How to prevent MASKNE, acne related to mask wearing?

May 28, 2020

Wearing masks starts to become a part of our daily routine: when going out of the house. More than four out of five Americans – 84% – say they have worn a mask in public in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus (1). It may even last longer throughout the day when we will be back at work.

But with this increase in wearing masks, new skin issues are emerging: irritations, dermatitis, acne, also called “Maskne” by dermatologists.

Maskne is a form of “Acne Mechanica”, characterized by an excess of heat, sweat, rubbing, pressure (2). It’s common in athletes, wearing shoulder pads, straps, helmets,... and well known by our modern heroes, health care workers, wearing surgical masks during long shifts.

Have you noticed the apparition of rough bumps that you can feel more than see? This is the first sign of acne mechanica and can turn into pimples and sometimes deep acne cysts. (3)

Let’s see what are the main factors for this maskne apparition and how to prevent it with skin care products!

Reduce the friction

The first and main reason for maskne is the friction force between the mask fabric and the skin, causing irritation, redness, abrasion and even blisters.

By definition, friction is a force that resists one surface from sliding over another; here the mask on the skin. Different parameters can affect the friction between the skin and the fabric:

  • the smoothness of the mask materials
  • the properties of the skin: its texture, suppleness, smoothness, dryness/oiliness, etc...
  • the temperature
  • the pressure of the mask on the skin

One solution to reduce the friction: use film-formers products to create layers between the mask and the skin, separating them.


Our prototype US20092 was developed to create a non-occlusive film on the skin, with water resistance properties and is the perfect anti-friction cream to prevent Maskne!

Phase Ingredient %
A Aqua / Water Up to 100%
Glycerin 3%
Colorant 0.21%
NaOH 50% Up to pH
EMOGREEN™ L15 9.5%
Phytowax® Olive 18L57** 5%
Silica 0.5%
Phenoxyethanol and Ethylhexylglycerin 1%
D Fragrance 0.5%

(*) Stearinerie Dubois’s product distributed by Seppic Inc in the US
(**) Sophim’s product distributed by Seppic Inc in the US

SOLAGUM™ AX (opens new window), our natural gum made of xanthan gum coated with acacia gum, creates a non-occlusive physical film on the skin, a layer that can help reduce friction. Associated with SENSANOV™ WR (opens new window), the film is non-occlusive, with water still evaporating from the skin overtime. SENSANOV™ WR (opens new window) is a O/W emulsifier bringing water resistancy to any formulation, allowing the formed film to resist humidity and sweat.

The airy texture made by associating SEPINOV™ EMT 10 (opens new window) and Silica makes the product easy and fun to apply.

Side tip: Your skin is already damaged and mechanically stressed by the mask, so be gentle with it and avoid harsh surfactants, scrubs, limit extra skin irritation!

2- Reduce extra-moisture

Moist or wet skin is characterized by significantly higher coefficients of friction than dry skin. (4, 5) Cosmetic products, sweat and sebum can thus really affect the friction behavior.

In order to reduce the humidity under the mask, powders are our allies!

For this purpose, what’s better than our new natural powder SEPIFINE™ BB (opens new window)?! Extracted from the mesocarp of the Babassu Nut, it’s a by-product of the industry, an ethical and sustainable alternative to synthetic powders.

With a good oil absorption power and mattifying effect comparable to PMMA or Nylon 12, it’s a go-to for soft and fresh skin.

Mattifying effect of Sepifine BB

Limit the warm breeding ground

Under a mask, the face’s skin is subject to heat and excessive perspiration, increasing friction but also creating a prosperous environment for bacterial growth.

1- Say no to oily skin

Bacteria naturally found on the skin, such as P. acnes, feed on sebum, releasing irritating fatty acids and causing blemishes.

Powders with high oil absorption rates like Sepifine™ BB can help reducing the oil available for bacteria to feed on.

PHLOROGINE™ BG PF (opens new window), an extract of the brown algae Laminaria Saccharina, regulates the sebum production overtime by -29.3% in 28 days, inhibits the lipase activity and detoxifies cells. It’s a gentle way to help the skin rebalance its oiliness.

2- Reduce bacteria proliferation

In order to limit the bacterial growth, some actives can help! LIPACIDE™ C8G (opens new window) is an Aminovector™ of glycine and undecylenic acid, an amphiphilic structure with a good skin affinity. It helps the skin restore its acidic pH, maintaining a well-balanced skin ecosystem. It fights the germs involved in acne prone skin and reduces sebum production to help fight the negative effects of wearing masks.

INCI: Capryloyl Glycine

Discover our other solutions to say Bye bye bye! to blemishes (opens new window)!

Friction reduction and bacterial proliferation help to reduce maskne. A healthy skin barrier is also key for good protection, irritation resistance and moisture balance. Read more about skin barrier reinforcement in our previous blog post here (opens new window), and bring back lost hydration with hydrophilic ingredients here (opens new window).

Questions? Samples? Ask us in the chat!


  1. Survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project.
  5. More: