The Best Way to Avoid Mask Acne Is to Clean Your Mask

Yes, you really are supposed to use a fresh mask *every* *single* *time* (or wash it *every* *single* *day*)

A lot of us should be happy we have an excuse to wear a mask to cover our faces. I, for one, love to not be seen. But it’s becoming a bit of a self-feeding cycle: We wear a mask, get acne from it and now want to wear a mask to hide it even more. But it doesn’t have to be this way. I mean, yes, you do still have to wear a mask, but you can avoid the acne part.

I’m going to be honest with you: There’s a good chance that you’re getting acne from not wearing a clean mask. I know it’s just so convenient to say, “Oh, I only wore this cloth mask to the gas station, I can wear it out again on this grocery trip.” No!!!!! This is how you get acne.

If you’ve ever gotten acne from your pillowcase or holding your cell phone up to your cheek, you know that the solution is to clean these things more often. They collect our sweat and bacteria, and each time we bring our faces against them we’re reexposing our skin to said nasties. It’s the same with the mask. When we wear our mask out, whether we get sweaty or not, we’re coating the interior of the mask with whatever bacteria is on our face. If we put that same mask back on later, our face has more bacteria than it knows what to do with. Like sending too much hair down a drain, this bacteria clogs our pores, and voila, zits emerge. Wearing makeup or heavy skincare can expedite this process, so maybe skip putting anything additional on the mask-covered part of your face when you go out.

Even with a clean mask and bare face, pores can still get clogged, especially if we’re particularly sweaty. Some materials are better at handling sweat than others: Per the New York Times, 100 percent cotton masks will fare better on breathability than other fabrics for reusable masks. I know washing a mask after every wear is obnoxious, but if it’s any consolation, washing them in the sink will work just fine.

Alternatively, there are tons of disposable face mask packs available with one-day shipping on Amazon. I hate to tell you to buy something and create waste, but I find the ease and peace of mind of tossing that shit in the trash after running errands truly unparalleled. Most of them don’t say exactly what they’re made of, which is… odd, but the fact that you only wear them once should keep acne at bay. Regardless of the material of your mask, washing your face with a mild cleanser or micellar water can also help.

For people who have to wear a mask all day every day for their jobs, two things: First off, thank you for your service; secondly, I’m so sorry but the only real solution is to change your mask frequently.

But, as a message for everyone: Zits don’t matter. Zits are literally the last thing anyone is noticing about you right now. Odds are, since you’re wearing a goddamn mask, you’re nearly the only one who can see it. It’s not a big deal, and it will go away. Wearing a mask is still very much worth the potential for acne.