Dr. Sandra Lee aka Dr. Pimple Popper wearing a mask treated with Salicylic Acid Body Spray for maskne prevention

How To Treat Maskne: Tips from Dr. Pimple Popper!

Whether it's for covid-19 or for work safety, wearing a face mask  takes its toll on our skin. With oil and sweat building up under the mask, skin is more susceptible to rashes, inflammation and breakouts. If masks are a must, Dr. Pimple Popper (aka Dr. Sandra Lee) is here with her tips on how to prevent maskne.


3 minute read

Most of us are all too familiar with the uncomfortable effects of covering the majority of our face for an extended period of time. Mask wearing — whether for CDC covid-19 precautions or for workplace related safety, has become a way of life.

But mask wearing takes its toll on our skin. With oil and sweat building up under the mask, skin is more susceptible to rashes, inflammation and breakouts. If masks are a must, these side effects don’t have to be. Dr. Sandra Lee is here with her advice to keep your skin happy and healthy, behind the mask.

 4 minute read

Stick to Cotton

Unless otherwise recommended or required, cotton masks are the way to go. Cotton is both comfortable and breathable, minimizing irritation for the skin. Make sure the mask is tight enough to avoid constant adjustments and sits close enough to the skin to create a skin-to-mask seal.

If wearing a cotton mask isn't an option, choose one that's designed to fit tightly around the edges, but doesn't sit directly on the rest of your skin.


Even if you have oily or acne-prone skin, a lightweight moisturizer is key to keeping your skin hydrated. With a mask rubbing against your skin, your skin barrier needs to remain balanced and healthy. SLMD Facial Moisturizer is lightweight and formulated with acne-prone skin in mind, blending nourishing ingredients with Vitamin C to brighten complexion.

Cleanse, Mask On, Mask Off, Cleanse

You’ve gotten into a hand-washing routine, but now it’s time for your face to get in on the action. Make sure you’re cleansing your skin right before you put your mask on and right after you take it off.

Stick to your SPF!

Take note: masks do not replace sunscreen. UV rays can still damage your skin through your clothes and, yes — your mask. To kill two birds with one stone, opt for a moisturizer with SPF, like SLMD Dual Defender SPF 30. This lightweight moisturizer acts as a broad-spectrum sunscreen, but also contains antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E and green tea extract to hydrate the skin.

Skip the makeup

One benefit to CDC’s recommendations — the mask covers your breakouts, so you don’t have to! While this is a great time to embrace a no makeup lifestyle, at the very least, focus your makeup-application to areas around your mask. With the increased humidity around the skin beneath the mask, makeup could lead to clogged pores and breakouts. Keeping your pores clear is absolutely essential to under-the-mask skincare, and makeup will only worsen any budding inflammation or breakouts.

Dr. Lee's go-to maskne hacks

  • Keep SLMD AHA/BHA Swipes in the car/on the go. Swipe your skin right before you put on your mask and right after. These pre-loaded pads are loaded with salicylic, glycolic, and lactic acids to exfoliate your skin, keeping your pores clear and your skin glowy.
  • Spray the inside of your mask with SLMD Salicylic Acid Body Spray. This spray stops the buildup of dirt, oil, and debris that can cause acne. Before putting on your mask, give the inside a quick spritz and fan it out until it's dry. This will keep the skin underneath clean and prevent your pores from getting clogged with oil or dirt.
Maskne before and after photo using SLMD Acne System

Be kind to your breakouts

Treat maskne breakouts how you normally would — with some much needed TLC. Dr. Lee recommends using a face wash with salicylic acid, like SLMD Salicylic Acid Cleanser, which removes dirt, dead skin cells and oil from your pores to prevent breakouts. If you're on a road trip or want to keep a small cleanser on you so there's no way to drop the ball on your skin - there's also a 2 oz. Salicylic Acid Cleanser, at the ready.

For stubborn pimples, use spot treatments which have stronger percentages of acne-fighting ingredients. Dr. Lee recommends using SLMD Salicylic Acid Spot Treatment for blackheads and whiteheads and BP Acne Spot Treatment for inflammatory pimples. To protect pimples underneath your mask, try Salicylic Acid Pimple Patches.

For long-term prevention of breakouts, a consistent acne regimen is so important! SLMD Acne System has 3 steps, morning and night, that will provide your skin with everything it needs to combat future breakouts and treat existing ones. It includes the Salicylic Acid Cleanser we mentioned earlier, Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Lotion which treats inflammatory acne by day, Retinol Resurfacing Serum which evens complexion by night, and finally the Facial Moisturizer to hydrate your skin.

Dr. Lee's last word

Maskne is a catchy name for what we dermatologists call acne mechanica: it's a type of acne caused by friction and irritation. Fortunately, we can manage it by incorporating acne fighting ingredients into our routine and giving our skin a little extra attention.

—Dr. Sandra Lee


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