Our Guide to Maskne: What You Need to Know About Acne Caused by Face Masks

man wearing a mask

Wearing face masks has been a crucial part of everyday life, as it plays an instrumental role in preventing the transmission of COVID-19. It is essentially the first line of defence against the virus, protecting others from catching microbes you may be spreading. However, for most people, wearing a mask all day is a new concept that takes some time to get used to, leading to potentially embarrassing side effects like a sudden acne problem. In fact, acne caused by wearing face masks has become so common that it’s been nicknamed “maskne” on social media.

The constant wearing of face masks, coupled with the heightened stress and anxiety caused by current events, makes your face more prone to breakouts. Additionally, the moist, recirculated area in the lower half of your face encourages bacteria and organisms to grow, leading to the appearance of more acne. Here’s what you need to know about maskne and what you can do about it:

All About Maskne or Acne Mechanica

Maskne differs from the kind of acne you get when you’re stressed or experiencing hormonal fluctuations, as it results from acne mechanica, which occurs due to repeated friction of an object against the skin. Consistently wearing any kind of protective equipment, like a face mask or a suit, can irritate hair follicles on your skin due to the constant rubbing against it. It progresses to cause inflammation, leading to acne.

Additionally, moisture gets trapped under your mask. It gets even worse in Malaysia’s humid temperatures, coupled with the hot weather conditions and makeup you may be wearing. Even if you may not be experiencing blemishes, your impaired skin barrier may still show signs of irritation, such as dry skin, stinging, burning, eczema, and inflammation.

Recommended Acne Treatment Methods 

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can treat maskne. You can pursue medical-grade facials, which use ingredients like alpha hydroxy acid to eliminate sebum in your skin and complement it with other hydrating, soothing products.

You can also try chemical peels, which is an excellent way to unclog pores, minimise oil production, and reduce pores’ appearance. Without irritating your skin, it removes dead skin cells and brightens your face while stimulating collagen production.

Lastly, you can also pursue laser treatment, which is a great way to diminish acne scars’ appearance. It destroys overactive sebum glands while restraining inflammation in acne and accelerating the healing process, allowing your skin to repair itself and look better than before.

How to Prevent Maskne

While mask-wearing won’t go away any time soon, there are a few things you can do to reduce the occurrence of maskne. For example, washing your cloth masks immediately after use and allowing them to dry completely will help prevent maskne from growing. You must also throw disposable masks properly and never reuse them, much like underwear.

Another way to prevent maskne is to use gentle skincare products and avoid those containing sodium lauryl sulfate, which is known to remove the skin’s natural oils and damage the barrier. Be sure to use only clean hands when washing your face. 

Lastly, avoid wearing heavy makeup to cover your acne, which can exacerbate the problem. Avoid products with a thick consistency and those that use coconut oil, which can cause acne flare-ups when trapped by a face mask. In fact, the best course of action to take is to avoid using foundation in the meantime and to use sunscreen to protect your face. Be sure to keep your lips hydrated with lip serum or lip balm. Avoid wearing lip gloss or lipstick, which can stick to your mask and smudge all over your mouth, worsening the problem.


Wearing masks has saved countless lives. However, it has made many people feel uncomfortable due to the acne it causes, tempting them to stop wearing masks altogether. Fortunately, you can enjoy the protection of wearing a mask without risking acne by following our guide, which will help keep other people safe and allow things to normalise faster.

CLÉO Clinic is a premium aesthetic clinic offering numerous treatments like chemical peels, dermal fillers, acne scar removal, and many more. Our philosophy is to boost your confidence and enhance your natural beauty with medically proven procedures and treatment regimes. Schedule your appointment today to get started on an improved you!