Tips to Treat and Prevent Maskne Breakouts

In order to curb the transmission of Covid-19 infections, the world has seen a change in attitudes towards wearing masks. Although initially met with resistance from renown organizations, the WHO and politicians including Trump have changed their tune over the past few months. Singapore which used to discourage citizens from wearing masks now make it compulsory to wear one outside or risk a fine of S $300 while one can be arrested or punished for not wearing a mask in China.

It is imperative to wear masks to protect ourselves and others as a published study of cases found that those with asymptomatic symptoms could have been responsible for nearly 80% of positive virus cases. As countries battle against the second waves and reinfections, it looks like we have to accept wearing masks as the new normal.

The little amount of time we spend wearing a mask while making trips to the grocery store or walking our pets can result in acne, rashes and blackheads according to the American Academy of Dermatology. A study in China showed that frontline healthcare workers were especially susceptible to skin issues related due to wearing masks for a long period of time. Although this is unsightly and annoying, we shouldn’t let bad skin prevent us from wearing masks. In this article, we compiled a series of tips and tricks to remedy and prevent the formation of Maskne.

What is Maskne?

Maskne, a clever combination of “mask” and “acne” refer to breakouts caused by sweat, oil and bacteria that interact and irritate the skin under the mask. This type of breakout is specifically caused by masks where else other breakouts are caused by other factors such as hereditary issues or hormones.

How to treat maskne?

No matter how well we try to take care of our skin, we still risk breaking out. We compiled a list of tips and tricks from the American Academy of Dermatology Association on how to treat maskne.

Different symptoms require different methods of treatment. It is always suggested to consult your dermatologist before trying out any treatments.

  • Acne: It is advised to wash your face no more than twice a day to prevent skin from being inflamed due to too much washing. Use non-comedogenic moisturizer after washing. Monitor how your skin reacts to face masks. If a new brand of face masks causes or worsens your acne, consult a board-certified dermatologist for the best way to treat your skin.
  • Raw, irritated skin: Use spot treatment and apply petroleum jelly to inflamed parts of your face before bed. Petroleum jelly acts as an emollient that softens and soothes the skin.

Skip the makeup when wearing a mask: Makeup may collect dirt and bacteria that clogs pores and lead to breakouts. If make up is necessary, select mineral based cosmetic products which are “non-comedogenic” ( does not clog the pores).

Wash your cloth face masks: This may sound like the obvious thing to do but it is crucial to wash your mask properly to remove germs and oil from irritating your skin and prevent bacteria from breeding. Masks is advised to be washed by hand or washing machine after each use according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is advised to strictly follow washing instructions and to use a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic laundry detergent to prevent skin irritation.

How to Avoid Maskne?

Cleanse and moisturize daily: Dry skin can result from long periods of using face masks. Apply moisturizer immediately after washing your face to reduce dryness. Bear in mind to choose a mild, fragrance-free cleanser to prevent further skin irritation. Board-certified dermatologist Carrie L. Kovarik, MD, FAAD, recommends using a moisturizer with one of the following ingredients:

When selecting a moisturizer which is the best fit for your skin type, here is a reference compiled by the American Academy of Dermatology Association.

Skip the makeup when wearing a mask: Makeup may collect dirt and bacteria that clogs pores and lead to breakouts. If make up is necessary, select mineral based cosmetic products which are “non-comedogenic” ( does not clog the pores).

Wash your cloth face masks: This may sound like the obvious thing to do but it is crucial to wash your mask properly to remove germs and oil from irritating your skin and prevent bacteria from breeding. Masks is advised to be washed by hand or washing machine after each use according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is advised to strictly follow washing instructions and to use a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic laundry detergent to prevent skin irritation.

Avoid trying new skin care products: Wearing a mask can make skin more sensitive than normal. Hence, resist the urge to try harsh products during this time to avoid skin problems. Daniela Kroshinsky, MD, MPH, FAAD advises us to avoid chemical peels, exfoliants or retinoids, and instead stick to the cosmetic products that we are familiar with.

Wear the right mask: Here is a description of what makes a good mask, according to The American Academy of Dermatology Association .

Synthetic fabrics such as nylon, polyester and rayon are advised to be avoided as they have a higher probability of instigating breakouts. A snug, comfortable fit is important as we are more likely to adjust a mask that doesn’t fit well and introduce germs to our faces. Furthermore, the poor fitting may end up irritating skin and causing acne.

Hydrocortisone, A Step Back for Eczema Sufferers


Hydrocortisone is a common facial steroid cream used to treat Eczema, but should you use it? Before you read this article, I highly suggest you read 1Source’s article on steroid creams and how harmful they can be.

What is Hydrocortisone?

Hydrocortisone creams area a type of medicine known as a ‘steroid’. They are used on the skin to treat various conditions like swelling, itching and irritation. It is a common steroid cream for Eczema and are considered to be quite mild. The majority of hydrocortisone creams are mild at 1% strength, but can go up to 2.5% (25mg hydrocortisone in each gram of cream).

Pharmacy’s can only hydrocortisone creams up a maximum strength of 1%. To get a stronger cream, you must contact your doctor and get a prescription.

Hydrocortisone is not recommended for children under 10 years. It can be prescribed by a doctor. All instructions from a doctor should be followed when applying hydrocortisone as it can be damaging. The recommended time period to use the cream is no longer than a week. The cream cannot be used by anyone trying to get pregnant, are pregnant or breastfeeding.

How should I use hydrocortisone?

The amount of cream that should be used is measured by fingertip units. One fingertip should be enough for an area that is the size of your hand. You should definitely not go over the recommended amount.

Hydrocortisone is better for skin which is moist and weepy, with clear or yellow fluid. As it is a thicker and greasier ointment, it is better for dry or flaky areas of skin.

It is recommended to not use hydrocortisone with other creams at the same time. A good time period is at least 10 minutes between products. In an ideal situation, you should use the different products at different times of the day.

What is in Hydrocortisone creams?

The main ingredient in Hydrocortisone cream is, hydrocortisone! A generally safe ingredient, but it should be noted that it is suspected of damaging fertility and can cause damage to organs through prolonged/repeated exposure. It has many potential health concerns and benefits, which emphasises the importance of following the instructions of the product.

Hydrocortisone creams can have other ingredients. Consumers should always check the ingredients label, as they can contain harmful ingredients.

Walgreens Hydrocortisone Cream 1% Maximum Strength Aloe

Walgreen’s Hydrocortisone Cream 1% Maximum Strength Aloe has two harmful ingredients that come with the steroid cream. It has Benzyl Alcohol and Methylparaben, both which can cause skin irritation. To view all the ingredients in the product, you use 1Source.com to decode the product and analyse the ingredients for you! Click here.

Should I Use Hydrocortisone?

Unless you have severe Eczema, you should avoid steroid creams, especially on the face. There has been links with excessive use of steroid creams can cause thinning of the skin, making it more prone to outbreaks.

I went off hydrocortisone creams and saw great improvements when adopting a simple skincare routine for my face. It should be noted that in the short term, steroid creams can have an effect. In the long term, there is more damage. To read my story, click here.

What is TSW?

Red Skin Syndrome, or Tropical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW) are a result of long term users of tropical steroids stopping their usage. TSW can include the following symptoms:

  • Red skin
  • Burning sensation
  • Itchiness

Tropical steroids have been used for over 50 years in treating eczema and atopic dermatitis. To this day, it still remains one of the most effective drugs in dermatology as it works directly with the natural system in the body.

It must be noted that the condition does not occur with normal use. It generally requires the application of a tropical steroid like hydrocortisone at least daily for more than a year.

For more information on TSW visit here.

References

5 Beauty Ingredients You Should Avoid

Ingredient labels on beauty products can be extremely confusing, and it may feel like you need a degree in chemistry to understand terms like Glycolic acid and parabens. The chemical jargon is due to the usage of International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) system to standardize the naming of ingredients globally. The results? It makes no sense to shoppers.

We come into contact with more than 500 chemicals and toxic substances everyday, according to Medical News Today. It is impossible to avoid chemicals completely, but what we can do is be aware of ingredients that are linked to serious health issues and avoid products that contain certain harmful ingredients and reduce our exposure to them. To make things easy, we have compiled 10 beauty ingredients that you should be wary of.

1. Parabens

Parabens are commonly found in shampoos, moisturizers and body lotions

Rating on 1Source:

Use:

  • Preservatives
  • Fragrances within cosmetic products

Warnings:

  • May cause an allergic reaction and irritation to skin
  • Parabens have been found to interfere with hormone functions as it interferes with estrogen, which causes cancer cells to divide

Laws and Legislation:

  • In Taiwan, the “Standard Table for Cosmetic Preservatives” is limited to 1%

2. Triclosan

Triclosan is commonly found in consumer products, including toothpaste, soaps, detergents and sunscreens.

Rating on 1Source:

Use:

  • Antiseptic / Disinfectant
  • antibacterial and antifungal agent 

Warnings:

  • may cause low-grade colonic inflammation and exacerbate colon-associated diseases
  • Persistence in the human body despite only being exposed to small concentrations

Laws and Legislation:

  • FDA has removed Triclosan from GRAS as of 19 Dec 2017
  • Banned in the EU market since 2017
  • Banned in all sunscreen products from January 1 2020 by the Republic of Palau to protect its coral reefs and UNESCO World Heritage Site

3. Phenoxyethanol

Phenoxyethanol is a colorless liquid with a pleasant odor, it’s most famous appearance in Kylie Jenner’s skincare line. This naturally found or synthetically manufactured compound is a glycol ether used as a perfume fixative, insect repellent, antiseptic, solvent, preservative.

Rating on 1Source:

Use:

  • Actively kills and inhibits the growth of unwanted microorganisms which may be harmful
  • Antioxidant
  • Prevents growth of unwanted microorganisms
  • Used to treat, alleviate, cure or prevent sickness
  • Preservative-

Cons:

  • May cause central nervous system toxicity in newborns
  • May cause a localized toxic sensation of burning and itching to exposed area
  • May be responsible for starting or make neuronal cell damage worse

Laws and Legislation:

  • EU SCCS has classified phenoxyethanol as safe for use as a preservative with a maximum concentration of 1.0%
  • Banned in all sunscreen products from January 1 2020 by the Republic of Palau to protect its coral reefs and UNESCO World Heritage Site

4. Hydroquinone

Produced as an inhibitor, an antioxidant, and an intermediate in the synthesis of dyes, motor fuels, and oils; in photographic processing; and naturally in certain plant species, Hydroquinone is a phenol derivative with antioxidant properties.

Rating on 1Source:

Use:

  • Skin lightening agent
  • Antioxidant – Reduces oxidation to prevent the formation of free radicals which may be harmful to health.

How it works: The chemical inhibits skin discoloration process by interacting with melanin producing cells and decreasing production of pigment

Warnings:

  • It is effective only temporarily and may lighten the surrounding skin, creating “halo” spots, or white spots on your skin
  • Hydroquinone is a phenol derivative with antioxidant properties that can cause toxicity in several organs

5. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colorless poisonous gas synthesized by the oxidation of methanol and used as an antiseptic, disinfectant, histologic fixative, and general-purpose chemical reagent for laboratory applications. It is commonly found in nail polish, hair products, moisturizers.

Rating on 1 Source:

Use:

  • Serves as an antimicrobial preservative that actively kills and inhibits the growth of unwanted microorganisms which may be harmful
  • Acts as a stabilizer and retains the physical characteristics of cosmetics by ensuring the mixture remains in an even state

Warnings:

  • Toxicity
  • Volatility

Laws and Legislation:

  • In 2011, the US National Toxicology Program described formaldehyde as “known to be a human carcinogen”
  • Classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer
  • Hong Kong Consumer Council has implied that formaldehyde should not be present in school uniform materials

Fenty Skin is Deceptive to their Audience

In July 2020, megastar Rihanna announced she was launching a skin care brand called Fenty Skin under the Fenty Beauty brand. Her line which consists of a serum, cleanser and moisturizer was released in August 2020.

Who is Rihanna?

Rihanna gained global recognition following the release of her first two studio albums, ‘Music of the Sun’ (2005) and ‘A Girl Like Me’ (2006) which peaked within the top ten of the US Billboard 200 chart. Since then, she has sold over 250 million records, making her one of the world’s best selling artists. Her accolades are vast, including 9 Grammy Awards.

What is Fenty Skin?

Inspired by her global lifestyle, Fenty Skin is a skin care line driven by Rihanna after having bad encounters with products in the past. The line prioritizes clean formulas that are vegan and gluten free, with an Earth-conscious approach to their packaging.

The line recommends a simple 3 step plan for skin care starters.

FENTY SKIN TOTAL CLEANS'R REMOVE-IT-ALL CLEANSER

Step 1: Remove and Cleanse

FENTY SKIN FAT WATER PORE-REFINING TONER SERUM

Step 2: Tone and Treat

FENTY SKIN HYDRA VIZOR INVISIBLE MOISTURIZER BROAD SPECTRUM SPF 30 SUNSCREEN

Step 3: Hydrate and Protect

Fenty Skin Deceptive Marketing?

Use together to brighten skin, reduce the look of pores and target dark spots. Clean, vegan, Earth-conscious.

According the 1Source system, there are a number of ‘use sparingly’ ingredients in the Fenty Skin products. An example of one of the harsh ingredients is Benzyl Salicylate, which can cause allergic skin reaction, serious eye irritation and has potential health concerns for dermatitis users.

Though there is one ingredient that stands out that makes Fenty Skin deceptive in their marketing campaign, Phenoxyethanol.

Phenoxyethanol – Not Earth-Conscious

Phenoxyethanol is a colorless liquid with a pleasant odor. It is a glycol ether used as a perfume fixative, insect repellent, antiseptic, solvent, preservative, and also as an anesthetic in fish aquaculture.

Phenoxyethanol is rapidly absorbed through the skin within 24 hours. It can cause a localized toxic sensation of burning and itching through the exposure of dermal tissues. Phenoxyethanol showed the lowest cytotoxicity out of most parabens and triclosans, though human patch tests showed it to have a higher skin irritation potential compared to methylparaben and triclosan.

 The EU SCCS has classified phenoxyethanol as safe for use as a preservative with a maximum concentration of 1.0%. However, care should still be taken when using products with phenoxyethanol, given its potential as a skin irritant.

Safety and Hazards

  • Harmful if swallowed
  • Causes skin irritation
  • Causes serious eye irritation
  • May cause drowsiness or dizziness

Potential Health Concerns For:

  • Dermatitis, Atopic

Palau Sunscreen Ban

Since January 2020, the Republic of Palau issued a new law that banned skincare products containing Phenoxyethanol as it is a known environmental pollutant chemical that can be incredibly toxic to juvenile stages of many wildlife species in the ocean.

Fenty Beauty Harmful?

Fenty Beauty also has harmful ingredients according to the 1Source.com system. Fenty Beauty boasts it is suitable for all skin types. Lets take a closer at some of the products that have the highest Potential Risk Index.

FENTY BEAUTY By Rihanna Pro Kiss'R Duo: Scrubstick + Lip Balm Set
FENTY BEAUTY By Rihanna Pro Kiss'R Luscious Lip Balm

The two Fenty Beauty lip balms have an ingredient that scores a 10. Red 30 Lake is a colorant that is added in order to change or enhance the color. According to the regulatory references, it is a substance prohibited for cosmetic products in the EU. It also is highly toxic for aquatic life with long lasting effects.

FENTY BEAUTY By Rihanna Snow Daze & Snow Nights Frosted Metal Lipstick 3-Pc Set

The three piece lipstick set by Fenty Beauty has a number of alarming ingredients. An alarming ingredient called polyethylene is the one that stands out as it has a number of safety hazards.

Polyethylene may cause respiratory irritation, drowsiness or dizziness. It can cause damage to organs through prolonged or repeated use.

Polytheylene is in a number of Fenty Beauty products and we recommend you use our 1Source system to analyse the ingredients in a product. To view the most highest potential risk Fenty Beuaty products, click the link here.

5 Lies “Cruelty Free” Brands Tell You

It’s a fact. Skincare brands, cosmetic products and household products with the cute “cruelty free” bunny logo are more likely to get snatched off the shelf than products without the logo. While some brands actually uphold a code of ethics and values, others may use the “cruelty free” stamp, simply as a marketing hype. Contrary to popular belief, there is no standard or legal definition for the term “cruelty free”, giving brands free reign to abuse the term to suit their personal agendas. Yikes.

In a grey area of vague claims and misleading play on words, here is why you should be cautious about “cruelty free”. Always, always, always cross check your sources and ask questions when things don’t seem right.

Here’s why you should be cautious about “cruelty free” stamps

#1

Businesses may claim they don’t test on animals, but engage in third parties to do the testing of products and/or ingredients for them.

The rationale is that the testings are being done by independent laboratories and has no ties to them, however businesses should take responsibility and ownership of how their products are produced and distributed.

#2

This play on words is a bald faced lie aimed to misguide consumers when the product is not tested but the raw ingredients were.

Most of the time, safety testings are done at an ingredient level. Just how many companies actually source raw ingredients and make their products from scratch? Most businesses engage suppliers to purchase raw ingredients hence, it is crucial that they confirm that the suppliers are cruelty free to ensure the legitimacy of their claim.

#3

Companies often like claiming they are “cruelty free” simply because of the psychological effects it’ll have on its consumers.

In reality, the label has no standard or legal definition, allowing brands to openly abuse and use the label in order to suit their agendas without any legal consequences.

#4

Companies may have strong stances and views for anti cruelty, such as “we don’t test on animals”, however, they follow up with a “except when required by the law”, painting the picture of animal testing as a unavoidable rule they may have to succumb to.

This play on words is very common for businesses who wish to enter China markets as it is a legal necessity for products to be tested on animals. Companies who wish to tap in to the China market should own up and be transparent about their market choice and decisions, instead of shifting the blame to third parties and independent laboratories.

China's Animal Testing Laws
Credit: Ethical Elephant

Dilemma: Building a Cruelty Free Ecosystem

We’ve seen rapid change and awareness in businesses regarding animal cruelty within their productions, but not enough care for humans and the environment. It is crucial that the whole production chain of supplying, manufacturing, all the way down to distribution and decomposition harms as little lives as possible. Can businesses really claim their products as cruelty free if they harm other inhabitants of the ecosystem?

For example:

  • Titanium dioxide , an ingredient largely used as a physical sunscreen is classified as carcinogenic by the WHO. The particles of titanium oxide are smaller than micro beads, making its dust hazardous to health leaving workers manufacturing this product vulnerable to lung cancer. Furthermore, at the end of its shelf life, nano particles end up in the ocean as our current waste management system is inept at filtering nano particles. Fishes end up eating the particles, and we end up poisoned as we consume fish.

1Source view: 1Source aims to empower consumers with ingredient awareness such that they are able to use our site, scan the ingredients within their household products and determine for themselves if the products are harmful to the livelihood of others

The dream will be to cultivate all products with minimal harmful ingredients such that a cleaner supply chain is built, leading to a more sustainable world. It is crucial that we need to build consumer awareness such that consumers know how to purchase products that do not contain harmful ingredients. Harmful ingredients cause more trouble than its worth, as workers involved in production will reap its negative effects, and at the end of the shelf live, should the product containing toxic ingredients is disposed inappropriately, the harmful ingredients will find its way back to harm the environment, and in a matter of time, us.