Maskne. Are you serious?

Think about my sheer terror when I first heard the word maskne. 20+ years (no, I won’t disclose how many over 20. Rude!) suffering from acne and now you’re telling me the sensible way to help protect myself and other in the middle of a pandemic is actually causing, lo and behold: ACNE. 

Jokes, right? No, it is true. The coined term #maskne the beauty industry has been throwing right left and centre refers to acne related by the use of face masks.

I mean, everyone and their dog is talking about maskne. Even the BBC talked about it and given my 20+ years experience in acne (and 10 at the BBC, ok?), I thought I’d share my afflictions and my (trial) solutions. Ok, mainly my afflictions. 

Apparently our lovely mask also “suffocates” our skin a bit – think a little greenhouse of oil and sweat, plus the areas of contact which also contribute to contact acne, on top of the gross sebum ones. You’re welcome.

All avenues had been exhausted as the obvious (for me) is already part of my routine (and then some): wash face regularly with a gentle cleanser, use a clean mask every time, stop touching your face (good advice for COVID-19 and breakouts).

Side note: I actually wear reusable face coverings with a cotton layer inside (that sometimes I sew an extra in for added protection). I wash at 40 degrees with detergent at every wear. I don’t have to reuse a mask even if it was worn for a 10 minutes run to the shops and having a selection means I am never caught short, and I always carry extra ones and filters.

Masks in all the colours and shine of the rainbow (is that a thing?)

My usual routine (morning wash, toner, SPF, vitamin C booster, moisturiser + eye cream, eve: wash, toner, moisturise, serum/oil, eye cream) plus my medication, Spironolactone, that helps keep skin in check didn’t seem to be doing their trick so I went on the search of an efficient and pocket friendly option to help me tackle it. 

When I noticed little spots and serious congestion around my chin and jawline, as well as around my nose, I had enough. How dare you, acne. 

I changed my night toner to a blemish prone skin specific, reduced the use of more aggressive retinols and glycolic acids and added a (not so) secret weapon: salicylic acid. 

I got this one from Superdrug and it is extremely affordable. The Me+ Salicylic Acid + Cica booster cost me £6.99 and I have to say, is working well so far. 

I’ve been using twice a day and also on the chin and around the nose area under light make up when I go out and know I will be wearing my mask for a longer period of time. 

Salicylic acid was probably the very first ingredient I tried when I started to have acne in my teenage years. Due to the severity at that time, it did very little to keep it at bay, but being reunited with this old friend was a surprise with pleasant results. 

However, it’s main property is to get into the pores and breaks down dead skin cells and oils, help prevent them to clog. This also contains centella asiatica, which is calming and soothing, so for me it has been working a treat!

Benzoyl peroxide is also highly recommended and available over the counter – I’ve been using that for years and it is a great way to prevent, less to rid of, blemishes. A thin layer daily on the affected area is also known to help.

Spots come and go, it’s been like that all my life. Am I ok with them? NO. However, for the safety of those around me, I’ll just grin, and bear it – behind my mask of course.

Have you noticed maskne? How are you tackling it?

written by Dani

For the sake of skin condition disclaimer, I didn’t edit the pics and had minimal makeup on: light under eye concealer, mascara and sheer lipstick. On the rest of my face, only moisturiser, SPF, vitamin C serum and salicylic acid on the chin+jawline area. Face pics taken with iPhone.

My skincare routine for problematic skin – Part 1

Balancing ageing prevention and acne fighting skincare

Once again I go on about my problematic skin. Get used to it. Working with Eucerin has given me a boost of confidence to keep talking openly about skin concerns affecting young and older people alike.

Think double trouble – when you are a little bit older (cough cough) and still suffer from breakouts, ageing is a concern but most acne effective treatments will drain your skin from hydration, promoting a dry, irritated and dull complexion. Which is wrinkle prone. Great.

Frankly, I don’t have time for that, on top of all the aggro acne has brought me, I now have a new set of issues to deal with, and they are the entire opposite end of the spectrum.

With make up not sitting well and not lasting, if your confidence is already knocked by the problematic skin itself, not being able to conceal it a little bit can be even worse.

So what to do Dani? Well, I have, through all these years, tried many combinations. I’m not going to lie: it is trial and error, and sometimes it just stops working, but hopefully my tips will be useful.

In short, I keep acne specific products for the night, adding a shot of deeper hydration, and favour shielding, protecting and moisturising products for the day. And I rotate a lot, depending on how my skin is feeling.

Because this post ended up huge (trust me not to shut up), I am splitting in two parts. Here, I talk about the beginning of the routine – cleansers, toners, serums and day moisturisers.


I double cleanse most days. First either with an oil pre-cleanse – my go-to are dermalogica precleanse cleansing oil or DHC Deep Cleansing Oil or a balm – my faves are this works light time cleanse & glow or Botanicals Hydration Boost Double Action Hydrating Cleanser.

Then I use a wash – always a foaming wash. If skin is a bit more sensitive, I use a mild one like the Evolve Daily Facial Detox Wash or Best Face Forward from Formula 10.0.6.

All of the above are very gentle, offering non-stripping deep cleansing.

If skin if feeling slightly tougher and can take more acid goodness, I love the Nip+Fab Glycolic Fix Cleansing foam or the Eucerin Dermopurifyer cleansing gel which are still gentle enough for my (most of the times) sensitive skin.


For the day, the Zenii Antioxidant Q10 Toner, Murad’s Essential-C Toner and dermalogica’s Multiactive Toner are ever so mild and efficient. At night, I use the Eucerin Dermopurifyer Toner.

If I am looking for something with a bit more bite, Pixi Glow Tonic and Clinique Anti-Blemish Solution Clarifying Toner are my go to (which incidentally need re-stocking!).


Usually during the day I apply the gorgeous Zenii Antioxidant Power serum and the lovely Lumène Valo Glow Boost Essence both for protection and promoting radiance. I use those mainly for day.

The Rainforest Rescue Blemish Serum, from Evolve organic Beauty, and The Ordinary Niaciamide 10% + Zinc 1% solution are helpful additions when blemishes are present, and usually at night.

Day moisturisers

I am a bit promiscuous when it comes to moisturising. At the moment, I have, on rotation, for the day: this works light time skin plumper, Zenii Moisturising Sun protection, Nivea Q10plus C, Neutrogena Moisture Boost and Perricone MD Photo Plasma (which makes a great makeup base).

If the SPF on the moisturiser is not enough, I complement the routine with one of my favourite sun creams, such as Eucerin’s Sun Fluid Anti-Age.

Very important: this mini series talks about a maintenance routine. If you are suffering from (especially) moderate to severe active acne, I urge you to talk to your doctor to discuss treatment.

Once you start treatment, you will most likely stick to a prescribed skincare routine, but depending on what your main medical treatment for acne is, some products will be off the table.

In a few days, I will be talking excitingly about night hydration, oils, masks, scrubs and other skincare bits that are also part of my routine – do not miss!

P.S. Since I photographed this post, new skincare came into play, like the new Nivea City Skin range, which has gone straight into my skincare drawer… But you know what they say (do they?): the work of a beauty blogger is never done – they will soon be featuring.

written by Dani

You know the drill, but I’ll say again: this post contains PR samples. This review, however, is based on my experience with the product and reflects my honest opinion on them.

Anti-blemish care from Vichy: Normaderm Beautifying day cream

vichy-normaderm-beautifying-blemish-care-review - 1That my skin is problematic is no news. I am always on the lookout for products that will give my skin what it needs – hydration, radiance, exfoliation, whatever – without aggravating it or breaking the delicate balance between an ok skin day and weeks of awfulness.

When I heard about the Vichy Normaderm range, I had high hopes, especially as it brings in some products that are not that common for blemished skin.

I tried the Beautifying anti-blemish care 24h hydration day cream and was impressed.

Although prone to breakouts, my skin is quite dry, so anything that delivers some extra hydration in on my good books.

The colour is very light green, the consistency medium and the smell is quite prominent – a classic fresh that does not overpower.

It does sink in very well and make loves being on top of it. I did notice texture and plumpiness remained for longer, a sign of good moisture.

vichy-normaderm-beautifying-blemish-care-review - 2While I can see immediate results – more even skin tone, less shine – the effects are meant to get better over time. I have to say that my monthly breakouts did not make an appearance, so thumbs up!

It contains salicylic acid, which is a traditional ingredient to combat breakouts for its anti-inflammatory and exfoliating properties; caprylol glycerine, which reduces growth of bacteria and sebum; airlicium, which disperses sebum and has a soft focus effect and pheresourcinol, which is a great exfoliator and anti-bacterial that helps with pigmentation.

For me, a great day moisturiser. A huge shame it hasn’t got SPF.

The Vichy Normaderm range is quite extensive and counts with great products I am dying to try such as Night Detox, Hyaluspot and Anti-ageing, apart from this fab all rounder.

The Vichy Normaderm Beautifying anti-blemish care 24h hydration day cream costs £14.50 and can be fond in retailers nationwide.


This post contains PR samples. This review, however, is based on my experience with the product and reflects my honest opinion on them.

Fighting adult acne and ageing signs with SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense solution

skinceauticals_belmish_antiage_defense_review - 1Wow, 2016 sees really to be about skincare! Acne, as most of you know, has been the bane of my life for a very longtime. So long that at this point my main concern should be ageing signs and not spots.
Caught between preventing ageing signs and fighting blemishes, there is very little on the market that will cover both aspects of my skincare needs, furthermore, one usually aggravates the other, as anti-acne products are extremely drying and aggressive, and anti-ageing products are usually quite rich.
Imagine my happiness when I came across the SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense Potent Treatment solution at Dermacare Direct. Sounded perfect!
This product is a clear solution, very slightly viscous, which is oil-free and contains salicylic (1.5%) and salicylic capryloyl (0.3%), dioic (2%), glycolic (3.5%) and citric (0.5%) acids. It’s the first to market to have dioic plus alpha and beta hydroxy acids in its formulation, to fight blemishes and fine lines and uneven skin tone and texture.
It applies and absorbs very well. The feeling is slightly tingly when you apply, but only for a few seconds.
There was no redness, no irritation and better still, no dryness, of any sort. Prolonged use did cause my lips to chap more than usual this winter, as I apply on the chin, where my blemishes are, twice a day, but that is expected with any acid products.
I’ve been using at night on the whole face and day on the problem areas only (mainly chin) and noticed an improvement, not only in blemishes but skin in general, mainly tone and radiance.
Using now over a few weeks, I can now notice an overall improvement. I feel it does target all the promised areas.
skinceauticals_belmish_antiage_defense_review - 2I’ve been using this product in conjunction with the SkinCeauticals B5 solution for extra moisturisation, as my skin suffers at this time of the year, plus other serums and moisturisers in my skincare routine.
Overall impressed. I had never tried SkinCeauticals before, but heard great things. This certainly lived up to the reputation of the brand and more.
I am already panicking when it gets to the end, but I have to say it is worth the price tag.
Dermacare Direct is an online cosmeceuticals company that stocks the best brands on the market. They also have the lovely Andrea, a cosmetic nurse, who is qualified to give the best, honest advice when picking your skincare to best suit your needs. Plus, she is super lovely!
You can get the SkinCeauticals Blemish + Age Defense for £64 for 30ml from Dermacare Direct.
They so stock other SkinCeauticals lines and various other cosmeceautical brands at great prices!
This post contains PR samples. This review, however, is based on my experience with the product and reflects my honest opinion on them.

Fighting acne

woman with hands on face - credit:

image credit:

First, apologies for the long post. This is not an easy post for me. I don’t use my blog to vent, or to moan. I have hung on to this unpublished post for almost three months now and although the situation has improved since I wrote it, I am far from happy. My blog is beauty related, and there you go, I don’t really feel beautiful sometimes because of this. I don’t think I ever spoke this openly and in-depth about this issue that has accompanied me for about 18 years now. To me, it is always visible,  its scars are ever so present, as a painful reminder of everything I had to work through all these years.

I started suffering from acne at around 15. There were just pimples in the beginning but soon they became huge painful boils under my skin, which was always red and swollen. My face was always the only place where they would appear.

When I was 17, I had my first treatment with Roaccutane, a powerful retinoid from the vitamin A family. I took it for six months and the side effects were horrendous: body aches, soft tissue extreme dryness, cracked and bleeding lips. It was awful, but I came off the other side with great skin, and thought I had won.

However, six years on, when I moved to London my skin reached a state it had never been before; the boils were back, bigger, deeper and more painful than ever. So much so that the GP suggested I saw a dermatologist. And they told me what I really dreaded: Roaccutane was the only way out. Terrified of the side effects, I said I didn’t want to go through all that again. Once is enough and I would rather live with the acne. I was lying. nothing is as bad as living with it. So I entered another course, this time during a whole year on a lower dosage, so cut down the side effects. Once again, the medication worked its magic and I had a spot-free face.

But the two violent bouts of acne cost me dearly, I was left with the scars to remember, everyday, all the pain it had inflicted on me during the best years of my life. I am not saying I lost my confidence; although there were lows, I have always been an outspoken, extrovert, confident woman who never let the acne define me. It could’ve been much worse in that respect – but I remain sensitive about it.

One good thing it gave me is my love of make up, which stems from the need to hide myself for years. I had a long fringe that would conveniently cover my cheeks most of the time. I think most of my acne trauma is in fact, due to the incessant treatments, and the physical pain of the boils. As only the scars were left, I decided it was time to face the world, however ugly I believe they are. And I did. I left all those feelings in the past and embraced a pull back do.

But recently my skin hasn’t been happy and the breakouts are re-occurring. Not the monthly ones, which I learnt to ignore. They are cystic again, they are growing on top of each other, a classic sign of when things are going bad…. you wouldn’t probably be able to see them, but I know they are there. Hurting.

So I went to the doctor and I was told I could get a referral to a dermatologist, who would probably put me on Roaccutane, I broke down in tears. I cannot do that to myself again. So I went on antibiotics for a while – and improvement is pathetic for me to be pumping myself up with drugs everyday. I hate my scars. I always hated them so much, but now it’s serious. I had enough.

The final low was this bright red, sore spot bang on my cheek.Why won’t it just leave me alone? I should be worrying about wrinkles at this age… not freaking acne!

This time it is really affecting me. I want it to go away, I want the scars to go away and I never want to remember this was part of me for all this time. It is more than half my life. And I got myself thinking about taking Roaccutane again… and that makes me really sad. It looks like acne cornered me again…

I tried everything. Products do help, recently Skinetica and the Elemis range have been helping to control it without being too aggressive (yeah, I am also tired of slapping things on that make me red, flaky, horrible). However, it is always there and suddenly, I have an awful bout and it gets much worse. Medical advice that is not Roaccutane seem to be useless.

This is haunting me and I thought it was finally time to put it out there. I cannot keep this to myself anymore. Lots of stuff now cross my mind. Could Roaccutane be the way, again? Being such a strong medication, is it safe for me to have it for the third time? If I decide to get pregnant in the next couple of years (I am no spring chicken, I really need to decide soon if I am to), could it affect my baby? I know the textbook answer to those questions, as I read extensively on the drug. But the questions will always be in the back of my head. “Am I giving myself a bigger risk of liver disease?” “Am I jeopardising my fertility?” . Also, is there something I have not found yet that can help me?

I have decided I will not take it again. There *must* be another way.  But the biggest question of all still remains: “Will I ever be free from it?”.


ps. I’d like to thank Grace from All that Slap, who has talked openly on her blog about a highly sensitive issue she faces – it inspired me to talk seconda and she encouraged me to do the same. Thank you for the support! x