As a teenager I barely had any pimples. Yes, even I am jealous of 15-year-old me. I would usually get closed comedones or white heads, probably because I wasn’t exfoliating enough. Some of these would turn into pimples but these were few and far apart. It was never traumatising and I never felt conscious of my skin.
When I turned 30, I was expecting to go through life with clear, blemish free skin. Instead, I had really painful, “blind” pimples that would leave marks whether I tried to squeeze them or not. I never left the house without foundation during that time. No one had warned me about adult hormonal acne or that it could be triggered by certain foods. And my trigger was dairy. Once I cut out dairy, my skin cleared up.
In the last two years like many others, I developed acne mechanica. Also known as maskne, it is caused because of friction and pressure from wearing a mask for long hours. The mask also traps heat, humidity, sweat, sebum and dirt which make the perfect recipe for clogged pores, whiteheads and pimples. I get these where the mask tends to rub against my face.
Over the years I have tried many ways to deal with my acne. What works time and again along with avoiding trigger foods is gentle but regular exfoliation and treating and controlling acne gently. Keeping my skin hydrated is also important because it results in a strong skin barrier that is better able to defend itself against acne causing bacteria. Here are some of the products I use to help with that.
Sigi Skin Bright Skies, $58
The clear gel is a blend of goji berries, pumpkin and spinach extracts, and feels like a deep cleaning smoothie for your face. Applied on to clean skin, it sloughs away dead skin cells making it less likely for them to collect in your pores The clear gel is a blend of goji berries, pumpkin and spinach extracts, and feels like a deep cleaning smoothie for your face. Applied on to clean skin, it sloughs away dead skin cells making it less likely for them to collect in your pores and cause acne. There are no harsh beads or nut shells and it doesn’t leave skin feeling tight and uncomfortable. It can also be used on skin around the eyes and on the lips.
RE:ERTH Barrier Control, $87
This lightweight serum is packed with ingredients that tackle existing acne, minimise chances of more breakouts, firm and smooth skin—all without drying skin or causing any irritation. You can apply it as a spot treatment or all over the face. Plus, it is absorbed in seconds making it extremely easy to layer under your moisturiser. It has helped me deal with maskne on multiple occasions.
CELLOOM Build Your Own Cream, $69
This rich moisturiser envelopes skin in hydration, locking in moisture and keeping harmful elements out without feeling heavy or looking greasy. It has 50 per cent Aronia Extracts which have antioxidant benefits to help neutralise free radicals, nourishing marula seed oil that conditions skin, and beta glucan that keeps skin soft and plump. It’s easy to layer over all my serums, doesn’t pill and acts as a good base for makeup.
N.B: I am not a doctor, I am simply sharing what worked for me. If you have persistent acne please see a dermatologist.
About Smita DeSouza is a beauty industry insider with over 10 years of experience in beauty journalism. In her late 30s, she welcomes the wisdom, confidence and resilience that age brings, but not the pigmentation and loss of collagen. Follow her skincare rituals here.