What is “Maskne”?

As if Acne Wasn’t Enough of a Problem on its Own  What is “Maskne”?

Daphne Shi 
K-Beauty Editor

Honestly, this pandemic is just piling on a bunch of unnecessary first world problems creating more minor inconveniences for Gen X, Gen Z and millennials alike that no one wanted or asked for.

Can’t go to brunch? 
Can’t celebrate your 21st birthday? 
Oh no. 
Breaking out from wearing a face mask? 
Okay, now that’s crossing the line.

Are you telling me that after my entire 10 step skincare routine, how dare you jeopardise that and still break out? It is what it is, and it’s a daily struggle we need to face whether we like it or not. 

With further coronavirus outbreaks in Australian states, mandating face coverings is obviously required when stepping outside our homes. With the use of a mask, a lot of us are now faced with a new problem – “maskne” or mask-related acne. Ditching the mask is clearly not going to be an option, Karen, so here’s how we prevent maskne from happening.

How does “maskne” occur? 


Maskne is affecting a fair few of us due to the long hours of wearing face masks on the daily at work or running errands, making us break out around our cheeks and chin area. Through the hot, humid moisture, oil and sweat build-up accumulated through breathing into our facial fashion pieces, it is literally setting up camp for bacteria and yeast to thrive. Through the rubbing between the mask and your skin causing micro-tears, it allows for an easy entry for bacterial infestation and clogged pores, causing further irritation, leading to these maskne breakouts and flare-ups. 

How to prevent it?

Let’s start with an obvious answer – change your mask frequently! Change your face mask after each day, or when necessary after sweating or exercising. If it’s a reusable mask, chuck it in the wash using fragrance-free detergent (very important!). Dermatologists have also been recommending 100% cotton masks as it allows your skin to breathe a bit. Essentially, change your face mask as often as you change underwear and lord Jesus, I hope you are doing that on a daily. 

Next, we know you want to stay diligent to that 10-step skincare routine day and night, but we’ll have to press pause on that one. Avoid thick, occlusive moisturisers and opt for a lighter, water/gel-based lotion. This way, it can still act as a protective barrier and prevent chafing between your skin and the mask.


What to do if you end up getting it?

The next steps to take are investing in a good cleanser or spot cream to calm down the skin – pay attention to particular ingredients such as Centella Asiatica (covered by a previous article) and salicylic acid (BHA). We would recommend the COSRX AC Collection Calming Foam Cleanser or the Dr. Belmeur Clarifying Spot Calming Ampoule as a spot treatment which contains both centalla asiatica and salicylic acid. 

Other options include over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide as a spot treatment. Start with low dosages such as 2.5-5% concentration but beware that it may stain the fabric of your mask and if you currently use retinol, use it on alternating nights. 

Otherwise, consider a little TLC by skin-caring and masking for a strengthened skin resilience and detox with vitamin C, clay masks, sleeping masks, AHA/BHA and sheet masks. 

As mentioned before, it is recommended to use lighter skincare products under the face mask such as using a lightweight toner, essence and moisturiser that aren’t too occlusive. 

AM Skincare


AM Essence

The I’m From Mugwort Essence is a layer-able, effective, redness-reducing product. This essence is one of a kind, comprising of one ingredient – 100% slow extracted mugwort extract from Ganghwa. You read that right. 100%. It totals one ingredient. Mugwort helps to detoxify, calm and soothe the skin and is suitable for all skin types, in particular those with acne, or irritated and sensitised skin. 


AM Gel

There are fantastic options for a lightweight gel to be used in the daytime under the mask. The Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel stars two main ingredients, Aloe Vera and Propolis (duh), known to promote hydration, soothe and reduce inflammation.


Similar in texture, there’s the Benton Goodbye Redness Centella Gel infused with 80% centalla asiatica extract that reduces the appearance of redness while fortifying the skin barrier. Other botanical ingredients such as Houttuynia Cordata and Tea Tree are also present to aid, nourish and hydrate, leaving your skin clearer and stronger. 

Troubled, congested and irritated skin will appreciate these goodies and maintain the skin’s hydration levels throughout the day.

PM Skincare


PM Toner

With a blend of AHA, BHA and PHA, we present the Purito ABP Triple Synergy Liquid safe to be used daily to assist with skin regeneration and skin cell turnover. This is a gentle toner effective enough to work as a chemical exfoliant. As someone with sensitive skin, I would have immediately closed the tab as soon as I read the title of the product. All 3 of the big guns in one product? Damn, it must be intense! However, after conducting further research, this is safe and suitable even for those with sensitive skin types. This product removes dead skin, hydrates without leaving it feeling tight and treats sensitive skin without irritation, this can all be thanks to its slightly acidic, EWG safe grade formula.

PM Serum

Formulated with 5%, stabilised Vitamin C, Dear Klair’s Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop provides a highly effective brightening product that will fade acne hyperpigmentation, even the skin tone while also reducing visible fine lines.

PM Cream

This gentle cream gets its beautiful blue colour due to the presence of Guaiazulene, a plant-based component extracted from Chamomile Oil that has a mesmerising, natural violet colour which helps calm redness, soothe sunburns, eczema and strengthen the skin barrier. Centella Asiatica Extract stimulates skin cell regeneration and prevents scarring. 

PM Bonus

COSRX Pure Fit Cica powder
Add the COSRX Pure Fit Cica Powder to your cleanser, toner, one step pad, serum, cream or sheet mask, mix and apply for a super-charged boost to your soothing, healing, protecting and strengthening game. It’s enriched with 11,000 PP of Pure Fit Cica-7 Complex, 2500ppm of Green calamine and natural Clorella Power to directly calm red, inflamed spots and promote the recovery of blemishes and breakouts. Discover your inner scientist and customise your love for Cica to your desire and need. Definitely one of the more fun skincare products on the market. Grab your skincare, get mixing!

PM Masks

Mugwort Mask
Unlike the I’m From Mugwort Essence, the I’m From Mugwort Mask contains a couple more ingredients. It is a wash-off face mask that is highly concentrated with plant extracts that is rich in minerals and vitamins. It is known to restore youthful skin and has amazing calming and detoxifying properties. This healing Mugwort Mask is also gentle enough to be used daily. The result is soothed skin that feels more refreshed and renewed. Now, doesn’t that sound nice.

Mediheal Tea Tree 
Popularised even before the BTS rage, the Mediheal Tea Tree Sheet Mask has always been a fan favourite. Its highly concentrated formulation of natural materials helps to restore unbalanced skin to become healthier and resistant to stress. Formulated with Tea tree leaf oil and Centella Asiatica Extract, to moisturise and relax the skin, it is a mask worth picking up. 

If a rash or itchiness forms, it might not be about acne but rather contact dermatitis. This is due an irritation towards the fabric or dye of the mask. It is best to visit your dermatologist for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

If after pursuing all these options with no successful results, the source of the problem could possibly be from elsewhere. Consider your recent increase in stress levels or change in diet. Unfortunately, as much as we would like to instantaneously wind down our cortisol levels, that doesn’t exist (maybe momentarily while scrolling through puppy TikToks). However, consuming highly sugary foods and dairy items is in your control and might be the trigger to your adult acne. Put the chocolate and chips down sis, avoid processed snacks and try substitute your coffee with almond or soymilk. Look on the bright side. If anything, take comfort that by wearing a mask you’re saving by only using makeup on half your face now and at least the mask is hiding the problem. 

Anyhow, keep the mask on. I honestly would rather pay a visit to the dermo for my acne problem than the ICU. If you end up with coronavirus, your acne will be the least of your worries. 

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