Maskne (Mask + Acne) It's Real. Here's How to Cope

Before the pandemic, you probably didn’t think much about facial masks and coverings. Perhaps masks were something you associated with doctors and surgery, but certainly not routine for your everyday life. Oh, those were the days.

Masks have become integrated into all of our lives, as a way to protect yourself & protect others. We can all be honest here, masks are not the most fun accessory we own, they can be a hassle and cause skin disruptions. Commonly known as “Maskne” (Mask + Acne), you might have noticed an increase of blemishes and breakouts since wearing your mask. We did some research, and it turns out that masks DO cause an increase of acne, but there are ways to mediate this. Read on to learn more about what Maskne is exactly & how to prevent it. 

So, what is Maskne?

The term, Maskne, came into popularity in 2020, as masks became more commonplace & people started noticing skin disruptions in their mouth & cheek areas. Research has proven that Maskne is REAL and totally caused by continual wearing of facial masks. 

Wearing masks can exacerbate acne + facial blemishes due to sweating an increased humidity under your mask. This leads to the swelling of your “epidermal keratinocytes” ; this refers to the highly specialized group of keratinocytes that live on your epidermis, the outermost layer of your skin. The primary function of keratinocytes is the formation of a barrier against environmental damage by heat, UV radiation, water loss, pathogenic bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses. When your keratinocytes become swollen due to humidity under your mask, your hair follicles can become obstructed, and this leads to blemishes. 

Changes to surface sebum composition and skin hydration may disrupt the skin barrier, leading to changes in skin microflora. This means treating maskne should focus on repairing your skin’s barrier, and listening to your microbiome. 

How Do I Treat Maskne?

Masks are not going away anytime soon, in fact, they will probably become a fixture of everyday life. This means learning about your microbiome and your skin is more important than ever, as we all must understand the consequences of long-term mask wearing on our vulnerable microbiome.

Let your skin breathe. Limit the amount of products you are using on your skin. Keep this in mind when you are and when you are not wearing a mask. Heavy creams and makeup can further damage your skin barrier by adding additional layers of humidity under your mask. Whenever possible, practice our philosophy of less is more. 

Consider a Cabinet Cleanse. Review your daily skincare routine. Does your skincare routine serve your skin? Up to 60% of what we put on our skin gets absorbed. That means what your put on your skin can greatly affect your overall health. Because the FDA does not regulate skincare, almost any ingredient can be incorporated in formula, some of them can be incredibly harmful to your microbiome.

Many ingredients found in traditional skincare products (face washes, lotions, sunscreen, etc) have now been linked to health issues such as allergies, eczema, cancer, hormonal disruption, and reproductive problems. Look out for harmful additives that might be harming your skin instead of helping it some common ingredients that have been proven to hurt the microbiome are:

  • Essential oils 
  • Added fragrances- usually listed as Phthalates
  • Alcohol 
  • Mineral Oils
  • Parabens (Methyl, Butyl, Ethyl, Propyl)
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfates (SLS) - these are used to make certain skin products lather and bubble, which might feel like it’s helping your skin, but its actually stripping you microbiome.

Find the right mask.

Search for a close fitting, but comfy fit. The CDC recommends a N95 or KN95 masks for the best protection of you and others.  Be sure that your mask is giving you & those around you proper protection. 

If you have sensitive skin, pay special attention to the fabric on the inside of the mask and ensure it is soft and not irritating your skin. Make sure your mask is snug so it is properly protecting you and others, but be sure that it is not too tight or too loose. When your mask is ill-fitting, you will be prone to adjusting it more which increases the risk of germ transfer form hands to face.

Avoid synthetic fabrics, such as nylon, polyester, and rayon as they are more likely to irritate your skin and cause breakouts.

Test Your Microbiome. Masks cause disruptions to your skin’s microbiome and barrier, the only way to know the exact state of your microbiome? Testing it. Our Skin Microbiome Kit is the perfect solution if you are wondering about the health of your microbiome. With one swab, you can discover your bacteria + fungi, and receive a score based on your microbe makeup. To learn more about our test see here

Maskne has made it clear that understanding the state of your microbiome is more important than ever, here at Dr. Elsa Jungman we are committed to helping navigate the world of skin science. 


Maskne: Exacerbation or Eruption of Acne During the COVID-19 Pandemic,Tamar Aliya Gomolin BSc1,Abigail Cline, PhD,MD2,Marian Russo, MD.


1 comment


This is wildly irresponsible to recommend “breathable fabric” for a mask 2 years into a global COVID pandemic. Cloth masks are not effective against this stage of covid. Surgical or N95 masks must be worn and provided for our safety. Doesn’t matter if you have maskne if you die from COVID. SMH I’ve bought your product several times but no more.

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