Face Masks and Skin Reactions

Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become compulsory to wear a protective face mask to protect yourself and others from contracting the Coronavirus. We have the option of wearing a surgical face mask or a cotton or material reusable mask. It will become a new normal to see everyone around us wearing face masks. It may even become the latest fashion accessory!

What are the various skin reactions that may occur with the wearing of a protective face mask?


There is a type of acne called Acne Mechanica. It occurs when the skin is undergoing repetitive friction, is covered for a long period of time, is under excess pressure or exposed to heat. With the wearing of a face mask, there is an increased chance of Acne Mechanica occurring.

  • Wearing a mask may cause you to sweat, which may result in breakouts or an increase in breakouts, particularly around the areas which the mask covers.
  • Sebum, produced by your pores, together with the oil in your cosmetics, may collect in the lining of the mask. This will be in contact with your skin and create the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, causing breakouts or an increase in breakouts.
  • With the frequent washing of the reusable masks, the laundry detergents and fabric softeners in which it is washed, may cause irritation of the skin and a rash-like breakout may occur.

Grace Beauty Recommendations:

Ensure that a clean face mask is worn every day and if you are working with clients, ensure that disposable masks are replaced frequently throughout the day. It would be suggested to change your laundry detergent or fabric softener to one that is recommended for sensitive skin.


Certain masks, particularly the cotton blend masks, absorb the skins natural oils causing the skin to become irritated and dry.

  • People with sensitive/sensitized skin are even more prone to dryness and irritation. This could become itchy and cause a scaly rash.
  • People with inflammatory or chronic skin conditions e.g. Rosacea, Eczema and Psoriasis, are likely to experience increased flare ups.

Grace Beauty Recommendations:

It is extremely important to build up and protect the skin barrier, as this will prevent the loss of water. Keep the skin well-nourished and protected against the elements.


As a result of friction from the mask, or due to irritation and underlying inflammation caused by an excessively dry skin, together with possible skin rashes, the skin may develop certain pigmentation changes around the areas of the mask.

  • Darker areas of pigment may develop
  • Existing pigmentation in the areas covered by the mask, may become darker

Grace Beauty Recommendations:

If prone to hyperpigmentation, make sure to avoid any possible skin irritation or inflammation.


If a face mask is worn for long periods of time, it will not be uncommon for some people to experience bruising in certain areas of the face due to the pressure of the mask, especially if the skin is thinner and more fragile in those areas.

Grace Beauty Recommendations:


  • Avoid aggressive and harsh chemicals, which will further dry out the skin
  • Go make up free as much as you can
  • Keep skin hydrated as most breakouts are exacerbated by inflammation triggered by dryness
  • If the skin becomes very uncomfortable, make a cold compress by placing a clean cloth in cold water, ring out the excess water, then lay it on a clean skin to help soothe
  • When you get home, remove the mask, cleanse your skin and hydrate with a moisturiser
  • If you have a re-usable mask, wash it often (if not daily) and make sure to dry it out in the sun and iron it