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Handling mask-ne: facial acne from your mask

Face masks are a part of daily life now, and in some places, they are mandatory any time you leave your home. That can add up to a lot of mask wearing.

Along with all that mask wearing comes an unfortunate side effect: mask-ne. Acne can develop along your chin, jaw, mouth, and nose from wearing your mask (which you should keep doing). There are ways to treat and prevent mask-ne though.

Consider your mask material

There is no standard mask material. Instead, you can find masks made out of everything from cotton to spandex to viscose.

Some of these materials will make you more prone to mask-ne than others will. Really, it's a combination of your skin's sensitivity level, the mask fabric, and the amount of time you wear the mask. But generally, people experience less mask-ne when they wear masks made from bamboo or moisture-wicking material.


Bamboo is an excellent mask material because it possesses natural antimicrobial properties. It resists building populations of bacteria and fungi in your mask, which can easily happen with other mask materials because the environment is moist from breathing.

bamboo mask reduces acne
Bamboo mask from Boody.

Bamboo is grown without pesticides (it doesn't require them), which means the fabric used to make your mask is likely less irritating than other mask materials.

Lastly, bamboo is naturally moisture wicking. Your skin doesn't stay damp, a big factor in developing mask-ne. Altogether, this makes bamboo one of the best materials you can choose for a mask.

Moisture-wicking materials

Another good option for mask materials that reduce your likelihood for mask-ne is athletic materials built for moisture wicking.

reduce acne with moisture wicking mask
Moisture-wicking masks from Onzie.

Some of the top recommendations in this category include brands like Teeki and Onzie because they make their masks (and workout clothing) from recycled materials. However, any material that offers moisture wicking will probably reduce your facial acne risk.

Acne thrives in warm, moist environments. It also takes root better when your skin is irritated and inflamed. Therefore, your best bet to handling your mask-ne is preventing moisture and irritation.

Consider how you're washing your mask

Before masks, people didn't have much fabric come into contact with their face. Faces are typically more sensitive to fragrances, dyes, and additives than the skin on the rest of the body. That means the typical detergents we use for laundry will be more likely to cause irritation and subsequent outbreaks on our faces.

Regardless of what material your mask is made of, you should consider washing it with a very gentle cleanser. This can be a couple of drops of castille soap and warm water or an additive-free detergent such as Meliora.

castille soap gentle cleanser
Castille soap can actually be used for laundry, dishes, flooring, and more.

You can wash your masks by hand in a kitchen bowl, rinse them for a full minute, and let them air dry on a towel. Washing at least a couple times a week is a good idea, and rotating among a few masks is also helpful.

The key here is to avoid highly fragranced, harsh laundry detergents, softeners, and dryer sheets.

Up your face washing game

If your face gets particularly sweaty when you wear your mask or you are exercising in your mask, you should consider washing your face with a gentle cleanser after you remove the mask.

Cetaphil is a highly recommended gentle cleanser that is perfect for this task. However, any gentle facial cleanser will do. Make sure to pat the area dry.

Gentle cleanser for mask acne
Meow Meow Tweet has an excellent gentle cleanser, and the line is available at Target.

If you can't find an opportunity to wash your face, you can at least pat your face dry intermittently to reduce the moisture under your mask. Again, the towel should be washed with a very gentle detergent because it's going to be touching your face.

Also, if you are wearing lipstick, gloss, or chapstick with your mask and experiencing mask-ne, stop! Switch to vaseline or wear nothing on your lips. It's easy for that kind of stuff to spread all over your face when you wear a mask.

Overall, mask-ne can be handled, and wearing masks is really important for public health. Don't stop wearing masks just because they can induce facial acne.



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I'm Kat, the author of the healthy, happy blog. Using my background in science, personal training, and writing, I post about how to be successful in four main areas of your life: finances, body, mind, and home.

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