Acne + Mask = ‘Maskne’ - Why It's Occurring and 5 Ways to Handle It

Acne + Mask = ‘Maskne’ - Why It's Occurring and 5 Ways to Handle It

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Have you noticed that you are getting little pimples around your nose and mouth? Is your skin more oily, is it red and sensitive?

In most of the world we have come to accept the reality that masks are to be worn whenever we leave the house. They protect us and others from Covid 19 yes, but they put us at increased risk of the latest dreaded phenomenon… MASKNE!

Maskne is a very real thing and this very stressful moment in time is having a profound effect on our skin.  There was a dermatological study conducted recently in China analyzing the skin of healthcare workers involved in caring for Covid 19 patients. They found that 83 percent of these doctors had skincare problems.

Why It Is Worse in Autumn

With the change of seasons, our skin really gets hit hard. The change of season from summer to fall can be especially troublesome.

During the hot summer months our skin tends to get a bit thicker in reaction to the damaging effects of the sun and heat, not to mention salt and pool water. Then as the weather gets cooler, our skin becomes dehydrated because of wind, cold and heating… The perfect combination for an acne breakout!

Breakouts tend to happen more frequently in the fall for these reasons anyway, but let’s talk about the added stress of this season. Coronavirus is not just an inconvenience, it has become a true stressor that has made many people around the world lose sleep.

Between worrying about family members at risk, worrying about how the family will cope if you get sick and if you’ll have a job at the end of all this along with a million other stressors!

That stress could be playing a part in those breakouts! When your body feels stress, it releases cortisol. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands and is known as our ‘fight or flight’ hormone. It helps your body to manage stressful situations, but cortisol released into the body can sometimes throw off other hormones in your body. That imbalance can cause breakouts and blemishes.

So, as you can see, there are a lot of reasons that your skin is breaking out - masks, stress and the season in general!

5 Ways to Avoid and Treat Maskne

1. Keep Your Diet Clean

As we all know, once the weather turns cool eating a balanced healthy diet for some reason just becomes so much more difficult!

A hot chocolate here, a nibble of cake there, some chips and fries while watching sports on a cold day. As much as we hate to admit it our diet has a very significant effect on our skin. The Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology has concluded that acne IS related to diet and that chocolate, dairy and sugary food can actually CAUSE acne.

That comfort eating is probably having a really negative effect on your skin. Believe me, I know it’s so hard to do, but when you feel the need to stress eat, make sure you have lots of healthy options available. Instead of chips or fries, try whole grain crackers with a bit of nut butter, instead of chocolate or sweets keep some frozen mango in the freezer. Let it thaw for a bit and it's just like eating a delicious sorbet - I swear try it!

It is believed that insulin levels may actually increase sebum production - exactly what you do not want in this period! So try keeping that glycemic index low - if you need some dietary suggestions click here.

If it still hasn’t cleared up, try eliminating dairy. Many nutritionists claim that dairy exposes you to hormones which could create skincare problems.

2. Treat Your Mask Like Your Underwear!

Dermatologists recommend that you use a 100% cotton mask. This allows your skin to breathe and ensures that less sweat will be trapped inside.

It’s important to remember the whole point of wearing a mask is to keep saliva and droplets from spreading, but that also means that your mask is keeping bacteria and moisture trapped against your skin. You have to wear a clean mask each and every day to avoid having all of that dirt, makeup and oil from rubbing against your skin all day.

Plus, let’s face it, masks can irritate your skin. Your face is a delicate area and having a mask rubbing and touching your face all day can cause inflammations and breakouts. Even if you don’t feel the irritation and inflammation, it is probably happening. This increases sebum production and also leads to clogged pores, which allows sebum and bacteria to get under your skin.

If your pimples are little whiteheads then that’s from that irritation - meanwhile if your pimples are hard and under the skin, that’s from hormones and I suggest you evaluate your diet and stress levels like I detailed above.

3. How to Adapt Your Skincare Routine

Now, here’s the great news - your skincare routine needs a serious downgrade. In this case you absolutely need to keep the routine simple.

Try using a delicate cleanser - make sure to look for something very simple - obviously without parabens, but also try to find something without extra perfumes and dyes. While you may never have had problems with your usual cleanser, the irritation from the mask might just make some of the ingredients too harsh on your skin.

Make sure you are washing - cleansing that is - your face every morning as well. While you sleep your skin purges toxins. It is very important to not just rinse your face but to use your cleanser and a toner before applying your skin cream.

Given that this detox happens every night while you sleep, try changing your pillowcases more often and changing your sheets at least once a week.

Make sure to use a gentle but hydrating scrub once a week to keep skin pores clean and free of dead skin cells. I love Rose Scrub by Clean Beauty Swiss. It’s extremely delicate and real rose petals not only smell amazing help to nourish and protect delicate skin.

Another time saver is to keep your makeup to a minimum. There is no need to layer primer, foundation, powder, etc. on the lower part of your face - it’s covered anyway! Plus all it does is to get your mask dirty and risks creating a breakout.

4. Natural Treatments for Maskne

After all this, it is probable that at some point you will get pimples and blemishes from wearing a mask this year. If it happens do not over react. Many people think that if you have a pimple you need to dry it out as soon as possible - ever tried sleeping with toothpaste on a spot? It’s never worked for me either… 🤣

So, the first thing you want to do is to make sure that you keep your skin washed and moisturized. I know this sounds contradictory - if you have oily skin your first instinct is to stop hydrating it. But, you risk creating a vicious cycle - dehydrated skin causes more sebum to be released and so on. So, much like the above suggestion about a cleanser, try changing up your moisturizer, looking for one specifically designed for sensitive skin without any perfumes, dyes or parabens.

Here are a few emergency treatments that you can use to minimize those pimples:

  • Tea Tree Oil - this is one of the most readily available essential oils available. I have seen it in supermarkets and pharmacies and is easy to have on hand. Tea tree oil will kill bacteria and will reduce the inflammation of the pimple. You want to use a mix of the tea tree oil and water - 1 part oil to 9 parts water, apply as needed to the pimple. I use a cotton swab to be able to really concentrate on the spot.
  • Aloe vera - when applied to your skin, aloe vera can heal burns, heal wounds and fight inflammation. Aloe vera is as easy to find if not more so than tea tree oil. Any supermarket or pharmacy will have it on hand. Aloe vera contains salicylic acid and sulfur which are both used to fight acne.

5. And Finally - Manage Your Stress

At the end of the day the most important advice you can take away from this article is to manage your stress. Stress shows in so many ways on your skin and even when it doesn’t manifest itself in a breakout, it will leave your skin dull, tired and lifeless…

Take advantage of more time spent at home by trying to get to sleep a bit earlier every evening. Your body produces collagen and detoxes while you sleep - both of which will leave you with more balanced, healthier skin.

Download a meditation app - I know I know, but it doesn’t mean you have to light the patchouli incense and start chanting! Find something that works for you. I recently tried a meditation video - Adriene Mischler if you’re interested - and she just calmly spoke for 10 minutes, reminding me to breathe, to relax my body etc. 10 minutes and it was all done - I have to confess I had tears streaming down my face! Apparently there was a bit of stress that needed to be dealt with!!!

Try going for a walk, do some deep breathing, try yoga…


At the end of the day, maskne is hardly something that you should be losing sleep over right now.  With Coronavirus running through every country in the world leaving devastation in every corner, a few pimples from your mask is probably the last thing you are really stressing about.

But, if it’s this simple to take care of it and to prevent it, why not? It actually takes you less time - remember the no makeup suggestion??

So, keep this blog bookmarked so that if you need to reference it you have it. At the end of the day, do it for you, do it because these days we need everything we can to feel good about ourselves and the world around us.

And check out the collection of Clean Beauty Swiss scrubs to bring the relaxing spa experience right to your own bathroom - Lavender Vanilla is the perfect stress relief!!!