If you have acne-prone skin, the thought of ANYTHING touching your face causes a lot of anxiety. We change out our pillow cases regularly, never share makeup brushes, tie our hair up every night and have been masters of the “no hands on your face” rule forever.
It’s another reason wearing a mask for any extended period of time can cause anxiety. But we’re doing it. Daily. Because it’s the right thing to do. Acne or no acne.
I am lucky to be able to work from home. I wear a mask when I leave the house, but it’s usually only on my face for a few hours, maximum. I bought several cotton masks I could wash after every use and was diligent about never wearing the same one twice. But guess what? I could still see the pores on my chin, jaw and nose getting clogged. I paired back my topicals, forgoing all makeup, and I would still have some whiteheads and blackheads pop up the next day. Such is the reality for acne-prone skin.
I knew I needed to take some additional steps to keep a few pimples from turning into the breakouts I used to experience, especially because my skin scars very easily. It’s important to note my skin is well conditioned to acids and retinol, so if you’re just starting out, make sure to consult your dermatologist and/or work with an esthetician (many are doing virtual consultations, like the spa that changed my face, Rescue Spa).
Here are the items I’ve included in my routine that have helped keep my skin clear, even as the temps in NYC have risen and I’ve spent more time in a mask as of late:
The Cleanser: iS Clinical Cleansing Complex — This cleanser is so gentle but really does leave my skin feeling so fresh and clean thanks to white willow bark and vitamins A, C and E. It honestly smells like a swimming pool to me but not in the chemical sense, haha. I know that probably makes no sense. I like to use it in the morning because I do wake up with a solid sheen of oil on my skin and this wash never makes my skin feel dry or tight. I’ve also noticed a reduction in blackheads, especially on my chin. Sometimes, I use it at night, too.
The Mask: Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant — I’ve used this mask for years and written about it here many times. But what I’ve done differently lately is add a pinch of baking soda (don’t scream) and a drop of water to it. Mix those together and it froths up as you apply it. Used twice a week after P50, it’s been a game changer, especially on my cheeks and chin. I always follow it with a hydrating mask, like this one from Skin Inc used with this tool to combat inflammation.
The Daytime Serum: SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense — I wanted an acne serum for an adult, not a teenager. Plain and simple. This one fights breakouts and discoloration with salicylic and dioic acids as well as fine lines. It tingles a bit when you’re first getting used to it but it never caused any dryness.
The Nighttime Serum: Shani Darden Retinol Reform — I decided quarantine was a good time to up my retinol game. I now use this serum five nights a week (the other two I use these glycolic peel pads) and the results were worth the wait. My skin is consistently clear and smooth when I wake up thanks to the gentle but effective combo of encapsulated retinol and lactic acid. But remember, retinol is a marathon, not a sprint. Like a long ass marathon. No cheating.
And these are the rules I’ve been adhering to to further keep my skin happy and clear:
1. Skip the foundation. I may use some concealer around my eyes, but nothing under the mask.
2. Change out my mask as often as possible. If it gets sweaty at all, it’s time for a new one. I like to keep an extra in my bag. These from Hanes are great.
3. Wash my hands before touching my face, even between certain steps in my routine. If I apply body lotion while a serum absorbs, I wash my hands, etc.
4. Keep skin hydrated. Being indoors with the AC on or wearing a mask, both make me feel like moisture is being pulled out of my skin. In addition to using a moisturizer, I’m using a balancing mist all day. If my skin feels extra dry, I like to add this facial oil. And if I’m using a mask for detoxing or purifying the skin, I always follow it with one for hydration.
5. Give your skin some greens. I start every day with a cup of green tea sweetened with Manuka honey for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. I’ve also added this green mask to my routine once a week.