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This Is The Secret To Combating Maskne

Fresh start.

By now, you're likely to be more than familiar with the skincare woe that is now referred to as maskne. Here, we chat to Dublin based skincare expert, Ciara Darcy on the single best thing you can do to not only treat but prevent mask induced flare-ups. 

The same way drinking water is attributed to fixing all of life's problems, cleansing the skin has long been herald by dermatologists for combating the best thing you can do for you skin. Oily skin? Cleanse. Eczema or rosacea? Cleanse. Maskne? Cleanse. 

Even though it’s just one part of our extensive beauty routines, cleansing the skin is arguably the most important step. But despite knowing how crucial it is to remove our makeup each and every night before bed, there are some days we’re lucky if we even wash our face at all. 

Somewhere along the lines of stocking our #shelfie with serums promising eternal youth, moisturisers bursting with hyaluronic acid and eye creams that promise to banish dark circles, we seem to have demoted cleansing to the back of the shelf, often opting for a quick once-over with a face wipe or a splash of micellar water. But according to Dublin-based skincare specialist Ciara Darcy, all your magical skincare products are useless if you’re not cleansing correctly. “When done correctly, cleansing can transform your skin. Daily cleansing is needed to remove all traces of pollutants and excess oils while also encouraging cell renewal. It also boosts circulation and lymphatic drainage feeding your skin with oxygen and nutrients that it needs to stay healthy.” And sorry, soap and water will no longer cut it. “Water alone will not remove excess oils,” says Darcy. “In fact, over time this can lead to breakouts, blackheads, milia and inflammation.” 

Consistency in cleansing is key to not only preventing breakouts but also treating them.

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Between worrying about loved ones, news-related anxiety and face mask induced acne - breakouts are at an all-time high. "Maskne' is a form of acne around the lower half of the face caused by wearing masks," says Darcy. "Friction against the skin along with a humid environment creates an ideal location for bacteria to thrive. Causing spots; blackheads, whiteheads and pustules." 

The best way to treat and prevent maskne from striking? You guessed it – cleansing. "Cleanse with a gentle cream cleanser then use a salicylic acid face wash," recommends Darcy. "Concentrate the salicylic acid on the area that needs it, leave it on the skin for 20-30 seconds before rinsing. Follow with a hyaluronic acid serum. Choose oil-free serums and moisturisers. Micellar water will dehydrate your skin further and overtime cause redness, sensitivity and irritation."

So to help you defeat maskne once and for all, we've rounded up the best cleansers for combating acne. 

If you're in a rush to get rid of your spots, this is the cleanser for you. Sally Cleanse is an exfoliating cleanser, Spot-Zapper + Micro-Mask that contains 2% salicylic acid, the highest amount legally permitted to be used in skincare in the EU. Unlike most salicylic face washes which contain other ingredients to counteract its potency, Sally Cleanse is the purest form of a salicylic acid cleanser you can find. That said, it does just take from the skin, which is why your pre-cleanse is so vital when using this particular cleanser.  

Skingredients Sally Cleanse, €25, SHOP

This acne face wash is not only budget-friendly, but it also works hard to get rid of blemishes and keep skin calm and clear. The formula is non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog up pores, and it's non-drying and non-irritating—perfect for anyone with sensitive skin. It’s also developed with dermatologists and uses good-for-skin ingredients like salicylic acid, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and antioxidant vitamin D.

Cerave SA Smoothing Cleanser with Salicylic Acid, €12.50, SHOP

From the brand that created the ultimate acne spot treatment (if you know, you know) comes this equally-great acne face wash. It's a clarifying formula with salicylic acid, aloe vera, and thyme extract to help remove pore-clogging dead skin cells while preventing the skin from drying out.

Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser, €15.75, SHOP

When it comes to acne, you hear a lot about the wonders of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Nothing against them (they're acne-fighting great ingredients for certain) but let's also give some due praise to sulfur, which makes a big 3% cameo in this cleanser. When used over time, you can expect to see visibly clearer skin and minimized pores.

Kate Somerville EradiKate Daily Cleanser Acne Treatment, €37, SHOP

On top of willow bark extract—the natural form of salicylic acid—this cleanser also uses geranium to help balance out sebum (what you refer to as oil) production which is what can clog pores and typically leads to breakouts. The gel formula also uses rosemary extract for some added firming benefits.

Boscia Clear Complexion Cleanser, €24, SHOP

If you have sensitive skin, REN is one of the most trustworthy brands out there — and their Gentle Cleansing Gel was specifically designed for skin prone to irritation and/or redness. This gentle cleanser will help balance and soothe oily, acne-prone skin without stripping it, all while effectively wiping away every last trace of makeup. Enriched with prebiotics to support a strong barrier, beta-glucan to soothe itchiness and irritation, and lactic acid for mild exfoliation. What's more, this natural cleanser is even housed in recyclable packaging.

Ren Clean Skincare Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Gel, €23, SHOP

Of all the cleansers on this list, the Alumier Acne Clarifying Face Wash is the one Darcy recommends the most. So much so, she even uses it herself. "This cleanser is needed to keep my pores clear. My skin gets spotty when I don't use it, especially around my chin and my forehead," remarks Darcy. 

To access medical grade skincare range AlumierMD ( you can get advice about your skin type and purchase products through Ciara's code 4A149499 or visit her clinic on 30 Upper Pembroke Street, Dublin 2

Main image by @brittanyxavier on Instagram

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