Face Masks and Skin Issues — 5 Tips That Will Keep Your Skin Happy

Face masks have become the new norm

While it’s time to put 2020 in the past, unfortunately masks will be coming with us into the new year. In order to keep COVID-19 cases down, wearing masks will likely continue to be a necessity. But wearing a face mask every time we are in public has caused many people to experience “maskne,” or breakouts on the chin, cheeks, or bridge of the nose. 

Covering your skin for the majority of 2020 has likely caused some irritation and unwelcomed blemishes. This has left many of us wondering, is it possible to combat the dreaded maskne? Can I maintain clear skin AND wear CDC-recommended face masks? 

The answer in short form is: yes. However, you will need to implement a daily skincare routine and regular mask care. Your skin will thank you. 

1. Allow Your Skin to Breathe

Wearing face masks while grocery shopping, working, visiting a friend, or going to the doctor’s office has left our skin craving the fresh air it is used to. A regular mask break could help revive your skin. All you need to do is, when it’s safe, take your mask off and allow your skin to breathe. 

Safe places to do this could be your car, your home, your office, or outside when you are at least 6 feet away from other individuals. 

2. Cleanse Your Skin Daily

Face masks can cause your skin to get more dirtier quicker than normal. Cleansing your face will help keep your skin healthier.

This may sound like common sense but many have found their routines have been disrupted, whether you’re now working from home or if you’re an essential worker with a stressful and busy schedule. Finding time to cleanse your face at home or wipe your face with a cleansing facial wipe will help temporarily relieve your skin’s heightened stress. 

3. Mask Care

One of the most important ways to protect your skin is to make sure your mask is clean. The CDC recommends cleaning face masks daily after use and disposing of disposable masks after they are used once. 

Face mask care is especially important.Not planning on doing a load of laundry? No worries. Here’s a quick and effective way you can wash them in the sink: lather your mask with either soap or laundry detergent under running tap water and then hang to dry.

Another aspect of caring for your face masks is how and where to store them. Keeping unused ziploc bags on you while out and about will be super helpful. Any time your face mask gets dirty, you can store it in the ziploc bag until you are able to wash it. For storing clean, unused masks, you can use a breathable bag: mesh, cloth, or even a paper bag. Lastly, avoid placing your clean or dirty mask on dirty surfaces: the passenger seat of your car, throwing it in your purse, setting it on your desk, etc. Keeping your face mask clean will help keep your skin clean. 

4. Skip the Makeup

Adding a cloth layer to your face is disruptive enough. Adding an additional layer of makeup will clog your pores even more and will lead to additional break outs. If you can, avoid wearing skin products, or at the very least, switch to a light formula or even a tinted moisturizer. Allowing your skin to breathe is especially important when it’s covered during day-to-day activities. 

5. Avoid Touching Your Face

Think of how often your hands are used — to check your phone, to type that email, to flush the toilet, to adjust your hair — and think of how often you touch your face or adjust your mask. The less you do this, the better your skin will be. 

By incorporating these simple steps into your daily routine, your skin will feel rejuvenated. Finding the motivation during a pandemic can be challenging, so maybe even get some of your friends together and keep each other accountable. Another way is to set a daily reminder on your phone: “allow your skin to breathe!”, “don’t forget to wash your face after work,” “reminder to wash your face masks!” 

Advice from Dermatologists 

There have been many dermatologists that have been regularly providing tips and tricks during the pandemic on how to heal your irritated skin. Here are just a few of them: 

Listening to dermatologist's recommendations is especially important during these face mask times.

  • “Apply moisturizer before and after wearing a mask. Moisturizer can prevent problems, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin” —Carrie L. Kovarik, MD, FAAD
  • “Wear the mask when necessary, but remove it as soon as it is not necessary. Try to avoid prolonged stretches of mask wearing.” —Dr. Jaime Davis, MD
  • “To remove the mask, reach for the elastic bands or the ear band portion of the mask and face it away from you.” —Francisca Kartono, D.O. 
  • “Take ‘mask breaks’ as you’re able during the day. While on a break, wash your face with a mild cleanser like Cetaphil, which is available at grocery and drug stores. A Cetaphil wipe is even more discreet. That’s a good choice if you can’t easily get to a sink to wash with a cleanser and water. Let your face air dry before putting your mask back on. Consider having a backup mask with you so you can put on a fresh one.” —David Jonathan Dorenfeld, PA-C

Unsure Where to Start? Here are Dermatologist-Recommended Skincare Products

Face Wash


On-The-Go Skincare

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