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Maskne – the New Acne?

2020: We slept in one world and woke up in another. A world where Coronavirus, lock-downs, circuit breakers, curfews & of course, wearing of face masks when we go out for a walk, buy groceries or run important errands is the new normal. Inevitably, many of us find ourselves dealing with a host of skin issues. Common ones include itchiness, redness, inflammation, rashes and acne breakouts.

Who’s more pre-disposed to getting Maskne? 
Those of us with oily and acne prone skin or irritable, intolerant skin.

Why does Maskne occur?

When worn correctly, effective protection with a surgical face mask creates a naturally moist, hot environment over the covered skin as your breathing is being trapped. Over the span of a few hours, this occlusion leads to a build up of sweat and oil on the skin under the mask, creating that perfect petri dish for acne bacteria to grow and thrive. This condition is known as Acne Mechanica – which is skin irritation formed by excess pressure, heat & constant rubbing against the skin. Though commonly seen in athletes who perspire a lot or those wearing chin straps, we now see a rise in acne in the lower half of the face; which corresponds to where the face mask is worn over the skin.

Skin woes don’t just manifest in the form of pimples; another common problem comes, shows up in red (or clear) bumps which may be followed by itchiness; something we term as Contact dermatitis or allergic dermatitis.

Either way, the annoyance is real.

10 Tips on How To Prevent and Manage Maskne
  • Cleanse and moisturise your face before and after wearing a face mask.

  • If your skin is reactive or gets sensitive easily, bring an extra clean mask – change this mid day. If you have a facial, good practice to use a clean mask after! Change your mask daily at least. Wear a cloth / silk mask instead of the disposable ones if your skin is reactive and acne prone.

  • Incorporate products with these ingredients: Retinols, AHA, Salicylic acid. These accelerate cellular turnover, reduce clogged pores, congested skin, eliminate blackheads & whiteheads. For those with oily skin, start the routine right with proper cleansing. My pick would be SkinBetter’s Oxygen Infusion Wash – contains Salicylic acid which loosens up a clog, is incredibly light weight, removes excess oil, dead cells, is non-drying and leaves a beautiful radiance on skin. Add in exfoliants like AHA and Retinols. Picks for me would be Lotion P50 from BR and AlphaRet Overnight Cream from SBS – they work gently but potently to exfoliate skin and prevent congestion.

  • Moisturise – a cardinal rule and often missed out in skin routines. The logic is simple – our body is made up of 60-70% water and our skin caters for 60-70% of that water content. Which shows the simple fact that water is crucial to good skin health. The more we deprive skin of its needed hydration, it is going to over-compensate by producing more sebum on the surface. So what you end up with is an oily surface but a parched dermis – a vicious cycle that needs to be broken to restore skin balance. Apply a lightweight moisturizer comfortable for the day – my picks are the ultra light yet hydrating Hydration Boosting Cream from SBS. If you are breaking out, Crème Placenta or Crème Dermopurifiante are good ones to keep acne prone skin purified and hydrated.

  • Masking – one of the best things I’ve found in maintaining good skin is sensible daily masking. Choose your masques wisely and understand what they do. Make the masking sessions count by treating your skin according to what it needs. Wash off within the stipulated time frame. Spot mask appropriately – so if you break out in the lower half of the face, use a purifying, balancing mask to treat the area and another hydrating mask to treat the rest of the face. While using the hydrating mask on the whole face is not going to harm the skin, neither is it going to do anything to draw out the acne. My favourite ones for consistency in results, efficacy & versatility is BR’s crème masques – from Masque VIP O2VivantBain de PlantesBiomagic MaskMasque Biosensible – you can mix any of these to diagnostically treat your skin.

  • Invest in a good, solid anti-blemish routine – wearing face mask is a new normal so you want to decisively treat skin woes as they arise. Add to that hormonal acne that inflicts many of us, having a stable anti-blemish routine that you can whip out every month will go a long way. Use a clear, non-staining serum like Blemish & Age Defense for the first 1-2 days & Complexe Iribiol for the next 2-3 days for a calmer, soothing effect. Moisturise with Crème Dermopurifiante for anti bacterial & anti inflammatory benefits. Mask daily with Vivant + a dash of baking soda or Bain de Plantes (if skin is more sensitive).

  • Go light on make up – if you’re still using makeup, shift your application to only what's above eye level, as any potentially irritating or pore-clogging ingredients especially heavy foundation and concealer should be avoided under the mask-covered skin. Or opt for “skin perfectors" that allow skin to breathe freely – Serum De Teint which looks deceptively like foundation but feels nothing like it.

  • Get a good deep cleansing facial regularly or a medical grade LED light therapy – the ones I love are the Hydrafacial which deeply cleans without stripping skin of its needed hydration. If sensitive skin is in the mix, then we add on a soothing & healing oxygen infusion. LED light therapy can also be super helpful – we use a mixture of blue light for anti-bacterial and yellow for healing & reducing redness.

  • Don’t take matters into your own hands – mechanical picking on your skin can do more harm than good. Unless your pustule forms into that pointed white head where a little nudge will remove the entire pus, no one should be picking at their pimples. It gives that instant gratification but also leaves you to deal with a scar in the weeks and months ahead. It can also lead to infection, redness, boils, inflammation – signs that you should quickly see your doctor to get onto a course of oral medication or injection to reduce inflammation.

  • Spot treat your pimples – be decisive and strategic of what you use to spot treat the developing pimple. Aim to draw it out to maturity rather than curtailing its development, which means it will surface in the next month.

  • 3 GOLDEN RULES 

    KEEP IT CLEAN. SPOT TREAT. MOISTURISE.

    Extractions – Good or Bad

    When skin is clogged up with excess sebum, impurities, whatever you try slathering on is pretty much futile. The main culprits are Blackheads and Whiteheads – a blocked pore that stays open forms a blackhead. If a blocked pore closes, a whitehead, or closed comedones will develop. Depending on the extent of congestion, we often times have to do a manual extraction. Done properly in skilled hands, extractions clear out clogged and obstructed pores. A good extraction involves one swift motion to unclog the pore – whether by hand or using sterile instruments. There should not be constant plodding or multiple attempts to extract.

    In the case of pimples, extractions should only be done when the pimple is sufficiently “ripe”, ideally when they develop a “head”. If it is too early in its development phase, best to leave it as is and allow it to run its course. Picking at it will aggravate the condition and pushes the oils and sebum deeper into skin. Nothing like clear, smooth skin that has been de-congested, unclogged, purified. Only then can one experience the true benefits of the serums and creams that go on after. The fear of manual extractions arise from certain notions that inexperienced prodding of skin causes more trauma and in turn greater “purging” of toxins and inflammation, which can result in nasty, red cystic acne or a boil.

     

    Treating freshly extracted skin with a session of medical grade LED Lights (415nm Blue light) will go a long way in delivering superior anti-bacterial properties and subsiding active acne. Yellow Light follows to intensively calm skin, prevent unwanted redness and significantly reduce inflammation. The lights we use have 1800 durable, hi quality LEDs to deliver powerful, consistent energies to stimulate natural biological repair mechanisms. To keep pores “clean”, use a serum like Serum Dermopore and Placenta serum on those spots – it helps to continue doing a good job in cleaning out pores, tightening and then healing them to lighten and prevent any scar formation. With these measures in place plus a good diet (with less caffaine and processed sugars), we do have a great chance of improving overall skin.

     

    The Truth About Blue Light

    It’s common knowledge that sun protection is important. But do we know enough about the types of sun rays which are harmful for our eyes and specifically for our skin? We often see sunscreens which promise high SPF protection from UVA and UVB but is that enough? Doctors and scientists are now concluding that if we are serious about preventing photo-ageing, hyper-pigmentation, inflammation, we need to consider the effect of blue light (emitted from the sun AND digital devices like our mobile phones, tablets, TVs, LED lighting etc) on our skin.

    What is Blue Light?
    Referred to as High Energy Visible (HEV Light), it makes up part of the spectrum of visible light. Unlike its counterparts UVA and UVB, Blue Light has the ability to penetrate deeper into the epidermis, expose skin to free radicals, damage DNA, resulting in inflammation and reduction of healthy collagen and elastin.

    The truth is, the only option in the past to counteract the effects of free radicals caused by blue lights was antioxidant serums and even then, there was no formidable protection against it. The recent invention of Beyond Sun Protection offers more than 50% protection against HEV – a medically proven rating that is extremely difficult to achieve. Why 50%? Before you decide to eradicate every bit of Blue Light, it is important to note that blue light is also needed for our cognitive functions, regulate our body’s circadian rhythm and elevate our mood.

    Eye Envy

    Eyes are the window to your soul and a pair of capitvating, youthful and glistening eyes rank high on the beauty stakes across ethnicities. But with great power comes great responsibilities and the eyes (if not taken care of) are often the first tell-tale sign of age.

    The skin surrounding the eye area is extremely delicate and the thinnest compared to other parts of our face. With almost no oil glands, minimal underlying fat and riddled with a web of tiny capiliaries, all these characteristics give rise to problems such as puffiness, milia seeds, sunken-ness, dark circles, fine lines and wrinkles.

    Here are some tips to keep eyes perky and youthful for days to come:

    1. Start early with a good under-eye serum and eye creme. Prevention is better than cure so start as early as you can. Defy the saying that “youth is wasted on the young”. If you are in your 20’s, opt for a lightweight eye gel like Moisturising C Eye Gel. In your 30’s, consider an anti-aging serum like Elastine Pure or eye creme like Prime Contour. For dark circles, consider Oligo Proteins Marines and Creme Contour VIP O2 . This will ensure skin is kept plump and supple. Use only serums at night if you are predisposed to puffy eyes.

    2. Eye massages help with lymphatic drainage of toxins, improving of blood circulation and smoothening of fine lines.

    3. For professional treatments, opt for Plasma Eyelift if you suffer from heavy, droopy eyelids that need a lift. Ultherapy or X-Lift (radio frequency) treatment for eyes go a long way in firming and tightening of eye contours. Medical grade LED light treatments provide a gentle yet effective way to rejuvenate the undereye area. Yellow laser uses a unique wavelength of light to reduce vascular conditions and brighten skin, thus reducing dark eye circles.

    4. Do an eye mask once or twice a week – either the good old fashioned cold cucumber slices or soaked tea bags or Patch Defatigants to reduce puffiness and fatigue and restore vitality.

    5. Adopt a holistic approach to eye care for optimal results. Sleep at least 7 hours and before 2am. The deepest and most regenerative sleep occurs between 10pm and 2am. An hour of sleep before midnight is worth 2 after midnight. Protect eyes against harmful effects of UV rays – opt for sunscreen or UV protection shades. Drink lots of water. Cut down on salt to eliminate puffiness. No smoking to prevent premature sulleness of under eyes. Never rub your eyes unless you want to accelerate the formation of fine lines.

    And if all else fails and you have a red carpet event, choose an oil-free under eye concealer.

    Notes on Sun Protection

    It feels like summer all-year round in Singapore and if there is one thing you certainly cannot live without (especially these past sweltering days), it’s your good old sunscreen. We kick off this series by debunking a few myths and reinstating the facts of sunscreens:

    1. What is a sunscreen?
    The sun emits two types of rays: Ultra Violet A and Ultra Violet B. UVA rays are responsible for the premature ageing of skin, while UVB rays are what cause sunburn and skin cancer. Sunscreens are products that have several active ingredients to help prevent and protect these harmful rays from damaging our skin.

    2. Who needs sunscreen?
    The truth is, anyone over the age of six months should use a sunscreen daily, and this is especially true during the sun soaked months of summer. For those of us parents, start a good practice of applying a suitable baby/children sunscreen from as early as 6 months. This good practice when started this early, will have your kids thanking you for years to come. Even those working indoors are exposed to ultraviolet radiation for brief periods throughout the day, especially if they work near windows, which generally filter out UVB but not UVA rays. And in a time when air travel is just another means to commute, spending time thousands of feet above ground means you are closer to the sun’s harmful rays and should be protected from over exposure (p.s. think twice about that choice of a window seat?). Skin protection is a 365-day job, and not simply for vanity’s sake. According to the American Cancer Society, about 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous skin cancer are diagnosed each year, with another 73,000 melanoma diagnoses (an even more dangerous type) expected this year.

    3. What does SPF mean?
    SPF (Sun Protection Factor), is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB rays from damaging the skin. It generally takes 20 minutes for unprotected skin to start reddening. So using a SPF 15 sunscreen prevents reddening 15 times more or 5 hours. In percentage terms,
    SPF 15 – filters out 92% of UVB rays
    SPF 30 – filters out 97%
    SPF 50 – filters out 98%
    SPF 70 – filters out 99+%

    The percentage variance may seem marginal but under the intense blazing, these extra percentages go an extra long way in protecting your skin. While SPF is an important factor to look for in a sunscreen, the key takeaway is not to negate protection against UVA rays (which causes photo-ageing vs the “reddening” effect) which can sometimes cause more harm to skin (skin cancers) over time. To ensure protection against both UVA and UVB, choose a sunscreen which offers broad spectrum protection, regardless of the SPF level.

    4. Should I choose a Physical or Chemical sunscreen?
    Physical blockers contain natural ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They are best suited to those that struggle with sensitivity, inflammation and redness as no heat is absorbed into the skin. They sit on top of the skin and deflect sun’s rays acting like a shield. Usually thicker in texture, they sometimes can leave a white cast on skin. But being chemical free, this is typically the choice for babies, kids and adults who have sensitive skin.

    Chemical sunscreens are not as thick and usually need to be absorbed into skin at least 20 minutes before heading out. They contain chemical agents to absorb UV light and dissipate as heat energy. The preferred choice for those with blemish prone, dry skin types.

    Chemical Sunscreen is a variant of sunscreen that employs chemical agents to protect against the sun. Chemical agents absorb UV light within the skin and dissipates it as heat energy before they can harm the skin. Chemical sunscreen is the preferred choice for most skin types especially blemish probe, congested, dehydrated, dry and mature skin types. Because it absorbs into skin, it works nicely under make up and keeps it fresh and beautiful without compromising on it protection. No matter how “water resistant” a sunblock may claim to be, the golden rule is to still reapply your sunscreen once you are out of the water and have towelled it off.

    Aerosol sunscreens may seem super convenient – just a spray and you get protection but note that it can cause uneven application and ingredients are usually not as effective and strong as the creme based ones.

    5. How much should I use?
    One of the most common mistakes we make is to use a sunscreen of say 50 or 70 but not apply enough of it. Going too lite on your application means you do not get the full effect of the SPF protection. As a gauge, for your face, use no less than a 5 cent coin dollop of sunscreen. Cover all exposed areas adequately and do not neglect your neck and decolletage. No one likes a 2-colour skin tone on your face and neck 🙂 Apply it 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow ingredients to fully bind to skin. Reapply the same amount every 2 hours or when you perspire profusely or under intense sun.

    And last but not least, with the right protection in place, by all means, enjoy life and what the sun and sea offers.

    For our full range of sunscreens, go to www.freia247.sg. Read about the sunscreens we love on Freia247 Journal.

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