Mascne | How to Treat Acne From Masks

Mascne | How to Treat Acne From Masks


Let’s talk about mask acne, which I know is likely affecting a lot of you in the times we’re in at the minute.

I’ll be running through, why masks can give us acne, what to do about it and also what I would suggest using.



So, let’s firstly run through why masks can trigger acne. The biggest factor involved here is irritation which as you may know, a significant amount of research has shown is one of the largest triggers of acne. The mask itself can rub against the skin throughout its duration of use and this friction irritation will likely cause an increase in inflammation.

One study for example showed that three patients who had to wear a medical brace for a jaw deformity developed new mild acne 3-6 weeks after splinting of the teeth [2].


The second factor involved is the physical contamination of the masks, if these are being frequently reused without washing or kept in a sanitary location then you could be introducing more bacteria and oils to your skin which could ultimately lead to more breakouts and inflammation.


The third factor is sweating, as these masks can warm up the local areas of our faces, particularly in the warmer months, which can lead to increased sweating. It isn’t the sweat itself that clogs pores, but sweat can increase irritation of the skin and this is why we sometimes see an increase in breakouts as a result.

One scientific review has proposed that the reason sweat irritates the skin is through causing keratin to swell (Keratin is the fibrous structural protein that makes up hair, skin, nails etc.). Once this protein has swelled up, the pores in our skin begin to narrow which with an abundance of dead skin cells in these this then means that they are likely to clog [1].


Now let’s run through what you can do about it and what factors you should consider when choosing a mask.


Firstly, you need to pick a lightweight mask. A heavier mask will just cause more rubbing and therefore irritation on the skin. Second, it needs to fit properly to reduce your exposure to outside contaminants but must be comfortable enough so that it isn’t essentially digging into your skin. Thirdly you may want a light-coloured mask in warmer climates as naturally these will reflect more sunlight and reduce sweating.

So, you’re probably thinking that the common surgical masks fit all these criteria. They are lightweight, they don’t fit too tightly and they are a light blue colour. Overall, I would agree that to reduce acne these probably are the most suitable.

In a study of 2315 people who wore face masks due to covid-19, they found that 19.6% of those experienced mild-moderate itching which as we know now, this itching will be caused by irritation and irritation largely increases breakouts as well as the fact that those in the study that were acne-prone also reported more itching.

In this study, they wore a variety of masks including:

  • 3-layer disposable surgical masks
  • Cloth masks
  • Disposable respirators
  • N95 masks
  • Gas masks

They found that the surgical masks were less likely to cause itching and the cloth masks were more likely to cause itching than the other masks [3].  So yes, I would probably recommend the surgical masks over cloth masks for acne.

Barring one exception, which is whether you are bothered about the disposable nature of these masks and their impact on the environment in which case if you would prefer to be more environmentally friendly then I would suggest using a cloth mask but ensuring you wash these frequently with face wash and warm water to avoid contamination.


Now if you’re already doing that and experiencing acne, I would thoroughly suggest looking at your skincare routine to reduce your breakouts and counteract the effect of irritation of the masks.

The biggest thing I can suggest first is you should already be using jojoba oil and if you’re not, apply 3 drops to your face on the area where your mask will be sitting as firstly this oil is slightly antibacterial, it mimics our skin oil, hopefully reducing our production which clogs pores and also the most important it will reduce friction on the skin due to its lubricating nature.

I would highly recommend using the Aqneeq products to help prevent breakouts in the first place.

Then beyond that, you should look at my other content including “how to determine a good skincare product” to ensure you are using products that are helping your skin and not making them worse and also my “oily skin” article/video which lists a great skincare routine to reduce skin oiliness and reduce breakouts.


So hopefully you found that useful and if you did, as always, I’d hugely appreciate it if you could share this article using the buttons below.





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