“Maskne” is the new acne: Why your mask is breaking you out and how to avoid it

With an end to the coronavirus pandemic nowhere in sight, wearing a mask is incredibly important now more than ever. For lots of people, this is the first time they’ve ever needed to wear a mask on a daily basis. As mask-wearing becomes more prevalent, some people are noticing that their skin seems to be breaking out and becoming irritated. At Kura, we want to help you take care of your skin and your health, so here’s all you need to know about why your mask is breaking you out and some steps to take to avoid it.

First of all, it is indeed a real thing and not just a figment of your imagination. The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology even published a letter recently that looked at the increase in skin damage among Chinese medical workers responding to the coronavirus pandemic. 

What you need to know about maskne

There are many different types of masks, from face shields to surgical masks to cloth coverings. When you wear any of these, especially on hot days, you end up with lots of bacteria, moisture, oil, and sweat left over on your skin. I for one have definitely come home from a walk around the neighborhood with a mask-shaped patch of sweat on my face.

It makes sense that some people are finding that their skin breaks out or becomes irritated after wearing a mask for an extended period of time. But rather than skip the mask and risk spreading COVID to others or becoming infected yourself, it’s much better (and safer!) to find ways to take care of your skin before and after mask-wearing. 

How to prevent maskne

Before putting on your mask and heading out to the grocery store or on a walk around the block, it’s best to avoid wearing makeup as it can clog your pores and irritate your skin.

In an interview with The New York Times, Dr. Candrice Heath, an assistant professor of dermatology at Temple University said that people “need to treat [their masks] like underwear and wash it frequently.” By replacing your mask (if disposable) or washing it frequently, you can avoid putting the bacteria that sit on the mask directly on your face.

While clogged pores are certainly one side effect of mask-wearing, masks can also cause irritation simply through friction with your skin. Breakouts that arise from friction are also called “acne mechanica.” This irritation can also take its form as dry patches, red spots, and other signs of skin inflammation. Make sure that your mask fits you well, meaning that it is tight enough to be effective, but not so tight that it’s painful. 

How to treat maskne

Usually when we break out, our first instinct is to put as many acne-busting products on our face and hope for the best. But when it comes to treating maskne, it’s important to be gentle on your skin. This means avoiding products that can be particularly harsh on your skin like exfoliating acids, chemical peels, and scrubs. 

Since your mask is already irritating your skin, you don’t want your routine to be adding to that irritation. Instead, you should opt for gentle cleansers, lightweight moisturizers, and physical sunscreens. These products will keep your skin clean, hydrated, and protected while not irritating it any further.

How Kura can help

Wearing a mask is a necessity but, with some extra care and TLC, you can keep maskne in check. To avoid breakouts from masks, finding the right gentle, hydrating, and clarifying products is key. That’s where we can help. To get a mask-ready routine that’s tailored to you, head to kuraskin.com, take our skin quiz and choose a budget. We’ll connect you with the right collection of ingredients to help keep those breakouts at bay.

For the latest information on COVID symptoms, prevention, and other resources, please visit the CDC website.

Emma Swislow