I combat maskne in a tropical country with this daily skincare regime

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·Lifestyle Editor
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I was known for my flawless skin. Friends asked me about my skincare routine, and strangers praised my mum and me for similarly blemish-free skin. Genetics have been kind to me: my routine was a single cleanser and the occasional masks. Before you think I'm humble-bragging, I'm not, because the critical takeaway here is that maskne happened to me, and has outstayed its welcome.

Wearing masks, coupled with stress over the past years, have plunged my skin into bumpy, discoloured and pockmarked territory. And it's not just me, people have complained to various degrees about the skin woes masks have caused – enlarged pores and maskne being the most commonly brought up.

After learning how to deal with stress, plus trial and error with skincare for the past year, I've worked out a routine that has worked for me in Singapore's weather. It's cleared my skin and kept the dreaded mask acne at bay, so I can now focus on reducing the marks left behind.

The routine was adapted from the 7/8/10/12-step Korean skincare routine and dumbed down a little for slightly lazy people like me. If you're suffering from the same ailments, here's my daily skincare routine for reference.

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Day time

1) Wake up and wash with water only

Instead of stripping your skin off the oil that will protect it during the day, washing with water is a gentler method to wake your skin up for the day. Gently dry cleaned face with a face towel.

2) Tone to remove impurities

I place my toner in the fridge, a trick my mum taught me that supposedly helped reduce pore size. The toner I use has both AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) and BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid) to cut through the oil and purify my pores from within.

SOMEBYMI Brand Box - [Bundle of 2] AHA-BHA-PHA 30days Miracle Toner [150ml], S$23

SOME BY MI AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner
SOMEBYMI AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner (Photo: Shopee)

Generally, I found that products by Somebymi are generally gentle on acne-prone skin without drying it out.

SOMEBYMI on iHerb

3) Sun and environment protection for your daily activities

If I'm at home, I tend to just slap on a daily moisturiser after toning.

DOERS OF LONDON Hydrating Face Cream, S$40

Doers of London Hydrating Face Cream (Photo: Sephora)
Doers of London Hydrating Face Cream (Photo: Sephora)

And if I need to head out, I'll spritz on sunscreen. My go-to (which I stocked up a lot on) is The Body Shop Skin Defence Multi-Protection Face Mist SPF45 PA++. But, it's now out of stock, so I would suggest this instead:

SOMEBYMI Truecica Aqua Soothing & Calming Sunscreen, from S$14.50

SOMEBYMI Truecica Aqua Soothing & Calming Sunscreen, from S$14.50 (Photo: Shopee)
SOMEBYMI Truecica Aqua Soothing & Calming Sunscreen, from S$14.50 (Photo: Shopee)

Night Time

1) Cleanse your face at the end of the day

It's essential to clean off impurities from your face at the end of the day. I lean towards cleansers that don't give me the "squeaky clean" feeling because that would mean your skin has been stripped of its natural protective oil. Here are the three cleansers I use on a rotational basis.

THE ORDINARY Squalane Cleanser, S$16
SIMPLE Kind to Skin Moisturising Facial Wash 150ml, S$14.90 
Australian Pink Clay - Deep Pore Cleanser, S$44
L-R: THE ORDINARY Squalane Cleanser, S$16/SIMPLE Kind to Skin Moisturising Facial Wash 150ml, S$14.90/Australian Pink Clay - Deep Pore Cleanser, S$44

THE ORDINARY Squalane Cleanser, S$16

SIMPLE Kind to Skin Moisturising Facial Wash 150ml, S$14.90

Australian Pink Clay - Deep Pore Cleanser, S$44

Related: This one ingredient restored my eczema skin and I can face the world again!

2) Tone again

See point number 2 above on toner. I've LIVED for the SOMEBYMI toner ever since discovering it.

3) Microcurrent + Serum treatment

This is a new inclusion of mine into my daily routine.

Using five intensities of microcurrent technology and T-sonic pulsations, Foreo Bear is a microcurrent device that helps lift, tone and re-contour areas prone to ageing. Its non-invasive design minimises wrinkles while targeting sagging skin, such as the jawline, cheeks, neck and forehead.

After using it, I realised that not only has my skin tightened, but it also helped with the absorption of whatever I applied to my face. I can only imagine that the serum is truly penetrating the skin.

FOREO Bear Microcurrent Facial Toning Device With 5 Intensities (Photo: Currentbody)
FOREO Bear Microcurrent Facial Toning Device With 5 Intensities (Photo: Currentbody)

Buy FOREO Bear Microcurrent Facial Toning Device Here

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For serum, I use Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum 80ml, S$35.10.

4) Essence

I also treat my skin with an extra shot of hydration with the SK-II Treatment Essence, from S$108.

5) Let sleep does its job

I love Innisfree's sleeping pack series and stocked up around two years' worth of it when I last went to Korea. My favourite one is the Green Tea Sleeping Pack, but in Singapore, I can only find the Aloe Revital one, which is excellent for soothing troubled skin.

Innisfree Aloe Revital Sleeping Pack, S$20

Innisfree Aloe Revital Sleeping Pack
Innisfree Aloe Revital Sleeping Pack

Use these when necessary/as a treat

1) Pimple patches

Pimple patches are a lifesaver for overnight pimple eruptions. The ones I use are very thin and hardly noticeable when used.

LANBENA Acne Pimple Patch (Daily use), S$6.90

LANBENA Acne Pimple Patch (Night use), S$6.90

2) Facial Masks

If there's a mask I swear by, it's Mediheal N.M.F Aquaring set, which is incredibly soothing on the skin. Unfortunately, it's a little hard to find authentic ones in the market, so check that they are imported directly from South Korea. I found a set for fans of Korean boyband BTS, with a box of 10 masks with 14 BTS photo cards!

Mediheal x BTS HYDRATING Special Care Set N.M.F Aquaring Teatree Mask, S$27

3) Edibles

The soothing nature of a bird's nest and the stimulant nature of citron tea and its essential oils can help the skin. If anything, they're also yummy to boot!

Kinohimitsu Bird's Nest with Collagen, S$43.90 (1 for 1 deal available right now!)

Korea Favourite Honey Citron Tea 1kg + Jeju Citron Tea 1kg

Skincare differs from person to person, and most often than not, there is a lot of trial and error to go through and not to mention, plenty of wasted money. I hope that this particular roadmap for someone in Singapore who has conquered mask acne will be helpful for you!

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