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Beat the breakout! 11 tips to banish maskne

Hate what masks are doing to your skin - or got a teen worried about wearing one all day now they're back at school? Read this.

Face masks may still be a must-have but the spots are an unwanted accessory. The struggle with ‘Maskne’ is real, so we called the experts to find out how to banish the breakouts.

Over to Kay Adams (left with therapist Sophie), owner of The Retreat Beauty Salon in Barnstaple and therapist for over 19 years.

1/ Know the enemy

Since July 2020, we’ve been seeing more and more people walking through our doors with irritated sore, chafed skin around their mouth, nose, cheeks, chin and jawline.

Maskne (mask acne) is a type of ‘mechanica acne’ caused by increased heat and friction to the surrounding skin and pressure. Masks rubbing and breath caught behind the mask increases humidity and temperature and increased sweating and oil results in clogging. The warm, moist environment is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and inflamed and infected breakouts.

2/Clean your mask every day

Clean mask equals clean face so it’s got to be either a freshly laundered one or a clean disposable. Use a 40c wash and if you are sensitive to washing powder just use the one that’s suitable for you. 

3/Ditch the make up

Well, okay not all of it – you can keep the eye make-up but you could try reducing or even better skipping the make-up under your mask altogether.

4/ Don’t stress out!

Easier said than done, I know, but it makes a huge difference to your skin. If you’re already dealing with a breakout stress slows down wound healing by up to 40%. Chronic stress increases hormone levels which in turn causes increased oil production and persistent low-grade acne. Less screen time, yoga/meditation will all help, as will cutting back on sugary and high carb foods.

5/ Follow your cycle

Premenstrual acne affects a whopping 78% of women so taking extra care of your skin in the lead up to your cycle or scheduling a treatment can really help.

6/ How to help teens

Teens can be hard to help because they want perfect skin yesterday! Add to that raging hormones, frustration, tonnes of make-up if they’re girls and the pressure of looking good, especially on socials.

Teens need a structured, strict skincare routine with patience, time and commitment. Everything above is true for teens but some of the products below may be too much for their skin, so I’d recommend the Clear Start range which is designed for 10-21 year olds. A lot of our teens have the Dermalogica Pro30 facial as it’s quick, and affordable for the bank of mum and dad, and we can address a lot in those 30 minutes.

Parents can be a big support by making that first appointment and although the initial layout seems scary, it’s well worth it. Dermalogica products go a long way – little and often!

Being honest with teens and giving them realistic expectations is important. They can experience fantastic results and then get a flare-up which can lead to disappointment and giving up. Make sure they keep going, have a good balanced diet, reduce sugar, plenty of water and good sleep. Oh and less screen time!

7/ Know your ingredients

Introduce some daily products into your skincare: salicylic acid and phytic acid are your best friends. Vitamin B5 (aka Panthenol) promotes skin healing. Also, if your skin is oily, Niacinamide is good for reducing sebaceous secretions. It’s also anti-inflammatory so perfect for on-spot treatment to dry out pesky breakouts and reduce any hyperpigmentation marks they leave behind.

8/ Double cleanse

I often hear clients they only cleanse once a day – if they remember and they sleep in their make-up! (Teens are often terrible culprits.) But a lack of cleansing will obviously only increase blackheads and fuel breakouts.

I always tell my clients to double cleanse. The first cleanse is about removing what’s on the skin, like make-up, pollution, dust and free radicals, then the second is actually cleansing the skin and pores.

A cleansing facial wash with salicylic acid is fantastic as it is reduces pore clogging and is anti-inflammatory. Dermalogica’s Clearing Skin Wash is ideal.


Gentle regular exfoliation helps, provided you’re not experiencing dermatitis, eczema or chafing sores. Exfoliators with AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) or BHA (beta hydroxy acid) are your skin’s best friend as they peel away at the skin surface and are much less aggressive than a textured exfoliator. My pick would be Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant as it’s gentle enough to use every day.

10/ Say hello to H20

Keep skin hydrated with a light mattifying moisturiser to improve your skin’s barrier function and protect it from water loss. Drink more water too!

11/ Call in the professionals

A skin consultation is the best way to start to discuss any concerns, your skincare needs and this allows us to recommend a suitable treatment plan along with at-home products to maintain and complement professional treatment results.

We’ll be starting our best-selling Dermalogica Pro60 and Pro Power Peel treatments again on Tuesday 13 April with online bookings available from 5 April.

The Retreat Beauty Salon, 13 Cross St, Barnstaple EX31 1BD Tel: 01271 378399.

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