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Is Maskne Real?

Updated: Jun 23, 2022

The answer: Yes!

Thanks to COVID, Mask-ne is here!

Carleton University’s Midweek radio show interviewed our Dermatologist, @drannieliu, to get the inside scoop.

Their interview aired recently on @CKCU; an audio clip can be found below starting at 16:30:

Medically, Maskne is called acne mechanica, and refers to skin irritation excess pressure, heat, and rubbing against the skin.

Fun fact: prior to COVID, we saw it in athletes or healthcare works who wore tight gear.

What Causes It?

Anything that blocks the skin up, whether it’s a mask or a poor quality sunscreen, will trap sweat and oil which then block up hair follicles and cause skin bacteria to flourish. Add in the humidity and you’ve got a perfect recipe for breakouts. Masks can both worsen skin issues that already exist or cause new ones.

How Can I Prevent It?


  • 🧴Streamline your routine. Focus on using a quality cleanser and moisturizer on a daily basis

  • 🧴 Skip the makeup, which can act as another “mask” on your skin. If makeup is necessary, use only products labeled “non-comedogenic” or “oil free.”

  • 🧴 Avoid certain products that can irritate your skin: Leave-on salicylic acid, Retinoids and Aftershave. Wearing a mask for even a short time can make your skin more sensitive


  • 😷 Look for masks that offer

    • ✔️ A snug, but comfortable fit

    • ✔️ Soft, natural, and breathable fabric, such as cotton

    • ❌ Avoid synthetic fabrics, such as nylon, polyester, and

  • 😷 When safe to do so, take a 15-minute mask break every 4 hours. Safe places to remove your mask include:

    • ✔️ Outdoors, when you can stay at least 6 feet away from people

    • ✔️ Inside your car when you’re alone

    • ✔️ At home

  • 😷 Wash your cloth masks after each use if possible to remove oils and skin cells that collect inside the mask.


  • Notably, if inflammatory acne is left untreated, it can leave permanent scars.

  • Book a virtual visit with a DermCafé Dermatologist from your couch!

  • Check out the Acne Collection at the DermCafé Shop

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