15 Products To Help Combat "Maskne," According To A Dermatologist

Send pimples packing.

by Syeda Khaula Saad
Originally Published: 
If you're frequently wearing a mask, then you might be dealing with maskne. Bustle spoke to a dermat...

At the beginning of April 2020, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that people wear cloth face coverings in public. And while a lot of mask mandates have been lifted, mask-wearing is still — and will most likely continue to be — a mainstay. But while you're keeping yourself safe with masks, you might also want to consider what products might help you combat maskne, too.

Maskne (acne caused by wearing masks) is most likely caused by the sweat and oils that get trapped under your mask when you keep it on for a while. "When wearing a tight mask on the face, there is very little air flow and this creates a warm, moist environment, which is ideal for skin bacteria to flourish and cultivate," Dr. Rina Allawh, MD, board-certified dermatologist, tells Bustle. "As this skin bacteria grows, it starts to occlude or block the openings of hair follicles causing black heads, white heads, painful pimples and pus bumps." While she recommends keeping your mask sanitized to prevent new acne, she has a few ideas of what to do should you get maskne anyway.

Here are 15 products that can help fight your maskne.

PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash

When it comes to acne, benzoyl peroxide is usually the way to go, due to its effects against acne-causing bacteria, reducing inflammation, and opening up pores. “I call that a triple threat!" Dr. Allawh says. She recommends the PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash in the mornings and/or evenings.

Neutrogena On-The-Spot Acne Treatment

To treat any maskne that you've already gotten, Dr. Allawh suggests using Neutrogena On-The-Spot Acne Treatment, as the benzoyl peroxide within the cream will fight acne.

Replenix Acne Solution BPO Acne Gel

Replenix Acne Solution BPO Acne Gel is another benzoyl peroxide product that Dr. Allawh suggests to use to fight already-existing acne. "Remember to wash the BPO wash off completely as it may bleach towels, sheets and clothing... nobody wants that!" she says.

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

Along with benzoyl peroxide washes, Dr. Allawh suggests using anti-bacterial washes as well. "I recommend gentle cleansers containing a salicylic acid-based cleanser," she says. "Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid ... it dissolves the excess dirt, oily residue, and dead skin cells, which can build up in pores and are responsible for acne breakouts." She recommends the Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash, which is a salicylic, anti-bacterial wash.

CeraVe Renewing SA Face Cleanser for Normal Skin

The CeraVe Renewing SA Face Cleanser is another salicylic acid-based product that Dr. Allawh recommends for fighting maskne. The anti-bacterial qualities of the wash will help keep your skin clean after wearing your mask all day long.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream

"Those with dry, sensitive skin may be concerned about drying out their skin even more with this frequent washing," Dr. Allawh says. "Over drying our skin may cause the oil-producing glands in our skin to work overtime and produce even more oil ... I strongly recommend using an oil-free facial moisturizer that is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t cause you to break out." She recommends Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream. It's specifically for dry skin so it'll help keep your skin hydrated.

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil

"For those who are experiencing more comedonal acne (i.e. black heads and white heads), a topical retinol at bedtime is recommended," Dr. Allawh says. "It is important to find a topical retinol that is lightweight, non-greasy that provides hydration with the benefits of a pure retinol." For this, she recommends the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil.

CeraVe Renewing Retinol Serum

CeraVe Renewing Retinol Serum is another retinol product Dr. Allawh recommends. "Retinol creams are excellent in the treatment of acne with the caveat that they can be drying," she says. "In general, I recommend starting 2-3 times weekly with a pea-sized amount to the entire face and titrating up to nightly."

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Facial Wipes For Oily Skin

If you're ever pressed for time, Dr. Allawh suggests using a quick facial towelette to wipe your face after taking your mask off. "After removing the mask, using a gentle cleansing wipe ... and/or washing your face with a gentle facial cleanser ... are helpful ways to remove the excess oil, debris, sweat and dirt from your face," she says. Just remember to wash properly if you use the face wipe.

iNNBEAUTY PROJECT Pimple Paste Overnight Blemish Drying Paste

A pimple paste is exactly what you think it is — a thick cream that you put on a blemish and leave overnight to help treat it. This one uses willow bark, a natural alternative to salicylic acid, to clear pores and treat already existing acne. It is also made of clay and sulfur to absorb excess oil and sebum to prevent future breakouts.

Untamed Humans Mask Relief Face Mist

Maskne occurs because the mask causes friction against the skin and breaks down the protective barrier against humidity, dirt, and oil. This mist will help fortify that barrier and help treat any blemishes that come from those masks using witch hazel, willow bark, tea tree, and glycerin.

Hero Mighty Patch Invisible+

The beauty (pun very much intended) of an acne patch is that you can hide your blemish while also treating it at the same time. Hydrocolloid — a plant-based gel — absorbs oil and pus, and then encases it so that the pimple clears up quicker. As an added bonus, you can wear it under your mask as a barrier to prevent further irritation.

Peach Slices Acne Clarifying Cleanser

While great for treating maskne, salicylic acid can be drying. This cleanser gives you the benefits of the powerful acne-fighting ingredient while also moisturizing your skin with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid. There’s also cucumber and cica to protect the skin from environmental aggressors and help reduce redness.

Renée Rouleau Rapid Response Maskne Spray

Stop maskne breakouts before they get bad. This spray helps treat blemishes in their early stages thanks to its alpha hydroxy- (AHA) and beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) exfoliants and prebiotic sugar. Together, they work to reduce surface bacteria and create an ecosystem where acne-forming bacteria won’t be able to grow.

SOBEL SKIN Rx 11% Triple Acid Mineral Mask

Treat your skin at night with a different kind of mask. This one contains lactic acid for hydration and stimulation of collagen production, glycolic acid for exfoliation, and salicylic acid to unclog pores.


Dr. Rina Allawh, MD, board-certified dermatologist

This article was originally published on