moisturizers featuring niacinamide, which can help improve skin texture, treat hyperpigmentation and prevent acne.
  • Sephora: Trying to speed up the healing process? Browse Sephora’s numerous acne spot treatments, many of which feature salicylic acid to tone down redness and swelling.
  • Target: If you’re not looking to break the bank, choose from Target’s budget-friendly acne treatment solutions like Neutrogena On-The-Spot Acne Treatment and La Roche Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Face Cleanser.
  • Dermstore: Shop retinoid products from skincare lines like Paula’s Choice and Murad. You’ll also find oil-free sunscreens, which are helpful for keeping your pores unclogged.

Maskne treatment collections from popular brands

Some beloved skincare brands have even come out with full collections of products specifically designed to help treat and prevent maskne.

  • Peach and Lily Maskne Essentials. The K-beauty skincare line has released its “maskne essentials” collection, which includes acne spot treatment, a hydrating gel cleanser and a tea tree balancing toner.
  • MM Skincare Maskne Kit. This kit features a serum and face mask, with acne-fighting ingredients like geranium and oregano.
  • Soko Glam Maskne Relief Duo. You’ll get a five-pack of masks with ingredients including moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid, plus a face cream with ceramides for dry skin.

What causes maskne?

When we wear masks for a prolonged period of time, an excess of oil, sweat and bacteria can get trapped, leading to unfortunate breakouts. “Maskne is caused by a build up of bacteria under the mask and a reaction to formaldehyde and other chemicals in the mask fabric,” Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Leslie Baumann notes. Baumann has her patients apply a toner underneath their masks to protect their skin.

Additionally, the friction between the mask and your skin can cause a pesky cocktail of irritation, dryness and itchiness. These issues are particularly heightened for people who already struggle with acne, rosacea and eczema.

What’s the best type of face mask for preventing acne?

N95 masks can potentially contribute to maskne because they’re sealed so closely to the face, leading to more irritation. If you’re able to wear a less form-fitting mask, you might consider a silk option, which is gentler on the skin and causes less friction. The only downside is that the material offers less protection, so you should look for silk masks that have multiple layers and filters.

Breathable cotton masks are also a great bet. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Paru Chaudhari — who specializes in treating inflammatory skin conditions like acne and rosacea — says a lightweight cotton mask causes the least amount of irritation to the skin.

Our top picks

Made-in-USA cloth face mask
Made-in-USA cloth face mask

StringKing

Made to Move Face Masks: 3-Pack
Made to Move Face Masks: 3-Pack

Athleta

Other ways to prevent and treat maskne

If you’ve changed up your mask and are taking care of your skin accordingly, but you’re still dealing with acne, give these tips a try.

  • Wash your mask at least once a day. You can machine-wash or clean by hand, using warm or hot water and a fragrance-free detergent.
  • Skip makeup whenever you can. Applying foundation, blush or any other kind of cosmetics can further clog pores, leading to more breakouts. If you do wear makeup, stick to a clean, mineral-based formulation like bareMinerals or Jane Iredale Cosmetics.
  • Use a gentle cleanser and wash your face twice a day — both before you put on your mask and after you take it off at the end of the night. This will ensure a clean slate before you put on your mask in the morning and go to bed for the night. But make sure it is, in fact, a gentle cleanser, Chaudhari says. “Although it may seem counterintuitive, you’ll want to avoid heavy scrubs or peels, which can irritate the top layer of the skin,” Chaudhari says. “And pro tip: Be sure all the creams fully dry and absorb into the skin before putting your mask on.”
  • Try a purifying clay mask once per week to calm irritation and clear pores. We like the clay-based masks from Sand and Sky, Proactiv Solutions and Origins — you can shop from ASOS and Ulta.

Bottom line

Acne is a frustrating side effect of wearing a mask for an extended period of time. But it can be combatted with the right products and daily hygiene practices.

Looking for the latest deals and coupons on top beauty products? Take a look at our skincare sales guide to stretch your beauty bucks further.

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