Should You Spray Toner In Your Mask To Prevent Maskne? A Derm Explains

mbg Editorial Assistant By Jamie Schneider
mbg Editorial Assistant
Jamie Schneider is the Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen with a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan. She's previously written for Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Young black woman in a mask
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If you've ever gone head-to-head with maskne, you're likely familiar with all the possible tricks and tips to prevent mask-induced irritation (Exfoliation! Lip masks! Shea-butter-infused gear!) Here's another one that recently entered the conversation: toner.

Whether they use it in their routine or not, some experts (and those willing to try anything to combat the dreaded maskne) have been spraying toner into their masks to limit the bacterial hotbed that occurs under the face covering. And get this: It's worked—for the select few documenting their progress, at least. 

But is using toner a one-off hack for specific individuals, or can everybody benefit from a spritz or two? A derm has the answers. 

Does toner help with maskne?

The short answer? It doesn't hurt: "Toners by and large do have some astringent properties, so they remove excess traces of oil, makeup, perspiration, and debris from the skin surface," says board-certified dermatologist Ava Shamban, M.D., founder of SKINFIVE.

And while said properties probably work better when they're applied directly to the skin, the mask hack could be something worth trying in a pinch. "You can certainly spray a toner on the inside of a mask," Shamban continues. "Its antibacterial quotient, anti-inflammatory agents, calming and oil-absorbing properties can add an additional layer of help in the war against maskne."

Sounds pretty promising, considering all it takes is a few spritzes into your face covering. Of course, there are no clinical studies as of yet to support this hack—just the anecdotal claims of the maskne-afflicted online—but the ingredients behind it make sense. 

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The right way to spray toner on your mask. 

It's more than a simple spritz-and-go. After all, an improper formula or wait time can actually compromise your skin further. That said, you'll want to choose a specific toner based on the type of maskne you have. For example, those with clogged pores and acne may want to reach for an exfoliating toner, while those with contact dermatitis can benefit from a calming, hydrating spritz. (See here for our full list of toners that span the entire exfoliating-to-moisturizing spectrum.) 

As for the method itself, here's how Shamban suggests spritzing:

  1. Choose a spray formula for your toner (cotton pads don't work, here). If your toner isn't mist-friendly, simply pour your liquid into any spray bottle on-hand. 
  2. Once you're ready to head out, spritz a light layer of toner onto the mask. "More is not necessarily better," Shamban notes. "Too much toner could decrease the efficacy of the mask and contribute to a moist environment." And thus, even more maskne—groan.
  3. Wait around three to five minutes for the toner to absorb into the fabric fibers. Secure your face covering, and you're good to go. 

The takeaway. 

Combating maskne takes some trial and error (people can have distinct symptoms, not to mention different triggers). But if you're looking for another method to add to your repertoire, consider spraying toner in your mask before heading out the door. Of course, it shouldn't be your only plan of action for mask-induced irritation; a consistent skin care regimen is still your best bet.  

And don't rely on a spritz of toner for cleaning the mask, either. No, a good soap-and-water ritual is still necessary, even though some toners do have antibacterial properties themselves. As Shamban notes, "Spraying on toner is only 'masking' the issue if the mask is not clean." We wholeheartedly agree. 

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