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Tired of maskne? We asked Miami’s top skin experts for tips on fighting the mask-related breakouts.

Here’s how to deal with the incessant pimples that result from wearing a face-covering in the hot Miami sun.

Virginia Gil
Written by
Virginia Gil

Of all the ways the current health crisis challenged us, acne wasn’t one we anticipated. It’s not just the stress-induced breakouts we’re referring to, rather it’s maskne: the unsightly bumps developing on your chin, around your mouth and basically any part of your face that comes in contact with your mask. “Maskne is a friction/mechanical acne, similar to acne mechanica that refers to breakouts that occur along helmet liners or necklines in athletes and violin players,” explains Dr. Shasa Hu, a dermatologist at the University of Miami.

It’s an unfortunate side-effect of covering our faces—which we should all most certainly continue to do—that doesn’t discriminate based on age or skin type. Though locals are more prone to developing it than people anywhere else in the country. “South Floridians have a worse time with maskne because of our tropical climate. Wearing a mask in a temperate climate is already challenging enough, with added heat, humidity and stronger sun exposure, maskne shows up sooner and more aggressively,” adds Dr. Hu.

Sadly, there’s probably a tiny pimple just fighting its way to the surface as you read this. But we do have good news: there are steps you can take to minimize flare-ups and treat existing maskne while still protecting yourself with a face-covering. Here, some tips for dealing with the dreaded of-the-moment skin condition from some of Miami’s top skin experts.

Wash your face more often.
Your twice-daily routine isn’t cutting it if you’re trying to keep your pores clear. According to licensed esthetician Vanessa Da Silva of NKD Beauty, people should be washing their face before and after they remove their mask.

Use products with acne-fighting ingredients.
“Cleansers with salicylic acid kill bacteria and remove dirt and oil from pores to help prevent breakouts,” says Vanessa Da Silva. She recommends the Sal-X purifying cleanser from Gylmed or, if you’re short on time, the clarifying toner pads from Skin Script RX with glycolic, salicylic and tea tree oil, which improve the clarity and quality of the skin. For folks interested in more holistic solutions, Sana Skin Studio’s co-founder, Valentina Hernandez Botero, suggests the Acne Cleanser by Naturopathica. The gluten-free, vegan formula also contains salicylic acid to help exfoliate, cleanse and reduce future breakouts, she says.

Incorporate toners into your cleansing routine.
Toners that contain fruit acids or salicylic acid aid in controlling oil and eliminating bacteria on the skin that your cleanser left behind, says Elite Med Spa’s Lisa DaSilva.

Make time for a weekly mask.
Really dig into those pores with a deeper treatment, like a detoxifying mask. Sana’s skin guru Valentina suggests something like their Lesse Bioactive Purifying Mask, while Lisa DaSilva recommends a clay mask. “A clay mask or one that contains sulfure helps to neutralize bacteria that causes breakouts, removes impurities and clears clogged pores,” she says.

Don’t forget to exfoliate.
Removing dead skin improves texture and keeps pores free of impurities, so make sure to use a gentle exfoliator a couple of times per week. SKN Miami offers digitally supervised, at-home peels (a chemical exfoliator) you can get shipped to your home. One of SKN’s gentle formulas would be the way to go for acne-prone skin, says owner Caleb McGrew.

Always keep your skin hydrated.
“Use a noncomedogenic moisturizer so that you have a nice skin barrier that protects you against irritation of the mask,” says Dr. Hu. Even people with oily skin should use a light moisturizer to prevent rebound excess sebum production.

Skip the makeup but do slather on the SPF.
SPF during the day is key. This was a resounding recommendation from all of the professionals we interviewed.

Consider a reusable cotton mask, but be sure to wash it daily.
Cotton is a breathable fabric that can help reduce the risk of irritation but you should treat it like a single-use face covering and wash it daily. It’s crucial to get rid of all the oil, grease, makeup and bacteria that tends to rub off on your mask and clog pores. A fragrance-free cleanser is best as it won’t leave unnecessary chemicals behind in the lining, which can otherwise irritate your skin. “Wearing a dirty mask is like sleeping on a stale pillowcase—you are more prone to getting acne breakouts,” says Dr. Hu.

If your maskne persists or becomes painful, seek professional help.
“When people start to experience painful cysts under the area covered by their faces, getting scars and/or stains from the breakouts, or getting dermatitis along with their maskne, then seek board-certified dermatologists for treatment. We can help to control a bad flare-up with a combination of oral and topical prescription medications,” says Dr. Hu. Another reason to see your doctor: not all acne is maskne, so it’s important to make sure you’re not mistreating with the wrong medication.

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