Acne and Long Term Mask Wearing


One of the unfortunate outcomes of the wide spreading wearing of masks throughout the day has been the negative effect on our skin.  The constant contact of the mask materials on our face, both to the front and sides, has resulted in a series of breakouts, blemishes and irritations to our skin.  Thanks COVID-19!


What is the likely cause?

The skin is our body’s largest organ.  And, it is the first protective layer of our immune system.  That’s right, the body’s immune system, largely found in our GI system, starts with a strong protective skin layer.  The constant rubbing, irritation and just contact of the mask components with our skin begin to break down that skin layer.  This breakdown causes two problems:  First, it begins to reduce the effectiveness of our hydration so that our skin becomes more brittle and more easily damaged.  Second, it causes physical damage to that layer, also making it easier for pathogens to enter our bodies.  

For those of us with chronic skin conditions that are well managed like rosacea or even melasma, this newfound, daily skin irritation can make those conditions worse. 

Not only the mask itself, but how well (or not) that mask fits to our face.  A mask that is too tight also challenges our skin with constant excess pressure making it less resilient to daily use.  


What to do.

The first and most important step for your daily preparation in wearing a mask for hours each day is to apply a good cleanser to your face before putting your mask on.  Ensure that your skin is clean and dry and apply a good moisturizer that includes hyaluronic acid to reduce the effects of irritation.

Our shop has a wealth of skin care options for you to consider.  Hopefully, we will all be able to return to only short term mask-wearing sooner rather than later.  But, until then, check out or shop for a range of options for every skin type.


What to Buy

Emilee Satterfield, Esthetician at ReNew Integrated Medical Spa recommends Image Ormedic Balancing Cleanser ($32) or IS Clinical Cleansing complex ($44).  Both of these provided great cleansing properties without harming your skin’s protective barrier.  This is important when avoiding the skin problems related to wearing protective face masks.  These cleansers are great multitaskers even for sensitive skin.  

Hyaluronic Acid is a great way to provide instant moisture and protection to your skin.  Skinmedica’s HA5 ($178) truly works well with all other products and serves as a great barrier to protect the skin from face mask chafing.  Kearston Allen, ReNew Esthetician says, “I also like IS Clinical Reparative Moisture Emulsion to provide hydration and protection.”  Shop Clinical Reparative Emulsion for only $95 here.

If your job or lifestyle requires you to wear a facemask for 8+ hours per day, you might consider avoiding makeup under your mask and opting for a protective moisturizer like those listed above.  At the very least, we recommend only using a pure mineral makeup like GloSkinBeauty.  A tinted moisturizer like elta MD UV Elements ($34) and tinted broad spectrum SPF 44 are also important.  This is a moisturizing sunscreen with hyaluronic acid.  It provides mild coverage without clogging pores or increasing inflammation.

For some people Retinol can also help to curb “maskne” breakouts, but Retinol is also an ingredient that can be sensitizing to the skin.  Products with retinyl esters that convert to retinol on a time release on contact with the skin will help avoid irritation or sensitivity. IMAGE MD Restoring overnight Retinol Masque ($94) contains a time-released retinol with plant based peptides and phytoactive lipids that will combat the signs of acne without irritation. Use it at night consistently to help avoid “maskne” breakouts.


If you have any questions, just give us a call at 903-255-6398.