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

You’ve been wearing your trusty cloth mask and doing your part to curb the spread of COVID-19. But what about your skin? You may already be noticing the uncomfortable effects of covering the majority of your face for an extended period of time. With oil and sweat building up under the mask, your skin is more susceptible to rashes, inflammation and breakouts. 

In the past few months, masks have quickly become a staple of daily life. In accordance with the CDC’s most recent recommendations, you should be wearing a cloth face covering any time you’re in public. The fashion industry has risen to the occasion, offering a variety of masks to suit your style, and many Americans are opting to make their own, personalized masks. Now it’s time to take care of the skin the mask covers. Masks are a must, but 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!

Stick to Cotton

All masks are not created equal. The CDC advises the American public to wear cloth face coverings rather than surgical masks to ensure that hospitals are well equipped with supplies. When looking for masks (or making your own), cotton is 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.


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’s 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.

Dr. Lee's go-to maskne hacks include:

  • Keeping SLMD’s Resurfacing Acne Swipes in the car/on the go and swiping your skin right before you put on your mask and right after. These pre-loaded pads are loaded with Salicylic, Glycolic, and Lactic Acid to exfoliate your skin, keeping your pores clear and your skin glowy. 
  • Spraying the inside of your mask with SLMD's 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.

 Stick to your SPF!

On that 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’s Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15. 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. A great option for light, natural skin coverage is SLMD’s UV Bounce. This broad-spectrum mineral powder comes in 3 adaptable shades to provide light, natural skin coverage while protecting the skin from UV rays. Try to focus this powder on areas around the mask, and use a non-pigmented sunscreen for the skin beneath the 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. 

Be Kind to your Breakouts

The combination of COVID-related anxiety and mask regulations will inevitably take a toll on your skin. Treat these breakouts how you normally would — with some much needed TLC. Dr. Lee recommends using a face wash with Salicylic Acid, like SLMD’s 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’s Salicylic Acid Spot Treatment for blackheads and whiteheads and SLMD’s BP Spot Treatment for inflammatory pimples. 

For long-term prevention of breakouts, a consistent acne regimen is so important! SLMD’s 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, the BP Lotion which treats inflammatory acne by day, the Retinol Serum which evens complexion by night, and finally the Facial Moisturizer to hydrate your skin!

You’re making an effort to protect yourself and others, and now, with these tips, you can protect your skin too!


Shop The Article