How To Treat & Avoid Maskne (Mask-Acne)

by Grace Min

Wearing a protective mask for long periods of time can cause "Maskne" (mask-nee). This can include breakouts, dry patches, clogged pores, and red bumps. This happens because the mask traps oil and sebum from your pores, leaving the oil to stick to the mask lining. Since the mask lining is secured to your face, it creates a breeding environment that promotes breakouts. Keep reading so you can avoid and learn how to treat Maskne.


Wash your face before and after wearing a mask! When wearing a face mask on a daily basis, these are three main skincare steps that are the most important for preventing breakouts: 

  • Cleanse / Exfoliate. Using a pH-balanced foam cleanser after you take your mask off, will remove oil & sebum better than oil or balm cleansers. It’s also recommended to use a gentle exfoliator more regularly since the production of dead skin cells are increased under your mask. It’ll help keep your skin clear as you remove backed up debris. 
  • Moisturize. Moisturizing will help fight off dryness caused by the face mask. It also creates a protective barrier from the mask itself. A non-comedogenic (doesn't clog pores), fragrance-free moisturizer in a gel formulation is highly recommended. A gel formula works great for humid environments. Smear & pat a layer of moisturizer right before you wear your mask.
  • For Severe Irritation & Dryness. Use an ointment like Aquaphor Healing Ointment to help revive your skin. 



    Ingredients to Look For

    Vitamin B3 / Niacinamide helps strengthen and protect your skin barrier, brightens, hydrates, and heals your skin. 

    Tea Tree Oil is antibacterial so it’ll help fight off bacteria. However, it is a strong ingredient so always dilute one drop into your moisturizer or use a Tea Tree Face Mask as it is diluted and formulated to be safe. 

    Cica, Rosehip, Green Tea, Vitamin E, & Seaweed are antioxidants that protect your skin by fighting off and reducing bacteria production. It also helps reduce pigmentation and fine lines. 

    Hyaluronic Acid is a super hydrator and helps your skin to retain moisture.


    Ingredients to Avoid

    Salicylic Acid is more prone to dry out your skin. It’s best to avoid anything that will promote dryness and irritation. Most breakouts are aggravated by dryness-triggered inflammation.

    Go Makeup-free

    I know, it’s sad for us makeup lovers, but It’s best to skip doing your makeup in the areas where your mask is touching. Face makeup like foundations, concealers, and powders will only help promote the accumulation of bacteria, clogged pores, and irritation. If you’re really itching for that creative release, you can still express it through your eye makeup and anywhere else that isn’t covered by your mask. 



    Use a Breathable Face Cover 

    It is recommended by the CDC for the public to wear fabric-based masks or coverings and even slipping in a filter for better protection. Wearing a breathable fabric as a covering will decrease irritation and increase comfortability. These are also reusable and washable masks, so you can always be using a clean covering for your face.

    Another option is to wear disposable face masks that have three filtering layers for increased protection. Since it is disposable, you can have comfort knowing it is clean after each new use. 

    Disposable mask by

    If anyone can provide supplies to your local hospitals, we want to encourage you to do so! To put our words into action, The Avarelle Team started a 10K Mask Initiative to donate ten thousand surgical masks to our local hospitals. Update: We donated 1,000 surgical masks so far.


    We hope everyone is staying safe during these trying times. Please visit the CDC website for more information on safety precautions.  

    Everyone has their unique skin barrier and conditions. Always consult with your dermatologist & esthetician for what is right for you.

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