Got Maskne? Non-Toxic Tips for Acne from Face Masks

Got Maskne? Stacy shares her top 4 tips to decrease inflammation and help heal the skin from acne caused by face masks. We are not medical professionals and our advice should be considered accordingly.

As Americans (and countries world-wide, really) adjust to the new reality of wearing face masks in public or other settings of increased risk from respiratory droplet exposure (and as many states, including mine, now mandate), our quest for the perfect mask continues. While some materials are better for restraining the exchange of smaller droplets, the breathability of such masks inhibits airflow on your face as well. So, how can we both be safe and keep our skin happy for those inevitable Zoom calls later?

First, wear the right mask.

Second, prep your skin before mask use.

Third, be mindful while wearing the mask.

Forth, treat your skin after use.

OK, yes, it sounds simple. And it is. With just a few modifications I’m hoping you can work some magic that’s got a good return on the effort you put in! If I can make this work, with my extremely sensitive acne-prone skin, I’m think we call can.

Switching to safer skincare and changing my lifestyle habits changed my skin years ago, but it’s still quick to “react” at the slightest irritation. This is what I’ve done to keep my skin clear and happy.

1: Wear the right mask (and wash it).

According to this study, the following masks are most ideal for reducing respiratory droplets. Good news, cotton reduces the droplets the most AND is less irritating for most skin types.

You want to look for a washable, re-usable ORGANIC COTTON DUAL LAYER (or more) mask. If there is an opening for a filtration system (i.e. thick padding you can add in), it’ll be even better for safety without affecting your skin. Here are some brands I found in stock:

  • Alex and Nova, which come in adult and kid sizes. They have a ton of options and fit as well as a satisfaction guarantee!
  • Duty Apparel uses size charts for an exact fit, adjustable nose pieces, and is both organic cotton and hemp, which is hypoallergenic and has a stronger resistance to breaking down than cotton (by 8x). They also use latex-free elastic and natural dyes for the cotton, it is fully non-toxic!
  • I love that Graf-Lantz donates to Feeding America with purchases of their masks, which have a unique nose-piece and come in 2 sizes. They also have filters that fit perfectly you can purchase, and if you’re feeling generous you can add a bulk set for essential workers to be donated to your order.
  • With loops around the head and neck vs. ears, Groceries Apparel not just uses organic cotton, but they also gift 3 masks when you buy 3. Love it!
  • and of course, when you search Organic Cotton Mask on Etsy you get SO many options!

Note: if you’re going to take off and put back on your cloth reusable mask – for example between outings in the same day, this is not advised because you’d be potentially exposing and touching the surface where the virus may live. But, in the real world, I know people are doing this. So, this study reviewed the best ways to sanitize for re-use and found that spraying the mask with a non-toxic alcohol-based disinfecting spray a good option. This does not apply for any paper-based masks, as wetness compromises their integrity – but for cloth, it was found:

…the use of low risk non-toxic disinfectants, such strategies, either individually or combined, by offering additional anti-viral properties or short term refreshing, may complement reuse options of professional masks or the now ubiquitous custom-made face masks… consider the use of dilute alcohol based spray-on disinfectants, not only as the simplest method for quick mask surface sterilization, but also applicable to other PPE surfaces or shared equipment, key-boards, computer mice or similar. [source]

Nothing is as good as changing masks and washing hands! Make sure to follow CDC guidelines and recommendations, as we’re not medical professionals here – only sharing information we learn!

Lastly – what you wash it in matters! The detergents you use may be too strong and irritating for your face. Make sure you’re using a clean-ingredient non-toxic soap that is fragrance-free. We use Branch Basics (you can get 15% off with code PALEOVIEW15).

2: Prep your skin before mask use.

A proper skincare routine consists of 4 steps: wash, tone, treat, protect (hydrate). If you’re experiencing acne from mask use, here are some items that I suggest swapping as part of your routine. If you’re not yet on a routine, let’s get you on one – email me your skin issues and goals and I’d love to help!


Sensitive, irritated and inflamed skin needs to be calmed down with a wash. All too often acne face washes include astringents that strip the skin’s natural oils and cause drying out, which in turn then causes the body to produce more oil to compensate… and you’ve got too much oil that clogs the pores. It’s a vicious cycle. Two of my hands-down favorite products are the Charcoal Cleansing Bar and gentle jojoba-bead exfoliating Clear Pore Cleanser, which mirror’s the body’s own sebum – both of these work for nearly all skin types, but you have to hydrate and follow the remaining steps to avoid drying out!


I often see people skip the toner step even though it is (arguably) the most important for acne-prone skin. I suggest either the Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Face Mist (if your skin is more sensitive) or the Clarifying Toner Pads (if your skin is more tough and oily) as an essential addition when combating acne.


This step really treats any skincare concerns you have, so it’s hard to give a universal item. If your skin is drying out, the Cleansing Balm as a hydrating mask and will provide a protective layer to the skin. If your skin is accumulating oil and pores are clogging, the Balancing Facial Oil added as 2 or 3 drops to your moisturizer will be a game changer. It’s counterintuitive, but your moisture barrier of your skin needs some support to stop overproducing, so telling it “I got this” will help it make less and balance your skin.

I highly recommend the detoxifying Charcoal Mask. I apply mine before my skincare routine (wash face, apply mask, then I wash it off in the shower to save time using the Charcoal Cleansing Bar in the shower). See below for all the grime (oil, dirt, and debris) it pulled out of my pores? Wearing your cotton face mask with all that inside your pores, steaming your face with your own breath, will cause irritation!


Keep this simple and lightweight, but ideally with SPF because you don’t want a tan line with a mask! I suggest the Sheer Defense Countersun Face Lotion. The added bonus to mineral sunscreen is that the zinc oxide can help decrease inflammation.

Get the mask as a free welcome gift with the perks program.

3: Be mindful while wearing the mask.

Some additional steps to consider:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before donning your mask.
  • Follow the skincare routine.
  • Avoid wearing heavy makeup (like foundation) underneath the mask as it may have the potential to lead to spots/acne. Focus on playing up the eyes!
  • Take a probiotic. I personally take and recommend Just Thrive (you can get 15% off with PALEOVIEW15), and this really helps to change the balance of bacteria in and on your skin. Bacteria drive the balance of your body, good and bad. However, that warm, damp environment under your mask is a breeding ground for colonization that can get trapped in the pores, leading to inflammation and acne. So, giving a boost to those good guys can go a long way!
  • Take a break, if you can. Keep in mind the CDC guidance on the safety of removing masks. Letting your skin breath and releasing some of the trapped warm air can reduce many of the factors and symptoms listed. Maybe plan on bringing two masks for an all-day need, and take a break outside away from people for a while between uses.

4: Treat your skin after use.

While the same 4-step routine remains true for evening as I mentioned in Tip 2, at night your skin has more time to really repair itself as you sleep. My top 3 nighttime treatments, after a day of mask use are as follows:

Wash > Charcoal Mask > Tone > Treat with the Overnight Resurfacing Peel > Protect with Lotus Glow Cleansing Balm

The magic of this trio is that the mask will pull the grime from your pores, and exfoliate loose dead skin. The Peel will then use botanical acids to both exfoliate and soothe the skin as it increases the ability for your body to regenerate cells. Rich in Vitamin C, which the body needs for collagen synthesis, it encourages cellular turnover. Then, after about 5 minutes with the peel, apply a pea sized mount of the Cleansing Balm. This balm, when rubbed between the hands and gently pressed into the skin, will act as a protective barrier to lock moisture in all night long.

What’s even more awesome is the FREE WELCOME GIFT offer from Beautycounter right now! You get a discount as a new customer (enter your email on their site), then add Band of Beauty perks program to get the Peel/Mask Duo, and then you’ll earn free shipping, and 10% credit back, too!

BOTH the Peel and Mask are included free as a welcome gift with Band of Beauty, learn more HERE


And that’s it! Still having issues? E-mail me, I do free consults and am happy to help you customize a skincare routine that’s best for you and your individual needs.



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