What Is ‘Mask Acne’ and How to Treat It?

A few months ago, terms like “social distancing,” “home isolation,” and “quarantine bubble” were not in our everyday vocabulary. Along with new words and phrases, we have also added masks to our daily routine. If you are a responsible mask-wearing citizen, as is recommended by global health agencies, you have likely added another word to your lexicon, mask acne, or maskne. Masks are an essential addition to your daily outfits, but they can cause unwanted acne. Your skin is sensitive, and acne is relatively common, but it is entirely treatable. By following a simple skincare routine, you can keep your whole face happy and healthy, but a skincare routine is not the only way to prevent mask acne. You also must choose the correct mask and care for your mask to avoid mask acne. 

What Is Mask Acne

Mask acne is technically called acne mechanica. This fancy technical term refers to the mechanical friction of the mask fabric rubbing against your skin. Friction can cause irritation and inflammation that impacts your pores. Moisture from sweat or humidity can also get trapped under your mask and exacerbate the already irritated area. Friction plus moisture is a perfect combination for mask acne, but it is only natural. Your skin is sensitive, and friction is just one thing that can affect your skin, as everything from hair dye, body wash, laundry detergent, and even your sheets can affect your skin. To prevent and treat mask acne, you need the right mask and the proper skincare routine.

Best Masks To Prevent Mask Acne

The first step in preventing mask acne is choosing the right face mask. Dermatologists recommend either soft cotton or silk masks instead of polyester or harsher fabrics. It is worth spending a little more on a high-quality reusable and washable mask. Do not be tempted by cheap, low-quality masks as they are more likely to irritate your skin and will cost you more money in the long run. While optional, metal nose pieces help your mask stay in place, so you adjust and fidget less. Fidgeting and adjusting your mask only increases the friction against your skin, so ensure your mask is comfortable but fits snug against your face.


Once you find a mask, you must care for it. Washable masks are ideal, but how you wash your masks also matters. Wash your mask with dye-free, fragrance-free detergents and fabric softeners to keep your mask clean and soft. Scents and dyes are often the cause of skin issues, so choose detergents that contain neither. Experts suggest washing your mask daily, which means you may need more than one mask to last between laundry days.

Skincare to Prevent and Treat Mask Acne


It may be tempting to wash your face every time you take your mask off, but overwashing your skin will dry it out and leave you worse off. If you are sweaty or have been wearing a mask for hours, a quick wipe is all you need outside of your regular skincare routine. Even if you maintain your usual skincare routine that usually keeps your skin clear, spots are somewhat inevitable. Classic spot treatments with benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are easy to find options to treat odd spots. Some high-performing spot treatments carry a high price tag, but you use very little product each time, so one bottle should last a while.


Keeping your skin moisturized is critical to protecting your natural barriers and pores. However, when wearing a mask, you should look for light-weight, soothing moisturizers with antioxidants to prevent water loss and reduce oil production. Heavy creams and oil-based moisturizers do not mix well with masks and may make your mask acne worse.


Everyone wants to look their best, even while wearing a mask, but experts advise against wearing makeup with your mask. The friction from the mask will push the makeup into your skin and can make the irritation even worse. Most makeup contains oils that will only make your mask acne worse. A tinted broad-spectrum SPF daily sunscreen will keep you looking your best and protect your skin without clogging your pores.


Masks are a critical accessory during this pandemic, and everyone should be following health recommendations to slow the spread of the virus. While masks are essential, they can cause mask acne. By choosing a mask made of the right fabric and washing it regularly, you can reduce the friction that causes mask acne. Taking care of your skin with your usual skincare routine will prevent acne, but it is not a perfect system. Wipe the sweat off your face, but don’t overwash. Use spot treatments for flare-ups, keep your skin moisturized, and opt for a tinted sunscreen over regular makeup.

About the author:

Naomi Shaw is a freelance journalist residing in sunny Southern California with her husband and three children. She is a work-at-home mom that enjoys writing on fashion, beauty, jewelry, and everything weddings!

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