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How to Avoid Acne from Face Masks According to a Dermatologist

posted in: Featured, Skin Care
June 5, 2020

While the benefits of wearing a face mask are great, there’s one major downside that I’ve personally experienced: mask acne, or maskne.

I asked Elizabeth Mullans, M.D., Board-Certified Dermatologist at Uptown Dermatology in Houston, TX how to avoid acne from face masks, keep reading for her tips and drugstore skin care product recommendations!

Wash Your Face Before & After Wearing a Mask

Dr. Mullans’ first tip is to wash your face both before putting on your mask and after removing it. Your cloth mask grabs and holds on to bacteria, oils, and dirt from your face while, pressing it back onto your skin while you wear it. Dr. Mullans’ advises “using a fragrance free cleanser such as Cerave or Cetaphil.”

I’ve personally used the Cetaphil Gentle Daily Cleanser for years now, and it’s great for my combination acne-prone skin. Cerave has options depending on your skin type: their Hydrating Cleanser for normal-to-dry skin, or their Foaming Cleanser for normal-to-oily skin. Dr. Mullans recommends using a cleanser with salicylic acid if you are already acne-prone, like the Neutorgena Oil-Free Acne Wash.

Don’t Forget the Moisturizer

Using a face mask every day can help prevent irritation from your mask. Dr. Mullans suggests the fragrance-free version of the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream, but I personally prefer to use SPF moisturizers during the day time. Check out this post for my favorite drugstore sunscreens for the face.

Avoid Makeup Under Your Mask

Yep, it’s hard to admit being a makeup lover myself, but skipping makeup under your mask is the best way to keep your skin clear. Plus, ingredients in makeup can interfere with the effectiveness of the mask itself. “If you must use makeup, make sure it is noncomedogenic,” says Mullans. Noncomedogenic products are formulated so that they don’t clog your pores. Check out my favorite non-comedogenic drugstore foundations here.

Wash Your Masks Every Day

If you’re wearing a reusable cloth mask, it should be washed every day. It’s important to pay attention to what you’re washing your mask with, as well. Your normal laundry detergent may be fine for your clothes, but may be harsh for items worn on the face. “Because fragrances and dyes in detergents can leave residue on fabric which can cause irritation, use a hypoallergenic detergent such as Arm and Hammer Sensitive Skin Free and Clear,” suggests Mullans. I switch between N95 masks and cloth masks, and hand-wash my cloth masks in the sink with detergent. It takes less than 5 minutes, and I let it dry overnight.

Spot Treat Acne Breakouts

If you end up experiencing acne from your face mask despite your best efforts, Dr. Mullans recommends you “apply a gel that contains 2% salicylic acid or 2.5% benzoyl peroxide gel sparingly to the pimple one to two times daily.” Check out the Neutrogena On the Spot Acne Treatment (2.5% benzoyl peroxide) or the Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment (2% salicylic acid). For really stubborn pimples, I’ve had really good luck with the Zapzyt Acne Treatment, but that contains 10% benzoyl peroxide so may be strong for sensitive skin.

Have you experienced acne from face masks? Share your own tips in the comments!

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