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Post in Acne-Prone Skin

Extreme Maskne

I had clear, glassy skin prior to covid-19 and now my skin broke out really bad in the chin and cheek area. I have tried several things with no success at this point. I have a dermatologist that put me on retin-A that made my skin so much worse so I only use it once a week. I also am on spironolactone. I have been on both of these treatments for 4 months and have had little to no improvement. I have some pictures attached of my current skin conditions. I use ordinary, cerave and korean skincare products. I use a chemical exfoliant once a week. I'm so desperate to get back to my normal skin. Are there any suggestions that you have?IMG_47151.jpgIMG_47161.jpg

Re: Extreme Maskne



Are there any updates on your skin?? Also, please post if you found something that helped! My maskne is flaring up!

Re: Extreme Maskne

Hi! Sorry for the late reply.


I am wondering if the break out originated as fungal acne (Malassezia Folliculitis) caused by heat, humidity, and sweat trapped behind your mask. 


I can't post the link on here, but a thorough, science-based overview of fungal acne is on the website "Simple Skincare Science" (no spaces & add the .com)


Because fungal acne (FA) is caused by an overgrowth of yeast, it requires an entirely different treatment protocol than "regular acne." This could explain why you haven't responded to the Retin-A or OTC products. In fact, many non-active ingredients in skincare products make FA worse, like fatty acids & oils, which FA feeds on.


Per this ingredient analyzer ---, only two of the 6 inactive ingredients in Retin-A are deemed safe/non-triggering for a FA outbreak. This *could* explain why your skin is worsening and/or you could be experiencing a tret purge of course.


Fortunately, FA responds very well to the correct treatment. Patch testing with an OTC anti-fungal, like Ketoconazole (the active ingredient in Nizoral A-D shampoo) will give you answers almost immediately. But, if putting anti-dandruff shampoo on your face sounds scary at this point (i don't blame you!), FA will also respond, albeit not as dramatically/instantly, to some non-anti-fungals, like benzoyl peroxide & sulfur, but you would have to run the product ingredients through the trigger analyzer. For a sulfur-based "safe" product, I recommend Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask


My heart breaks for you. I was in your position about 2 years ago albeit without the addition of daily mask wear. Like you, I had clear, glassy skin & all hell broke lose out of nowhere and it kept getting worse & worse despite treatments, "babying" my skin, not wearing makeup, changing my BC, and spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on medical interventions. Finally, about 6 months in, I discovered that fungal acne is a thing. Out of sheer desperation, I went all in and slathered my face with anti-dandruff shampoo "mask" and saw an immediate response with my skin. Finally, ~2 weeks of alternating the sulfur mask with the shampoo mask, my skin had resolved and I was completely back to my "normal." 

Wishing you the best of luck and hoping that this will end soon for you ❤️ 




Re: Extreme Maskne


Some additional thoughts/recs:

  • Have you always used Cerave? While the majority swear by it, there is something in their product line that causes a severe adverse reaction (allergies, breakouts, etc.) in others. Here is an example: ---
  • Regardless of whether you decide to try an anti-fungal or not, I would give your skin at least a one week break from makeup & all treatments, including cleanser. Instead, rinse with lukewarm water & moisturize. 
  • The majority of k-beauty products are "safe" & rarely contain any acne/FA triggering ingredients. If you are in need of a moisturizer rec, the COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All in one Cream is my holy grail. 
  • If you need to wear makeup, Biossance 100% Sugarcane Squalane Oil 3.4 oz / 100 mL & COSRX low ph Good Morning Gel Cleanser are both safe for makeup removal. 
  • Once you've given your skin a break, reintroduce products very slowly and not before patch testing. 
  • For immediate relief: You may be a good candidate for a HydraFacial as it is gentle/non-invasive yet effective for active acne (though not my area of expertise). 

Re: Extreme Maskne

It is 100% false to claim that K-beauty skincare is somehow safer and doesn't contain triggers for acne. I say this as a lover of Asian skincare and someone who has suffered from acne and used both western and eastern products for years. K-beauty products can trigger acne just as much as western products.

Re: Extreme Maskne

Thank you for your reply! I actually have a sulfur mask incorporated into my weekly routine! I'm using the De La Cruz one and I'm only using it on my problem areas, but I also haven't really seen any improvement. I think my skin is maybe THAT sensitive to the masks we have to wear. I'm just so frustrated because I feel like I have tried it all. 

RE: Extreme Maskne

Sometimes less is more....? Keep your routine simple and clean up your diet. If you’re just chillin a home eating junk food, that’ll make your skin go to sh!t too. Simple routine to me means oil cleanse (to get off sunscreen/makeup) followed by a gentle cleanser (I recommend the one from farmacy), gentler toner (the one from belif), and a hydrating moisturizer (I like DE, belif, & tatcha). Too many exfoliating steps with BHAs, AHAs, benzoyl peroxides, irritating vitamin Cs, cleansing brushes (ie clairsonic) and retinols on top would only aggravate your skin more. More dryness means your skin produces more oil and more oil means more acne. I battled with acne for years too and I would 100% say that diet and skin care routine plays a big role. As for retinols maybe do some research to minimize the irritation? I know there is a purging process but there are gentle retinols out there that won’t drive your skin crazy. Last but not least! You NEED sunscreen!!! In order to prevent acne scars from darkening you need to apply sunscreen everyday (again I love the farmacy brand everything is so gentle on the skin). Take your time to reassess each step of your routine and take out the things that are too stimulating and your skin should bounce back. Good luck on your journey and don’t be shy to ask more questions.

Re: Extreme Maskne

I think you should use a clay face mask as a deep treatment for your face. I recommend the GLAMGLOW SUPERMUD® Charcoal Instant Treatment Mask 3.5 oz/ 100 g it's the only one of its kind to have 6 exfoliating acids in it and it makes your face matte. I leave it on for 15-20 minutes and all of my oil and shininess are gone.

Re: Extreme Maskne

Hey girl! I want to say first I'm sorry for what you're going through and can commiserate here.


I've been experiencing maskne and have combo skin that is typically non-problematic. This is what has helped me:


Personal Face Coverings- I used to use surgical disposable masks but have switched to cotton. The disposable ones are rough and cause "acne mechanica" from a combination inflammation, hair follicles, and humidity. The air pockets these create also makes for a very humid environment which exacerbates the condition. I would use a clarifying mask the night before, go to bed, and wake up with soothed and clearer skin in the AM. However, after removing my disposable mask after only an hour, my skin would look oily, red, and have a million bumps. I have switched to a cotton mask from Amazon. I've heard silk is best on skin so I'm looking into one of those. Masks should be washed nightly with a fragrance-free detergent that you are not allergic to. If you have to use a disposable mask, it should be discarded daily and not reused.


It is important to note that surgical masks are dipped in formaldehyde to sanitize them. I discovered that I am one of the many people who are very allergic to it. For me it causes breathing problems, dermatitis, and typical allergy symptoms that can be quite severe as the mask is literally on your face.


Gentle Products- Counterintuitive as it may seem, you should not use harsh clarifying products on your skin as personal face masks roughen and irritate the skin, and using harsh products after further exacerbate the condition. It is important to know that face masks create inflammation in the skin. The gentler the products, the better. I've started to use SEPHORA COLLECTION Clarifying Peel Pads 60 Pads at night which contain a natural salicylic acid that is gentle on the skin but clarifying at the same time. The bonus is that they work super quickly and are affordable.


Streamlining Skincare Routine- I also stopped using my serums flat-out. I used to use a pre-serum, serum and moisturizer, which made my skin look great. Serums actually draw moisture from the air which is how they make your skin dewy. Using a face mask creates a greenhouse on your face, and adding serums just makes up the humidity and congestion on your face a million times, leading to zits. I stopped using serums at night too, because my skin just doesn't need it anymore. Now I use toner, moisturizer, eye cream and neck cream. I also double cleanse always now.


Streamlining Makeup Routine- No makeup where the mask touches, especially cream formulas. Powders such as blushes are okay but they won't last. Coverage won't work with a mask because when you remove it, it's gone. I only focus on eye makeup and have stopped with lip colour (so difficult for me!) because they have moisture which gets trapped in the mask, too and cause bumps around the mouth.


I hope these tips help your skin. I advise you to read up on this using keyword searches from what I've mentioned as information seems to be difficult to get. No one wants to flat out say "Masks are terrible for your skin." The key is to not overload your skin with harsh products, because it is making the condition worse and creating a cycle. 


I've still not fully recovered from maskne, but my situation has improved a lot and I wish you all the best!

Re: Extreme Maskne

Hi! I understand the struggle of figuring out how to help your skin! My skin has TRANSFORMED since using Proactiv products. A holy grail for me. I will say that sometimes skincare products are worse before they get better - if you don’t see any results after a month, move on. 

I hope you and whoever’s reading this have a magical day ❤️ It’s a new week! And no matter what you look like, what you are insecure about, you are beautiful ❤️

Re: Extreme Maskne

@ambermurp96 Please don't add in something like proactiv without talking to your derm. Proactiv has some harsh formulations and given that you're already using prescription strength products, could lead to even more irritation or damage. I'd highly recommend talking to your derm about a change in the products they've prescribed you or about what you might add to help them. 

Re: Extreme Maskne

Proactiv 90 Day 3-Step Acne Set 

Proactiv Solutions Renewing Cleanser 

Re: Extreme Maskne

@ambermurp96 if you're going to layer in any more actives I'd really recommend running them past your derm first. The prescriptions that you have can make a lot of OTC products more irritating and may dictate when and how often you should use them.  


As a heads up with retinol products I was told be an aestheticians that 12 weeks would be a totally normally period of time to experience purging with once a week use.

RE: Extreme Maskne

Slow but steady! Listen to your derm. Sometimes your skin purges and breaks out more from new products - it can be scary at first but then the end result is what you wanted. Keep your routines simple. Hydrate and sunscreen. Trust me I know it’s HARD. I was on accutane for a year and a half and I wish I didn’t pick and prod and try and do so much or I would have considerably less scaring. You got this Gf ❤️❤️

Re: Extreme Maskne

Hi @ambermurp96!


Try spraying a salicylic serum onto your mask and let it air dry before putting your mask on.  I saw this tutorial by Dr. Pimple Popper.  She's super famous and has her own show on Hulu.


You can also apply something like the Sunday Riley U.F.O. Salicylic Acid BHA Treatment Face Oil 1.18 oz/ 35 mL or Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Stress Rescue Super Serum with Niacinamide 1 oz/ 30 mL on your face before putting your mask on.

I love Sunday Riley UFO.  It has salicylic acid in it which not only fights acne but also kills the bacteria that causes acne in order to prevent future breakouts.  Salicylic acid shouldn't be used at the same time as retinol tho.

I would stop wearing any makeup under your mask to prevent maskne as well.

Re: Extreme Maskne

Girl, I hope this isn’t weird, but I’m going to be totally honest and tell you that I creeped your page and replies and you seem to know what you’re talking about when it comes to skin care. 😂 I’m having the same problem as the OP and am wondering if you have any recommendations for a salicylic acid serum? Does it actually come as a spray, or would you just pour it into a spray bottle?  I appreciate your advice! ☺️

Re: Extreme Maskne

Skin products with vitamin C will help even your skin complexion and repair the damaged skin! Works wonders. 

Re: Extreme Maskne

I'd try anything that's oil free and has sunscreen. Also the sobel cream is an amazing product that clears skin and so much more 

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