Yes, you can have clear skin even while wearing a mask this summer. We asked a top New York City dermatologist for her best tips.

By Jennifer Aldrich
June 29, 2020
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If your face has been looking like you're a teenager again, with bumps, redness, and blemishes, you're not alone. Many people are experiencing mask acne—aka "maskne"—due to wearing a face mask. (Especially if you're a healthcare employee or essential worker and you have to wear one for the majority of the day.) "Mask wearing, especially in warmer and more humid climates, can lead to increased sweating. Sweat trapped under the mask can create irritation on the skin and clog pores," says Elyse Love, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Spring Street Dermatology in New York City. "We are seeing an increase in acne and a condition called peri-oral dermatitis with routine mask-wearing."

For anyone who's been struggling for the past few months with skin imperfections, don't worry, because you can find relief. Love offers her top tips for clear skin, even if you're always wearing a face covering.

Credit: MoMo Productions/Getty Images

1. Choose the Right Mask

Love says we should all be wearing a lightweight mask made of sweat-wicking fabric, such as Athleta's 5-Pack of Everyday Face Masks ($30, Athleta.) It's crucial you have several, because, "Ideally, you should wear a clean mask every day," Love explains. After you're done wearing a mask for the day, make sure you wash it immediately, so it's ready to go the next time you need one.

 2. Wash Your Face

Yes, this might sound obvious, but cleansing your skin is as important as ever right now. "It's good practice to wash your face once you've returned home at the end of the day," Love explains. "This can be your normal evening skincare routine, but I recommend doing it when you come home rather than right before bed to wash away the sweat that has been trapped under the mask." A gentle, effective, and affordable option is Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser ($10, Target).

3. Exfoliate Your Skin

For a deep clean, you can exfoliate your face, which removes dead skin cells. Love likes exfoliating cleansers, including Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit Acne Facial Cleanser ($8, Target), or a detoxifying mask, such as Karisma Skincare Quickie Honey Mask ($85, Karisma Skincare). "Although adding retinol can be helpful to exfoliate the skin gently, it should be started slowly to avoid over irritation," Love adds. "Start [by using it] just three times a week, and, if your skin tolerates it, increase to nightly." Try First Aid Beauty Retinol Serum ($58, Sephora.)

Although skin irritation from wearing a mask can be frustrating, you should still be wearing one when you head to the grocery store, stop by the farmer's market, or head outside your home for any reason. Right now, it's the best defense we have against the novel coronavirus.

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