Maybe this is the first time you’re seeing them pop up unannounced, or perhaps you’re used to them only making an appearance once a month—but if you’re experiencing breakouts around your mouth and on your chin, it might have everything to do with the face mask you’ve been wearing. Yep, even that Golden Girls-inspired one that gets all the compliments. It’s called “maskne,” and it’s not fun, fair, or even remotely what we like to see in the mirror. Pests of the utmost devilish degree.
For those prone to blemishes, it might seem worse than usual. For those who usually have clear skin, it can be surprising. Either way, your current routine might not cut it anymore, for the time being at least. Instead, you can try to implement this pared-down “maskne” routine aimed at helping clear your skin. And most importantly, to keep those pesky pests away. Start by incorporating the products recommended below slowly into your usual regimen—not all at once!—and find what works for you.
Start double cleansing
This ensures you’re getting rid of all the sweat, gunk, makeup, and bacteria that’s been festering under your mask. Start with an oil cleanser—like cult classic DHC Deep Cleansing Oil—that acts as a first step. Plus, it melts makeup away like a charm. Then move onto a gentle foaming cleanser fortified with salicylic acid like CeraVe’s Renewing SA Cleanser that won’t strip your skin.
Add in a clay mask
Following any long day wearing your mask—or about two to three times a week—incorporate a clay mask into your routine after cleansing. Feel free to focus on problem areas (around the mouth and on the chin) instead of your whole face for less mess and targeted treatment. For this, an affordable option with simple ingredients works the best, like a tub of Cetaphil Pro Purifying Clay Mask. It’s formulated with bentonite clay and other skin barrier-protecting ingredients to ensure it’s non-irritating for sensitive skin.
Choose your morning serum wisely
The morning is a great time to squeeze in vitamin C—an antioxidant ingredient that brightens skin and protects your barrier from environmental stressors like, oh I don’t know, a mask—as well as gentle chemical exfoliation. We recommend the holy grail of morning serums for “maskne:” Olehenrikson’s Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum that also comes equipped with PHAs (the gentlest of exfoliants) and hyaluronic acid to ensure your skin stays hydrated despite the active ingredients. A bottle will last you six months, at least, so it’s worth the splurge.
Repair your skin overnight
This is also the perfect time to stay true to your retinol or start using one if you never have before. Our favorite affordable serum right now is the Olay Regenerist 24 Night Facial Serum, which should be layered after cleansing and before moisturizing. Seal it all in with a calming moisturizer packed with barrier-supporting ceramides to help your skin healthily turn over and renew overnight. This is where splurging is absolutely acceptable: Sunday Riley’s Ice Ceramide Moisturizing Cream feels so addictingly decadent and comforting on your face, and our beauty editor swears by it.
Prep your mask for success
So there's one mask acne-busting trick out there right now, and it is meant to combat the source: the mask itself. Simply purchase a facial spray with salicylic acid like this one and spray the interior of your mask (which is hopefully already clean) before heading out. Some recommend even spritzing the lower half of your face, as well; but we'd say skip that step, because it can be too drying for many skin types.
Stick with this routine—starting with double cleansing and clay masking for a week or so before moving on—and that “maskne” doesn’t stand a chance. Find all the products to shop below.
DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
Literally watch your makeup melt away—and no, using oil to cleanse will not make you break out more. A little goes a very long way.
Shop It: $28; ulta.com
CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser
Gentle, non-drying, and non-irritating, this drugstore cleanser gets a little boost of breakout-busting potential from salicylic acid.
Shop It: $13.99; ulta.com
Cetaphil Pro Purifying Clay Mask
Apply to your entire face or just the chin twice a week—and especially after a full day of wearing your mask.
Shop It: $11.95; amazon.com
Olehenrikson Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum
This serum gets all your morning skin care done in one—with vitamin C, PHAs, and hyaluronic acid.
Shop It: $65; sephora.com
Olay Regenerist 24 Night Facial Serum
Retinol is known to reduce appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but it also benefits blemish-prone skin due to increasing cell-turnover overnight for brighter, healthier skin overall.
Shop It: $38.99; ulta.com
Sunday Riley Ice Ceramide Moisturizing Cream
Ceramides reinforce your skin barrier, which is necessary when using active ingredients in your routine, while keeping your skin healthy and hydrated.
Shop It: $65; sephora.com
Paula's Choice CLEAR Acne Body Spray
This formula is made with an effective enough ratio—2% salicylic acid!—to work well on your mask fabric.
Shop It: $25; amazon.com