Suffering from "Maskne"? Your Hair Products Might Be Making it Worse.

Hey! I’m Sophia, TEENOLOGY’s guest writer (and biggest fan). 

If you’re like me, you totally thought your teenage acne was behind you when you hit your 20s. I was so ready to say goodbye to random zits, painful pimples, and merciless breakouts… but as I rolled into my mid-20s, my skin problems didn’t go away. 

While my acne definitely improved as I aged, I’ve started to notice something in 2020 that I haven’t seen before… new breakouts on my chin, around my mouth, and along my jawline. Even as a teenager, I didn’t get acne there -- so what the heck is going on? 

Introducing what experts like to call the dreaded “maskne”, or mask acne. 

Young girl wearing a face mask.

An unfortunate consequence of frequently wearing a face mask, “maskne” is acne that pops up on the face due to increased friction and rubbing of the mask against your skin. This extra pressure traps moisture and pushes bacteria into the skin, causing irritation, inflammation, and clogged pores. Yikes! 

Fortunately, experts say there are a few easy habits you can adopt to combat maskne, soothe the skin, and help ward off future acne breakouts. 

Things like switching out your mask for a clean one each day, regularly cleaning masks in hypoallergenic detergent, washing your face with a gentle cleanser, and giving your skin a break from pore-clogging products, like makeup and heavy moisturizer. (I know I’ve had to give up the full-coverage foundation I regularly use!) 

However, dense makeup and heavy moisturizers aren’t the only thing that might be causing a flare up of maskne… your hair care products could be making it worse, too! 

Specifically, maskne culprits can be the harmful sulfates, parabens, and pore-clogging oils many popular shampoos and conditioners contain. Who would have thought? 

Why Your Shampoo and Conditioner Might Be Making “Maskne” Worse

Teen boy with maskne and pomade acne.

Sulfates (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS)

A common ingredient that gives shampoos their commercial-worthy lather, sodium lauryl sulfate can be a major cause for irritation and inflammation. Especially for those with sensitive skin! 

Sulfates are chemicals used for removing dirt and oil, but they can cause skin barrier disruption, making active breakouts even worse. 


Used as a cheap preservative to extend shelf life, this sneaky ingredient is found in more hair, body, and skincare products than you might believe! 

Unfortunately, scientists have discovered that parabens mimic estrogens and interrupt hormone function, which could result in nasty acne. 

Pore-Clogging Oils

Do you see any ingredients like silicone, jojoba oil, shea butter, or petroleum in your shampoo and conditioner? If you’re regularly experiencing “pomade acne,” otherwise known as breakouts on your forehead, chest, back, and shoulders, these could be the main cause! 

Comedogenic oils, like the ones mentioned above, contribute to an overproduction of sebum, otherwise known as your skin’s natural oil, leading to excess buildup and clogged pores. 

So, What Does This Have to Do with Maskne? 

Well, as I mentioned above, maskne occurs from the friction and rubbing of face masks against your skin. This traps moisture, opens pores, and pushes in bacteria to clog them up. 

But that’s not all face masks are pushing into your delicate pores… 

If you’re using hair care products containing acne-promoting sulfates, parabens, or pore-clogging oils, your mask is creating the perfect environment for these harmful ingredients to cause annoying acne and breakouts! 

Even worse… these ingredients don’t just disappear once you step out of the shower. And they typically don’t stay in your hair either. If you sweat, touch your hair and face often, or have longer hair that touches your skin, these acne-promoting ingredients seep into your skin and spur random breakouts on your forehead, shoulders, back, and chest. 

This common contact between the harmful ingredients in your hair products and skin would likely cause acne on a normal day! But if you're regularly wearing a face mask, these ingredients are being pushed even further into your sensitive pores. 

So what can you do about it? 

Well, an easy step would be switching out your regular shampoo and conditioner for one that is free of unnecessary sulfates, parabens, and pore-clogging oils! 

I don’t know about you but I’ll try anything to ward off acne and breakouts… which is why I kicked my other shampoo and conditioner out of the shower and swapped them for TEENOLOGY.

Their shampoos, conditioners, and body wash may be a simple solution to help avoid maskne and other acne breakouts, as they’re completely free of any acne-promoting ingredients! 

Along with following the other tips mentioned above - regularly cleaning my masks, giving my skin a break from pore-clogging products, avoiding heavy makeup, and using a gentle cleaner - I’ve already noticed a difference in my skin! 

So, if you’re starting to notice new breakouts where your face mask typically sits, it might be worth considering changing up your hair care products, as well as following the additional advice and tips from experts! 

Here’s to healthy hair and skin!

Group of teens smiling and wearing face masks.