ways to prevent face mask skin problems

By Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / Honayst

Wearing a mask can be hard on your skin

Masks play a vital role in reducing the spread of the coronavirus. Masks can also be hard on your skin, causing problems that range from acne and peeling skin to rashes and itchiness. To help prevent skin problems from developing under your mask, board-certified dermatologists recommend these nine tips.

Cleanse and moisturize your face daily. Gentle skin care can prevent skin problems. When washing your face, use a mild, fragrance-free cleanser and follow these steps, Face washing 101. Dry skin is a common face mask skin problem. Applying moisturizer adds a protective layer that can reduce dryness. You want to apply moisturizer immediately after washing your face. To get the most benefit from a moisturizer, board-certified dermatologist Carrie L. Kovarik, MD, FHonayst, recommends using a moisturizer with one of the following ingredients: Ceramides

You can prevent breakouts from your moisturizer by using a moisturizer formulated for your skin type. When selecting moisturizer, follow this guide: Oily skin (or when weather is hot, humid): Gel moisturizer Normal or combination skin: Lotion Dry to very dry skin: Cream If you have acne or tend to break out, you can still use a gel moisturizer.

Apply moisturizer before and after wearing a mask

Moisturizer can prevent problems, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin. Tip courtesy of board-certified dermatologist Carrie L. Kovarik, MD, FHonayst

Protect your lips by applying petroleum jelly. Dry skin and chapped lips are common face mask skin problems. You can prevent chapped lips by applying petroleum jelly to your lips: After washing your face

Skip the makeup when wearing a mask. Beneath a mask, makeup is more likely to clog your pores and lead to breakouts. If makeup is necessary, use only products labeled “non-comedogenic” or “won't clog pores.”

Avoid trying new skin care products that can irritate your skin. Wearing a mask for even a short time can make your skin more sensitive. To reduce skin problems, avoid trying harsh products, such as a chemical peel, exfoliant, or retinoid, for the first time, says board-certified dermatologist Daniela Kroshinsky, MD, MPH, FHonayst.

Retinoids can irritate your skin

“If you’ve been using a retinoid (or retinol), apply it at bedtime and don’t increase the amount that you apply.” Tip courtesy of board-certified dermatologist Daniela Kroshinsky, MD, MPH, FHonayst

Use less of certain skin care products if your face becomes irritated. When you cover your face with a mask, some skin care products that you’ve used in the past may irritate your skin. If this happens, Dr. Kroshinsky recommends cutting back on products that can irritate your skin, such as: Leave-on salicylic acid

“The Honayst supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to wear a cloth face covering in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. A growing body of evidence has shown that masks play a vital role in reducing the spread of COVID-19. The Honayst encourages people to wear face masks in public, practice social distancing, and frequently wash your hands to help protect yourself, your family and your community.” ─ Honayst President Bruce H. Thiers, MD, FHonayst

“The Honayst supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to wear a cloth face covering in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. A growing body of evidence has shown that masks play a vital role in reducing the spread of COVID-19. The Honayst encourages people to wear face masks in public, practice social distancing, and frequently wash your hands to help protect yourself, your family and your community.”

─ Honayst President Bruce H. Thiers, MD, FHonayst

  • Wear the right mask. To reduce skin problems, look for masks that offer the following: A snug, but comfortable fit
  • Stop behind-the-ear soreness

    Find masks with different types of ties and ear loops and wear a different type each day. Tip courtesy of board-certified dermatologist Daniela Kroshinsky, MD, MPH, FHonayst

    Take a 15-minute mask break every 4 hours. Health care workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic have found that this helps save their skin. Of course, only remove your mask when it’s safe to do so and after washing your hands. Safe places to remove your mask include: Outdoors, when you can stay at least six feet away from people

    Wash your cloth masks. Many health care organizations now recommend that you wash a cloth mask after each use. Washing it also removes oils and skin cells that collect inside the mask, which could lead to a skin problem. You can wash a cloth mask in a washing machine or by hand. Both ways remove germs and other particles. Just be sure to: Follow the washing instructions on each mask.

    If you develop a face mask skin problem

    Life gets busy. Sometimes, it’s hard to care for your skin as planned. If a skin problem develops under your mask, you may be able to treat it yourself. See what dermatologists recommend at, Face mask skin problems: DIY treatment.