Dealing with Face Mask Skin Problems

Although wearing face masks is crucial during the pandemic, they create the perfect environment for oils, dead skin cells, and bacteria to thrive in — on your face!

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Wearing a face mask causes friction between the mask and the skin, which can cause irritation and push bacteria into the skin, leading to rashes, acne, etc. As your skin’s barrier is compromised, these problems are more visible at the areas where the mask sits snugly, such as your chin, nose, and cheekbones.

During summers, masks trap humidity, dirt, oil, and sweat, causing lots of breakouts. This means most skin problems in the summers would more likely be due to clogged pores, but those in the winters can be from friction on the dry, delicate skin.


The clinical term for mask-ne is acne mechanica, and it is caused by friction, heat, pressure, and rubbing against the skin. This gets worse in the summer due to increased oil production in skin pores.

Washing your face before you put on a mask and after you take it off is very important. Cotton masks are best to use if you already have acne-prone skin. Just make sure to wash them after each use as oils, germs, and particles on the skin can collect on the mask and build up to irritate the skin.

In case you are wearing makeup under your mask, make sure it is oil-free or mineral-based. It is better to skip makeup if a lot of mask-ne has flared up, as it clogs pores leading to even more breakouts. Try opting for a non-comedogenic moisturizer and tinted sunscreen instead of a foundation.

You can wear acne patches under your mask and use them for spot treatment. If you have acne-prone skin, cleansers that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide will help.

Dry skin

As winters approach, so do dryness and dehydration. If you have dry skin, a gentle cleanser that does not over dry your skin or strip its oils will be ideal since masks can worsen skin irritation. Sensitive or irritated skin is even more prone but swiping it with a cotton pad soaked in the cleanser can help gently cleanse it.

Moisturizing is important. Hyaluronic acid is naturally a part of your skin, retaining water to keep it hydrated, but it decreases as you grow older. It is present in moisturizers that come in many forms, such as gel-based, cream, and lotion.

In case you already have mask-ne and want to prevent chapped skin, it is a good idea to create a protective barrier. Layer on a hydrating and occlusive balm on your skin along the area where the mask sits. This will not only soothe parched skin, but it will prevent bacteria from spreading across your face.

Irritated skin

Opting for a soft, cotton mask to reduce friction can help prevent irritation. Your moisturizer can save the day here by protecting your skin from rubbing and chafing. Applying petroleum jelly to irritated spots on your face before bed can help heal raw, irritated skin.

Using face masks intensifies product delivery to your skin. That is why it is a good idea not to use a lot of products under a mask. If you have to use active products such as those containing retinol or any new skincare items, it is recommended that they be used only at night.

If you want a physical barrier between your irritated skin and the mask, using acne patches or silicone tape where the mask contacts your skin and rubs the most can help prevent irritation.

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Dealing with Face Mask Skin Problems

Although wearing face masks is crucial during the pandemic, they create the perfect environment for oils, dead skin cells, and bacteria to thrive in — on your face!

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