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'Maskne' solutions & quarantine beautifiers

By THERESE JAMORA-GARCEAU, The Philippine STAR Published Aug 26, 2020 8:12 am

One of the biggest skin problems wrought by this pandemic is “maskne,” acne caused by all the sweat, oil and dirt trapped on our faces by our masks. A recent study conducted by L’Oreal found that oily facial skin is one of the top changes experienced by Filipinas during this endless quarantine, attributed to changes in our lifestyle, diet and weather, combined with other factors affecting skin health.

Here we choose the best “maskne” and oily-skin fighters, as well as other products that will give you an outdoorsy glow even if you’re sheltering indoors.

Laura Mercier: Skincare essentials for healthy skin

Queen of the Flawless Face Laura Mercier developed her Skincare Essentials collection to address the skin abuse models and makeup wearers put their skin through. “After years of witnessing the lack of care models’ skin endures on set, I wanted to create a skincare collection that would nourish and bring the skin back to health,” said the iconic French makeup artist.

All 10 products in her collection contain Skincare Essentials complex, three ingredients curated by Mercier herself to render skin an ideal canvas for makeup: French spring seawater from Brittany, France; rose water, a blend of French rose flower extract and Damask rose flower oil to calm and balance skin; and the hero ingredient, Starflower oil, Mercier’s secret weapon for healthy-looking skin.

In Mercier’s method, the first step to great skin is cleansing. Refining Crème Polish is good for “maskne,” as it exfoliates dead skin and calms redness and flare-ups.

Next, fans of double cleansing can start with the Conditioning Cleansing Oil, a luxe blend of seven different plant oils (moringa, safflower, macadamia, kukui, Starflower, olive squalane and rose) that removes all traces of makeup.

Not a fan of cleansing oils? Opt for either the Purifying Micellar Water or Soothing Eye Makeup Remover. Mercier’s Micellar is different in that it has anti-aging noni leaf extract and soothing water-lily extract, while the Soothing Eye Makeup Remover — a bi-phase mixture of oil and water — can also be used on the lips.

Next, the Balancing Foaming Cleanser lathers away any remaining oil and makeup without leaving skin dry or taut.

Mercier merged her day and night creams into one super product: The Perfect Cream Multi-tasking Moisturizer, which has anti-aging kombucha and a marine complex to keep skin moisturized. I love its light, gel-like consistency, which melts into the skin and leaves it dewy, plump, and as smooth as a primed canvas. “It’s perfect for the glass-skin look,” said brand manager Francesca Sy.

Those with oily skin should go for the Mattifying Oil-Free Moisturizer, a water-based fluid with honey and coconut water to reduce oil and give skin a demi-matte finish.

Mercier’s Illuminating Eye Cream is an anti-aging serum and brightening cream in one, with flamenco violet pearl to color correct under-eye darkness, while peptides and caffeine smooth wrinkles and tighten skin.

Mercier’s Nourishing Rose Oil is a cult favorite that’s been improved by adding anti-inflammatory macadamia and Kukui seed oils to reduce redness and flakiness. I like adding a drop to my moisturizer for extra glow, and you can also use it to tame flyaway hair and nourish cuticles.

The Hydrating Lip Balm now comes in a tube and is pretty in pink. French plum oil and olive-derived squalane instantly soothe chapping, and you can also use it around the lips to smooth fine lines and prevent lipstick bleeding.

(Laura Mercier’s Skincare Essentials are available at and Rustans The Beauty Source.)

Kiehl’s: Calming skin with calendula

Kiehl’s best treatment for “maskne,” according to retail and education manager Yricka Dela Peña, is the NYC brand’s Calendula Collection: “It’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory — good for breakouts,” she says.

Back in the 1960s Kiehl’s introduced its Calendula Herbal Extract Toner, an alcohol-free skin soother that became the brand’s top-selling toner worldwide, with one bottle sold every eight seconds.

Next came Calendula Deep Foaming Face Wash, formulated with glycerin to deep clean while protecting the skin’s natural barrier.

The Calendula & Aloe Soothing Hydration Masque concentrated the benefits of calendula even more, moisturizing skin while reducing signs of distress and improving the complexion.

My personal favorite is Kiehl’s Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream. Inspired by the toner, it’s weightless, not oily, and mattifies skin. Made from calendula extracts and hundreds of micronized petals, it boosts radiance, evens skin tone and hydrates for 24 hours.

According to a four-week home-use study, 98 percent of Calendula users agreed that their skin felt more balanced, 91 percent agreed their skin felt relieved from discomfort, while 33 percent agreed that blemishes minimized after just one week.

(The Calendula Collection is available at Kiehl’s 15 stores in Manila and one in Cebu. Online shop for it at

NARS: Get glowing with the ‘To Dew’ list

For those WFH but still wanting to fake a beach glow, the three products on Nars’ “To Dew” list are all best in class.

The limited-edition Tinted Glow Booster can be worn three ways: alone it gives you soft-focus illumination; under or mixed with foundation it provides an overall glow. I like to wear it over foundation for the most impact, putting it on the high points of my face.

To match their your-lips-but-better, dusty-rose lipstick Dolce Vita, Nars now has Dolce Vita liquid blush — so pigmented just one pump will give you an intensely pretty flush.

Lastly, Nars’ award-winning bronzing powder has spawned new matte version, which imparts a very believable fake tan and also works great as contour. Use a large fluffy brush to “toast” the sides of your face and bronze your body, or a more precise brush to snatch and chisel all the round parts of your face.

(Nars is available at Rustan’s the Beauty Source and

SnailWhite: Going for gold

Thai skincare brand SnailWhite has boosted two of its most popular products with more powerful ingredients and a dose of real gold.

The new Whipp Soap Gold and Gold Cream both contain Snail Potion Advanced: a potent snail-secretion filtrate that’s been enhanced with red algae to nourish skin, seal in moisture, and promote skin elasticity.
But the come-on ingredient is 24K gold to spark up the complexion, helping stimulate cell turnover and blood circulation for smoother and more resilient skin, while Niacinamide diminishes the appearance of age spots and hyperpigmentation.

From past experience I can say that SnailWhite is a high-quality brand that’s a pleasure to use. Their CC SPF50 cream is one of my favorite sunscreens, and so is their Body Booster SPF 30.

The Gold line provides a truly luxurious experience, with the Whipp Soap’s fragrant, creamy lather, and I actually prefer the Gold cream’s richer texture, which leaves my face with a subtle golden glow.

(SnailWhite Gold is available at official SnailWhite shops online at Lazada, Shopee, Zalora and BeautyMNL. It’s also available at leading Watsons and The SM Store outlets nationwide.)

Shiseido: Foundation that refreshes itself

Shiseido’s Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing line is a high-tech work of art. I love that it’s fragrance-free, dermatologist-tested and doesn’t cause “maskne.” 

The Synchro Skin Tone Up primer compact with SPF 24 PA++is cooling and immediately improves the look of the complexion. The Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing concealer is so light and creamy it melts into the skin.

The star of the show, however, is Shiseido’s Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing foundation SPF 35 PA++++, a lightweight, oil-free foundation that’s medium coverage but easily buildable to full coverage. ActiveForce technology synchronizes with skin and resists, heat, sweat, oil, humidity, pollution, and facial movement. It self-refreshes so your makeup looks good even after 24 hours and comes in 30 shades, from Alabaster to Obsidian.

Personally I favor the portable Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing cushion compact, which is even more weightless and covers all my imperfections with one thin layer.

For oilier skin there’s Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing Custom Finish powder foundation SPF 35 PA++++, which is also ideal for touchups.

(Shiseido is available at and Shiseido stores nationwide.)

L’Oreal: Committing to green beauty

Following the lead of its mother company, L’Oreal Philippines has fully committed to sustainability. The brand, which does a lot of ecommerce, has realized the environmental impact of the packaging required for home deliveries, so it’s partnered with Green Parcel, which uses sustainable and biodegradable materials for its packaging.

L’Oreal will also launch a new product labeling system that informs consumers about the environmental and social impact of their purchases.

More importantly, they’re expanding their Beauty for a Better Life program, in which they train men and women from disadvantaged communities on how to be hairdressers so they can generate income for themselves or be employed at a salon. Thus far they have over 300 graduates across the Philippines.

Beauty-wise, I’m a fan of L’Oreal’s green beauty line Garnier, and Infallible, which has great concealers and a Pro-Matte foundation that gives you an airbrushed finish literally the whole day. 

(Garnier is available at and L’Oreal Infallible is available online at Lazada.)

Naïve: The Dalgona of facial washes

If Dalgona coffee were a face wash, it would be Naïve from Kracie Japan.  Just add a little water to this foaming face wash, “whisk” in your hands (I pumped it in a French press just like coffee), and you get a luscious, whipped, creamy lather that removes dirt and oil from deep in your pores.

Naïve has three “flavors”: Peach Leaf for normal skin, Green Tea for oily skin and Yuzu Ceramide for dry skin.  Exclusively distributed by Beauty Box Corp., it’s free of artificial colorings, mineral oil, paraben and alcohol.

(Naïve is available at Beauty Bar, Rustan’s, SM Beauty, Watsons, Landmark, Chimes, and online at,  BeautyMNL, Zalora, Lazada and Shopee.)

K-Palette: For full, feathered brows

In line with the natural beauty trend engendered by staying at home, brow plucking is out, and full, feathery brows are in.

Japanese brand K-Palette has met the trend with two multi-tasking brow products in its iconic 1 Day Tattoo line. Lasting Eyebrow Mascara is for those with full brows who just need to fill in some sparse areas and groom hairs into place, with a new cone-shaped brush that evenly coats hairs with a soft, featherlike formula.

If your brows need a little more work, like mine, everything you need is in K-Palette’s genius Lasting 3Way Eyebrow Pencil: a retractable tip to draw hair-like strokes, brow powder to fill in holes, and a spoolie to brush everything into place.

The only thing better is combining the two for ultimate brow perfection.

(K-Palette is distributed by Beauty Box Corp. and available at Beauty Bar, Rustan’s, SM Beauty, Watsons, Landmark, Chimes, and online at,  BeautyMNL, Zalora, Lazada and Shopee.)

(Follow the author on Instagram and Facebook @thebeautytraveler_ph.)