Maskne, it is real and it is really ruining people's skin and self confidence. Top tips on how to prevent and treat it.

Maskne. Yes it is real. Yes it is unpleasant and yes it can be managed and treated with some simple steps and products. Once you understand why maskne is happening to your skin and prevent certain conditions you can help limit the effects of this unpleasant  skin condition. Firstly what is maskne and why is it happening to your skin?

Woman wearing face mask

What is Maskne?

Maskne is any skin irritation which is caused by wearing a face mask. In some people it presents similar to acne, red, sore bumps some filled with pus. In others it may present as irritated patches, dry and red, similar to dermatitis. In both cases this can be sore, itchy and very, very irritating. However, wearing a face mask is necessary for many who work in healthcare and for all of us when shopping and taking part in other situations such as using public transport.

Why does the skin react in this way to wearing a face mask?

When you wear any item over your facial skin you create conditions where your skin will find it difficult to shed skin cells, moisture will build up and bacteria will gather. If your mask doesn't fit quite right you will have chafing and rubbing which will cause irritation. All of these situations are not very good for facial skin but when you understand these two situations it can make it easier to firstly prevent maskne and also treat it.

What steps should you take to treat maskne?

Acne type Maskne

If you find that maskne is presenting similar to acne and you tend to have oily or combination skin you need to make sure that you clear your skin of dead skin cells which clog pores and cause those unpleasant red bumps. This can be done with gentle exfoliation with a product containing salycilic acid which works to unclog pores by penetrating through the upper layers of skin to really break down dead skin cells. Cleansers with salycilic acid work well as you can get the benefit of cleansing whilst exfoliating rather than needing to buy a cleanser and a salycilic acid based serum.

Next comes moisturising. If you are wearing a mask all day and have oily or combination skin you should moisturise with light products. A hydrating essence or serum with hyaluronic acid after cleansing and before moisturiser is essential. Follow this with a light moisturiser or light facial oil serum. Light oils which are non-comedogenic such as hemp seed oil, rosehip oil and squalane work well to seal in hydration after hyaluronic acid and moisturise without being too heavy. Save your richer moisturisers for the evening after you have taken your mask off.

Irritated, dry skin type Maskne

If your skin tends to be more on the dry side and maskne is presenting as dry, irritated patches your first port of call should be to check your mask to ensure it fits correctly to prevent chafing which may be causing your skin irritation. Secondly rule out any sensitivity to the actual material your mask is made of or sensitivity to the detergent you wash your mask in. Also, if you use disposable masks make sure you dispose of them after use. 

After you have sorted out these potential issues it is time to look at your skincare routine to see if any steps can be taken to alleviate the problem. Firstly, make sure you are using a gentle, perfume and alcohol free cleanser and one which will moisturise as well as cleanse. Next comes hydration and moisturisation. As with acne type maskne, hyaluronic acid essence or serum will work to hold in hydration whilst preventing clogged pores and finally end with moisturiser or balm to act as a barrier between your skin and your mask. 

Top 10 tips for Maskne prone skin

  1. Check your mask's fit to prevent movement which may result in chaffing and irritation.
  2. Make sure you don't have a sensitivity to the material in the mask or the detergent you wash your mask in.
  3. If safe to do so remove your mask when you can with sanitised hands to allow your skin to breathe and dampness to evaporate.
  4. Carry a cotton or muslin handkerchief, and if safe, remove your mask and dry your skin. Wash your handkerchief every day along with your mask
  5. Oily or combination skin should use a cleanser with salycilic acid to unclog pores and break down dead skin cells.
  6. Dry, irritated skin should use a gentle cleansing balm to wash every morning and after removing mask.
  7. Hyaluronic acid essence or serum is a must as a light, non-comedogenic skin hydrating product
  8. Oily skin types should consider a light, non-comedogenic facial oil serum to seal in hydration but prevent clogged pores.
  9. Dry skin types should consider a moisturising balm to act as a emollient or barrier between skin and mask.
  10. Avoid wearing makeup under your mask. Try a little under eye concealer and eye makeup, no one will see the bottom half of your face anyway! If you feel you must wear makeup try light non pore clogging makeup such as BB cream or light skin highlighters.

Ultimately, if your maskne becomes severe or does not respond to the tips listed above a trip to your doctor may be required where a medicated cream may be necessary to clear up your skin issue. 

Products to consider

Cleanser and Moisturising Balm for dry irritated skin

Keegan & Co. Moisturising + Cleansing Balm. Excellent as a moisturising cleanser and as a balm for use before you put your mask on. Perfume free, gentle but powerful this dual use product will clear away sweat and dead skin cells and act as a emollient barrier to soothe dryness and irritation.

 Keegan & Co. Moisturising + Cleansing Balm

Keegan & Co. Moisturising + Cleansing Balm: €24.99 (100 ml, 3 to 6 months use)

Cleanser for oily / combination skin

2% Salycilic acid cleanser

Skingredients Sally Cleanse (100ml) is a 2% salicylic acid cleanser, the highest amount of salicylic acid permitted in a skincare product in the EU. Sally helps to clear pores and reduce congestion such as lumps, bumps, whiteheads and blackheads, while encouraging the skin to exfoliate itself. This product is quite potent and should be used every 3rd night. This is also made by an Irish company with an amazing Irish female founder, Jennifer Rock aka the skin nerd! So not only are you supporting an other Irish company but another Irish Female entrepreneur.

Sally Cleanse

Skingredients Sally Cleanse: €27.00 (100 ml)

Hydration for both skin types

Keegan & Co. Treatment Essence with Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid is perfect for use after cleansing by those with oily, combination and dry skin. As it is light but intensely hydrating it won't clog pores before applying your mask. Papaya enzymes also act to clear dead skin cells whilst jasmine, neroli and rose water soothe skin and prevent irritation.


Treatment Essence with Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid: €39.99 (50 ml, 2 months use)

Moisturiser / Skin Serum for Both skin types

Keegan & Co. Bakuchiol Skin Renewal Night Serum combines light, non-comedogenic oils designed to moisturise and seal in hydration. Bakuchiol also acts like retinol to encourage skin cell turn over without the irritation of retinol. Apply this after cleansing and applying our treatment essence. Can be used day and night.


Keegan & Co. Bakuchiol Skin Renewal Night Serum: €31.99 (30 ml, 2 months use)

 We'd love to hear your thoughts on maskne. Do you suffer from this irritating condition? What have you tried that works? 


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