Are Masks Making Your Skin Gross? Experts Say These 15 Little Things Can Help A Lot

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We’re well in the throes of the Omicron surge, and many areas have re-upped their face mask requirements. That means maskne is also making a comeback, much to the chagrin of, well, everyone. It’s not just acne, though. Wearing masks for extended periods of time can just generally make your skin and lips look and feel dry, irritated, dull, and just plain gross.

Unlike the early stages of the virus, now we have to negotiate wearing masks out in public for a short and long periods of time, when working, dining at restaurants, or shopping. Even when you understand the importance of mask wearing for health reasons, attempting to prep your skin and makeup for the constantly putting on and taking off of a mask can be a nightmare.

Luckily, some skin experts have come through with all their tips for keeping your face fabulous while staying protected. Whether you’re suffering from dryness, breakouts, oil, or irritation, they have the answers. For a deep cleanse that will clear any and all bacteria from your pores after a long day, try this dermatologist-recommended benzoyl peroxide cleanser. Or if dryness is your issue, this rich cocoa butter balm that a celebrity esthetician swears by is sure to heal chapped lips. Take in their advice and incorporate these products into your skincare routine so you can show up anywhere feeling confident about your skin looks and feels, regardless of masks.


The Best-Selling Cleanser That Won’t Strip Your Skin’s Moisture

A good cleanser is your first line of defense against the bacteria and gunk that can build up on your skin, mask or no. Mila Davis, an esthetician at Skin to Smile, says, “CeraVe facial cleanser is a terrific product that meets the demands of sensitive skin, oily skin, dry skin, and combination skin.” Their hydrating facial cleanser in particular is a creamy, fragrance-free cleanser that removes makeup, dirt, and oil without removing necessary moisture. It’ll help you control breakouts as well as restore and maintain your skin’s natural barrier.


A Cleansing Mud Mask That Reduces Inflammation

Regular treatments like masking can also help combat the symptoms of, well, regular masking. Davis likes the Dead Sea Mud Mask from NewYorkBiology, which contains mineral mud from the actual Dead Sea, as well as aloe vera, vitamin E, and jojoba oil to exfoliate and remove excess oil, toxins, and dry skin cells. “[It] is a terrific product that can help cleanse the skin, minimize pore size, and reduce skin inflammation,” she explains.


This Fast-Acting Spot Treatment That Eliminates Tough Zits

To treat particularly difficult pimples, Davis recommends using La Roche Posay effaclar duo dual action acne spot treatment cream. “Topical acne gel works by removing surface bacteria to resolve a break out, however it can be very drying and should only be used as a spot treatment,” she notes. This particular treatment uses benzoyl peroxide and lipo-hydroxy acid to cleans and exfoliate your pores, but adds a bit of hydration back in through glycerin, a smart addition that helped this get a 4.5-star rating on Amazon.


This Hard-Working Stick That’s Perfect For Dry Lips, Faces & Hands

There’s nothing I love more than a multi-tasking skincare solution, and that’s exactly what Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Swivel Stick is. Taylor Worden, a celebrity esthetician and founder of Taylor Worden Skin, recommends it for your lips but this works just as well on dry skin and cuticles. Cocoa butter, shea butter, and vitamin E work hard together to moisturize and nourish your skin.


These Pimple Patches That Are A Secret Weapon Under Your Mask

Pimple patches like these are superheroes in my skincare regimen. They significantly reduce even the most gnarly zits practically overnight. If you’ve got a breakout in progress, Worden advises wearing one under your mask. It provides a barrier to prevent your pimple from worsening, while the hydrocolloid heals your blemishes when they’re out of sight and out of mind.


Some Cloth Masks That You Can Swap Mid-Day For Acne Prevention

Bring a few of these reusable cloth masks with you wherever you go to keep your face feeling fresh throughout the day. Sarah Akram, a celebrity master esthetician, suggests swapping your mask out mid-day to prevent trapped bacteria from continuing to spread. “[A] helpful tip to reduce your maskne flare ups is to change your mask at least once throughout the day,” she says. “Seems a bit extra — I know, but after lunch for example, that’s a prefect time to swap in a fresh mask to avoid extra buildup.” These soft, polyester masks are made comfortably for extended wear with a nose clip, reinforced seams, and adjustable loop to fit your face.


An Organic Toner For Conditioned, Balanced Skin

Dr. Dendy Engelman, award-winning board-certified New York City dermatologist, suggests sticking to a classic to combat mask-related skin concerns: Humphreys nourish witch hazel + aloe toner. “Toners have long been regarded as the holy grail of oil control and skin balance,” she explains. “The certified organic witch hazel helps refine pores and restore for clean, conditioned skin." After double cleansing your skin with an oil and a gentle exfoliating cleanser, follow up with this toner, which is non-drying and safe for even delicate skin types.


This Travel-Friendly Cleansing Duo That Combats Maskne

Double cleansing with this Erno Laszlo detoxifying travel set is your secret weapon. Using charcoal and sea mud, the cleansing oil removes dirt and makeup from deep within the pores, while the bar soap follows to exfoliate and jump-start cell turnover, leaving you with soft, clear skin. It comes recommended by makeup artist Mary Winkenwerder. “While this travel size duo addresses whole body issues, it works wonders on face issues brought on by maskne,” she says. “A little bit goes a long way."


This Derm-Approved Benzoyl Peroxide Cleanser With A Long Shelf Life

New York City dermatologist Dr. Hadley King spoke to the benefits of the AcneFree Oil Free Acne Cleanser, which contains a time tested acne-fighting ingredient. “[Benzoyl peroxide] has been used to treat acne for more than 60 not only [gets rid of] bacteria that contribute to acne, but also helps to prevent and clear out clogged pores,” she explains. While the micronized benzoyl peroxide cleanses the skin, ceramides nourish it, keeping irritation and dryness at bay. “Micronized formulations are great because they cause less irritation to the skin, and they stabilize the molecule so the shelf life can be longer,” Dr. King noted.


A Lip Balm That’s Packed With Moisturizing Ingredients

Not all lip balms are created equal, and using the right kind is vital to actually maintain the moisture your lips need under your mask. According to Dr. King, you should look for balms that contain emollients, occlusives, and humectants, such as the Eau Thermale Avene Cicalfate restorative lip cream. “Lip balms that contain only humectant ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin can actually make lips more dry,” she explains, as they can pull moisture out of your skin if none is present in the air. “Emollients...create a physical barrier to prevent moisture loss. Humectants attract moisture and the occlusives keep it from evaporating.” This lip balm contains all of the above: Sucralfate and a zinc sulfate complex to facilitate skin recovery, as well as castor seed oil, beeswax, and mineral oil for moisture and supporting the skin’s barrier.


These Neutrogena Face Wipes That Save Your Skin On The Go

We all lead busy lives, and sometimes washing your face with cleanser after you take your mask off just isn’t an option. Brittany Lo, a professional makeup artist and founder of Beia, says, “Breathing into the masks for an extended period of time, tends to congest our pores and then oil builds up a lot quicker. If you don't have time to properly wash your face...I recommend having these Neutrogena face wipes handy to clean the skin to remove the oils and dirt.” These super soft wipes are great to toss in your bag while you’re on the go; the pack comes with 20 individually-wrapped, biodegradable wipes.


This Thick Leave-On Lip Mask That Restores Moisture

To provide your lips with some intense moisture, Lo recommends the Laneige lip sleeping mask. “I apply [it] to my lips every time I walk into my home after taking off my mask,” she says. Use the included applicator to apply this extra-thick balm, which will make even the most chapped lips supple and soft.


A Tinted Lip Oil With The Benefits Of A Balm & The Look Of A Gloss

Dr. Michele Green, a cosmetic dermatologist, explained the importance of moisturizing your lips with the Versed’s lip oil. “Unlike the rest of the body, the lips do not have oil glands therefore cannot produce its own moisture,” she says. “Lip oils differ from balms in that the oils penetrate deeper and faster providing a longer hydration.” She notes that this formula contains jojoba, sesame seed oils, and vitamin E to soothe and condition the lips. As a bonus, these lips oils have a subtle tint that gives your lips a natural-looking wash of color when you take your mask off.


This Derm-Trusted Morning Moisturizer To Soothe Inflamed Skin

Aveeno Positively Radiant daily facial moisturizer contains colloidal oatmeal, which is a deeply beneficial ingredient for sad, irritated skin. Its non-comedogenic formula is recommended by Dr. Green. “Oats have been known to reduce inflammation of the skin as well as stimulate the production of collagen,” she says. “The oats bind to the skin creating a shield against irritations and locking in natural moisture.” As an added bonus, this moisturizer has an SPF of 30, making it a great thing to use in the morning.


This Nurse-Recommended Acne Treatment Helps Reduce Inflammation From Breakouts

Vanessa Coppola, board-certified nurse practitioner and aesthetic specialist/owner of Bare Aesthetic Medical Spa, says the Differin acne treatment gel is one of her all-time favorite retinoid treatments and is an effective treatment for maskne. “It works by inhibiting inflammatory cytokines, thereby reducing the skin's inflammatory response,” she notes. “This results in improvement in breakouts as well as helping to manage the pigment changes that can often occur from breakouts.” She further explains that this gel can be less irritating than retin-A creams.