How to Avoid Maskne: The Best Way to Combat Mask Breakouts

Face Mask Acne by popular D.C. beauty blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of Alicia Tenise wearing a straw boater hat and black and white face mask.

So the mask has officially become the hottest accessory of 2020. Not only will you keep those around you safe by wearing a mask, but you can also find some pretty stylish ones that will look incredible with your OOTD as well.

One of the only downsides of masks, however? Face mask acne (aka Maskne). I avoided getting breakouts from my face masks for a while: a few months ago, I only went out a couple of times a week, and I would need to wear a mask for about 30 minutes max in public. Now that work is picking up for both Tom and me, we’re out and about a bit more, and the more we’re in public, the more we wear masks.

A couple of weeks ago, I started to notice the oddest breakouts on my face. They were super small little whiteheads all around my lips and chin, and I could tell that it was way different than the hormonal acne I get from time to time. I had heard about “maskne” from a few friends, but I had never experienced it…until a few weeks ago.

According to a dermatologist, the “constant rubbing of the masks against our skin causes micro-tears, allowing easier entry for bacteria and dirt to clog up our pores.” (Source) Plus, when you breathe into a face mask, it creates a hot and moist environment. So naturally, it would be super easy to get breakouts if you’re wearing masks often.

Want to avoid maskne? Here are a few things you can do to keep your skin clear while wearing masks!

Face Mask Acne by popular D.C. beauty blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of Alicia Tenise wearing a leopard print robe and applying Olay eye cream.

How to Avoid Face Mask Acne

Skip the Heavy Foundation

So, I’m pretty guilty here. When I started doing more photoshoots outside of my home, I would apply my makeup normally for shoots. I typically wear a full-coverage foundation when I’m shooting, because let’s face it: I want my skin to look as good as possible in the age of internet trolls! I still needed to wear a mask out in public, so I’d just wear my mask over my foundation. 

This ended up backfiring on me big time. For the summer, I’ve temporarily had to say goodbye to my beloved full-coverage foundation and opt for a lightweight tinted moisturizer instead when I need to wear makeup. If you can go makeup-free, that’s your best bet, but if you need a bit of coverage, look for something lightweight, so your skin doesn’t get congested. I’ve started using the Maracuja Tinted Hydrator from Tarte (also, if you want to order anything from Tarte’s website, use my code “ALICIA15” for 15% off your purchase!)

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Double Cleanse

Raise your hand if you double cleanse. Have no idea what that means? I don’t blame you: I was in the dark about this until I was getting a facial and my esthetician highly recommended that I start doing this!

When you double cleanse, you’re getting a deep clean. Do this at night so that you can get rid of any dirt or buildup that’s accumulated on your skin during the day. The key to double cleansing is to start with an oil cleanser and follow up with a gentle cleanser. The oil cleanser will get rid of makeup and oil buildup, and the gentle cleanser will get deeper into the pores and remove even more impurities.

My favorite oil cleanser for double cleansing is the Dermalogica Precleanse Cleansing Oil. It’s an investment, but it will last you for a while!

Add Some Acne-Fighting Serums to Your Routine

A few weeks ago, I participated in an Acne Masterclass with my friends at Dermalogica. I’ve loved Dermalogica products for years: they’re worth the investment and work wonders for my skin!

They recently came out with their Retinol Clearing Oil, and I’ve been using that for about a month now. What I love about this product is that it is both anti-aging and anti-acne, which is the ideal type of product that I’m looking for in my 30’s. It does a fantastic job with my hormonal acne, and it is excellent for combatting my maskne as well. Make sure only to use this product at night, and that you wear sunscreen during the day if you’re using retinol!

During the day, I use the Dermalogica AGE Bright Clearing Serum: a product that debuted last year that I also love. I like to use this in the morning on my T-Zone (or any other areas prone to breakouts!) A little bit of this serum goes a long way, and these two products will be complete game-changers! 

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Find a Trusty Spot Treatment

Despite all of the preventative treatments you might be doing, maskne still might creep up on you. After all, it is summer, a good chunk of the country is pretty humid right now, and it’s easy for your pores to get clogged with the combination of your mask and this weather.

When all else fails, try a spot treatment to get rid of those stubborn breakouts. Most of my acne is super small, so I like using the AGE Bright Spot Fader on those tiny whiteheads. If I have a bigger pimple, I’ll opt for the Dr. Jart Focuspot™ Micro Tip Patches. These patches do a fantastic job of significantly reducing the size of a pimple in a few hours!

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A few other things you can do to prevent maskne? Make sure you exfoliate every night and try to use a good detox mask a few times a week. Make sure to be diligent about your nighttime skincare routine and always wash your face before bed to prevent any clogged pores!

Have you experienced face mask acne yet? Let me know in the comments below!

Photos by Tom McGovern

Leave a Comment


  1. Dana Mannarino wrote:

    Ooooh YES to the double cleanse! I’ve found it super helpful too.

    Dana | It’s Casual Blog 

    Posted 8.10.20 Reply