mask-ne part 3 : 9 tips to alleviate mask zits


ok so now that the opinionated fashion show is over (mask-ne post #2), here’s the practical lifestyle stuff you’re dying to know!

if you are privileged to be able to, stay home or inside a space where you can safely be mask-less to avoid friction from the mask AND constant sweatiness onto your skin. the main goal here is to avoid friction, pressure, and constant sweatyness.

this makes me think of the many but one client in particular, RK, who had stubborn and inflamed pimples right where her eyeglasses sat on her cheeks and nose. having her switch to contacts (or another frame that didn’t sit directly on her zits) until those pimples healed did the trick, and allowed those stubborn zits to heal. once her skin was clear, she was able to wear those glasses again, with no problems.

however, not ever wearing masks is unrealistic for most, so as soon as you get home, or into your car with no one with you (or members of your household/pod), remove your mask and let your skin breathe (which you’re probably doing already anyway).

but you will have to wear them at some point, so if you can..









choose masks that don’t collapse onto your lips. those flat rectangle ones with folds are super easy to make and find, but i found fabric constantly sat on my lips, getting soggy and wet from the humidity generated i talked and breathed, making things a sweaty mess – even more so if the fabric is thick, has multiple, unbreathable layers or you’re in a hot and/or humid climate.

my favorite ones are pictured above: cone-shaped k-95’s, and the gata mask.

if you’re sweating under that mask, wipe the sweat off your face with a clean cloth from time to time. i keep a small clean hand towel in my bag just for this purpose. look for really thin, absorbent and quick-drying ones, so you can easily have one with you on the go.

and if you don’t already have them, give these washable makeup removing sponges i love a try. just make sure to give them a good wash before using, and instead of throwing them in the dryer after laundering, hang to dry to keep them soft.

because you technically should be using them once and then washing (if reuseable) or tossing them anyway (i do reuse my disposable ones a few times before tossing though 😬😬😬). main point: if you have different styles of masks, try wearing a different kind each day.

because different masks will lay on your skin in slightly different places in slightly different ways, alternating the different mask shapes allow your skin a little break from the physical pressure of wearing them, on the same exact place, day in and out.

if you are using fabric masks and the towel trick as suggested above, make sure you are washing these things with acne-safe stuff. here’s the big blog post about why this is a thing, and brands/types that look acne-safe to use.

i have a client with really REALLY sensitive skin, who’s a nurse and breaks out every time she has to wear a mask to work at the hospital (we troubleshot this long before covid). things that helped her skin the best, which helped her skin break out the least include:

– taking anti-inflammatory supplements (like zyflamend, optizinc or nordic naturals omega-3 supplements) before and after her shifts
– avoiding inflammatory foods by eating low-glycemic (especially coffee, because this inflames you AND boosts your cortisol levels, a type of hormone, which for the acne-prone, usually shows up as breakouts around the mouth; the same goes for soy).
– a regular schedule of enough quality sleep
– consistent stress management (whatever this means to you, as long as they’re constant + healthy ways, ok?!)
– and of course, icing your face!

a.k.a. all the same things we’ve been telling you to clear your skin!!

i’ve been wearing masks all this time, walking around in hot and sweaty ass japan and have had zero breakouts. then, i got a facial at a spa that used cloggy products (i knew this going in but i needed to explore japanese technique while i had access in a safe environment) and lo and behold, the next morning i got a pimple right where the mask sits on my nose.

SO: acne-safe and active acne clearing products to prevent future and treat existing acne. usually this will mean a chemical exfoliant of some kind (like one of our mandelic toners or one of our glycolic or salicylic serums), but for some, benzoyl peroxide in addition to an exfoliant might be necessary too.

*bonus tip: remember to keep your lip stuff and toothpaste acne-safe too. this stuff spreads all over the lower half of your face and can break you out, even if you’re not making out with anyone. just saying.

*super bonus tip: thanks to sS’er MLW: when she’s not too lazy, she’ll apply a layer of the youngblood mineral makeup primer (or tizo spf; they’re both silicone-based + acne-safe so should work) before putting a mask on, as a barrier between her skin and the mask. we also suspected that it wasn’t just the friction of the hospital masks that were causing problems for her, but that there might have been some kind of chemical or substance sprayed onto them, leaving a residue on her skin. they smelled “medical-y,” if you know what we mean.

obviously, only if you’re able to do so safely, HOWEVER because you’ll still likely need to keep wearing masks, the acne will come back. remember, all of these tips are ideas to manage the mask-ne, not control or completely get rid of them (close to impossible for acne-prone skin until your pores have outgrown their acne phase).

the truth of it is, perfection is just unattainable. sorry. more importantly, it’s way better to get zits than to spread or get covid. both suck of course, but if you had to choose, i hope you agree that zits are the better choice. you can use all the greatest products and get all the extractions but the reality is, if you have to keep wearing masks (as you should), you’re likely gonna keep breaking out.

so, making peace with the fact that you are keeping your community safe AND feeling empowered because you know exactly why you’re breaking out (remember when it was all a mystery before you starting working with us? you also now know what needs to happen for it to clear up) i think is the best and most realistic bet. you know, changing the things you can change and accepting the things you can’t. 😉


because you don’t really have to wear lipstick or makeup, you’re giving your skin a chance to rest from makeup, and saving money by not using up your stash.

PLUS, as an enthusiastically loyal, look-on-the-bright-side sS’er KS mentioned, wearing a mask is a form of physical block from the sun, which can help to slow down aging and wrinkling of the skin!

hope these tips make sense, help you out, give you some new things to try and more positive perspective. it’s a lot of info (as how i usually do). let me know what you think, if you have more ideas or different experiences than what i shared here. i want to know, and others may be able to benefit too.

thanks for reading and peace!
love, kim

mask-ne part 2: masks i’ve tried and my faves

ok so maskne is still a thing and since my last really long post about it, i’ve done some research and have some new thoughts. and here they are for you to peruse! these are my opinions and observations as a hyper-sensitive and aware person of details, and as a professional skin therapist focused on acne.

different masks i’ve tried

i was on a mission to try as many different kinds of masks as i could. enjoy the following fashion show, with my notes on the different masks i was able to get sent to me from the states, or find locally in japan.

neoprene masks DO NOT protect from covid!

$2-10, pretty much everywhere

in japan, i saw either the disposable surgical masks (below), or these thin and flimsy neoprene ones that basically don’t do anything, because droplets flow freely in and out of them. in japan these are known as “fashion” masks, worn more as a show of respect than any other functional reason. these were the masks i DID NOT bother testing for this experiment and i don’t recommend using them for covid prevention purposes!

they are very comfortable and washable though. if you are short on disposable masks, you can put this on top; wash this neoprene mask, and reuse the disposable + more protective mask a few times (especially helpful if supplies are short).

about $1 each, sold here in japan $50/box of 50. american capitalism prices will vary, if you can find them.

the most rampantly available and cost-effective for disposables. for me, this style was much more comfortable than the fabric mask of the same flat rectangular shape (down below), because the fabric was much thinner and more breathable. the meltblown filter fabric composition of the mask also offers more reliable safety than cloth ones.

however, this wasn’t my fave for a few reasons:

  1. they were still super scarce at the time.
  2. they are disposable, and i didn’t want to add more waste for the planet to deal with. i really wanted something reusable.
  3. the folds still lay on my lips, (definitely not as much as the fabric ones, but still) making for messy + uncomfortable sweaty breathing / humid mask cave. 

**if you are using these, please clip the earloops before tossing; they can tangle up in the legs of wildlife, among other places.

photo backstory: this was my overgrown-80’s miami-vice-jackie-chan hair after sheltering in place for 4.5 months, waiting in line to get a buzz at the 10 minute, $10 barbershop at the takadanobaba train station’s QB house. it’s a chain that salarymen go to for cheap and quick cuts. i had been denied service at another pricier barbershop, so i was stoked QBH was willing and able to see me. this was the day i learned that a 3 in the usa means buzzer guard #3, where in japan it means 3 millimeters.

this airinium mask has valves that let potentially infected droplets leak out, so no for covid but yes for smoke protection.

$69 in 2019, now $75. comes with 2 replacement filters, a back-of-the-head-strap and a carrying pouch. 

this was the fanciest one on the market most widely available before covid, that i got for smog and smoke protection. it does a great job of filtering both of those out (can’t hardly smell carcinogens or other stinky things like petrol exhaust with it on) BUT in terms of covid, the valves are a no-no. droplets can escape through the circle-shaped vents as the wearer exhales, potentially exposing those around you – so i’ve stopped wearing this one for now.

*for the west coast fire situation combined with covid, you might consider wearing this for smoke AND a surgical one on top to cover the valves for covid, or tape the valves shut with masking tape.

photo backstory: this was me at the sri lankan airport, trying to get to japan as covid was getting super serious. it was a very stressful + frustrating experience leaving, so this was my exasperated, sitting in the customs departure office “i’m ready to leave get me outta here asap arghhhhhh” look.

so cute! but the fabric was too thick (sweaty + hot) and laid on my lips, making for a soggy mess underneath. maybe ok for wintertime?

about $10-$15 for the mask, and $20-45 for the headwrap.

for the first 2-3 months while in japan, surgical masks were impossible to find, but cloth masks were plentiful online. i also hadn’t been able to get my head shaved so my hair needed to be covered up because it looked crazy.

so, i bought a super cute matching headwrap and mask set made of 100% cotton from a super cute italian + nigerian designer i met in singapore, named iffy. her shop is called olive ankara. (i also got another cute matchy-matchy set from obaaheema on etsy). this was a super stylish set up (and proceeds of olive ankara’s mask sales go to singaporean nonprofits).

in any case, this combo ultimately didn’t work for me because the fabric was too thick. the weather was way too hot and humid (averaging about 90-95F with humidity in the 80%’s) for the beautiful, hearty 100% woven cotton combined with my hot breath within the mask. it wasn’t breathable for me. i think it would have been ok in a climate that was either less hot or less humid or both, but for me in japanese hot + sticky spring/summer, it just didn’t work. 

also, the shape of this mask lay on my mouth.. so breathing within the mask AND dealing with the heat and humidity, i basically was suffocating. i tried wearing the mask with the plastic “cage” (more info below) which helped with the laying on the mouth / soaking wet fabric on my lips issue, but the fabric was still too hot and sweaty. 

about $2-3.50 each, depending on how big of a box you buy.

there are many knockoffs, but the original comes from TOPOC co. in korea. they’re very fancy and very expensive. each mask individually packed, are made of durable yet tissue-thin, lightweight and 3-d contoured meant to fit perfectly around the nose + mouth. 

however, for me, the mask still sat on my lips, and moved around too much. i’m not sure if it was because my nose bridge is too low, my jawline isn’t big enough to hold it in place or the mask was just too big for my face. also, as i breathed i could feel air going in and out of the scallop-edged sides, which to me defeats the purpose of wearing a mask against infectious disease.

on, about $25 for a box of 20. 

ok so i’m still not 100% sure this is the equivalent to an N95 mask, but i think the k- means that it’s made in korea (?). 

it’s cone-shaped, which allows you to make unobstructed duck faces and doesn’t leave you as sweaty of a mess as the flat rectangular masks that have no structure. you can also wear lipstick and it won’t rub off onto the mask or all over your face (an actual marketing point in japanese ads).

however, they are still disposable and i really wanted to find something reusable and washable.

$25, plus shipping (free with $50+ purchase). comes with 2 plastic “cages” and 10 kn95 filter cartridge pads.

this one i found scrolling on instagram, and had one sent to my mom so she could include it in the care package she was sending to me. it took about a week for it to get from southern california to san francisco.

it’s made of 3 parts – the silicone body, a non-woven filter pad/cartridge that sits inside, and a plastic “cage” piece that holds that filter in place. it’s also cup-shaped, so it doesn’t do that sweaty-laying-on-your-lips thing (and you can wear lipstick, haha). though it does get a bit sweaty right where the mask sits on the skin, the mesh silicone body and breathable filter pad design are pluses.

i could still smell things while wearing it though, so i’m not sure exactly how well it does to filter and protect from covid or fire smoke (i guess if it’s covid-safe you can still smell things and if it’s smoke-safe you can’t?), but the seal between the mask and my nose + mouth is the best out of all the masks i’ve tried. 

you can wash or boil the silicone mask to sanitize both the silicone mask and plastic cage.

photo backstory: this was at a wonderful, almost empty huge community osento (hot spring bathhouse) in shizuoka prefecture. spas like these in asia give you different outfits to wear in co-ed spaces, depending on what you’re doing and where you’re going. this was the outfit for receiving massages and facials. there was another outfit for co-ed heated sauna rooms, and you bathe in the same-sex baths nude.

other masks i haven’t tried but look cool

APLAT cotton face mask

designed and made in san francisco, these come in many different colors, are beautiful in an origami-kinda way, are washable and because they contain no elastic or plastic, are fully biodegradable. they even include a pattern and instructions in case you want to DIY.

$20 for the mask and 3 filters

a good friend who’s done some extensive mask research says this one is his favorite, for its comfort, breathability, washability and the fact that it holds a filter!

my faves

were the last two i tried – the kn95 cone, and the gata mask. they both still rendered me a bit sweaty in humid and hot seasonal japan, but were the least sweaty and most breathable out of all the kinds i tried. i like that the gata is washable and reusable, even though the filter has to eventually be thrown out. however, the small filter is a smaller piece of trash to toss than conventional disposable masks.

in either case, i still got sweaty under my masks, so i carried a clean, small hand towel with me to wipe myself off when i needed to. (in japan this is customary, as folks carry these around to dry their hands off after washing in public bathrooms).

they were also priced pretty reasonably – especially if you reuse them a few times before replacing the replaceable parts.

mask cages

i eluded to these earlier in the post. there are these plastic “cages” you can insert under your mask to create a cone around your mouth, under any type of flat mask. unless you pin, glue or sew them in, they can fall out (nothing is perfect). i think you can find these on amazon, or maybe your local daiso?

ok! that wraps up the face mask fashion show, hope this guide was helpful. check out our next post on my top strategies to alleviate mask zits. 

let me know if you have questions, or ideas to share on what masks worked for you – and didn’t. i’d love to hear.

PLEASE STAY SAFE, healthy and sane.


BLACK LIVES MATTER : thoughts + action items in solidarity


founders of the black lives matter movement: alicia garza, opal tometi, and patrisse cullors-brignac. add to your reading list: “when they call you a terrorist: a black lives matter memoir” by patrisse cullors and ashe bandele.

last week, i scrolled through about 50 wellness industry instagram stories to see who was speaking out about black lives matter (blm). i was looking for guidance – how to express what i felt, as a woman of color, while remaining professional and non-offensive to my mostly-white customer base. to my dismay, i found only five accounts that even remotely mentioned anything related to blm. this infuriated me.

(sidenote: the correlation between this silence and the fact that the wellness industry is vastly white, culturally appropriated and largely accessible only to the elite who can afford it (ie, goop) seems undeniable, and is fit for another standalone post).

i knew in my heart that i needed to do something to raise awareness, to stand for what i believe in, even if it creates difficult conversations, and even if i lose clients.

because unfortunately, in america, skin color matters.

i work with skin. i’ve been a licensed esthetician since my early 20s, and in 2008, started skinSALVATION. the main ethos of my business has always been to empower my clients with the tools they need to take charge of their own skin, so that they aren’t reliant on treatments to stay clear of acne. i want to free people from the hindrance of acne, so that they could be their best and fully confident selves, allowing them to focus on the meaningful contributions they have to give to the world.

the fact that the color of a person’s skin is a hindrance to the life they should be living is simply wrong.

i work with people of all skin colors. i hear stories, from clients, from friends, from people of color; real-life testimonies of discrimination i have never personally experienced. i heard from one girlfriend how tough it was to have kaiser permanente provide the care they promise in their ads, about the trouble she had to go through to get an appointment for her debilitating condition. i heard how a friend’s husband, using his given “ethnic name,” couldn’t get callbacks on job interviews, but switching to his “white” sounding middle name, scored a ton of in-person interviews. i heard from clients, so many of them brilliant and hardworking professionals, how they made it into the corporate world as the “diversity quota hire,” but were held back from promotions. these professionals often watched their white co-workers surpass them, with even less credentials or experience. and i’ve repeatedly heard about the talks my friends give to their kids, about how to behave when they are stopped by the police on their way home from school (aka racial profiling).

i’m a light-skinned, chinese-american woman. even though i was raised by a single, immigrant mother; and even though, by choice, i didn’t finish high school, i realize that compared with many i people i know, i was raised with privilege. i’ve never had a hard time getting medical attention or jobs, and i started my own business with relative ease. and for damn sure, i didn’t get talked to by my mother about anything more serious than staying away from drugs and kids that cut school. i grew up thinking the police were my friends, positive community leaders to call on whenever trouble came along.

i’m so fortunate and incredibly privileged. i’ll never be able to imagine the constant fear and trauma our black brothers and sisters live with every single day, as their ancestors have done for the 400+ years since being thrown into the cargo holds of slave ships, as they’ve had to face the threat of lynching, the cross burnings of the ku klux klan, the real danger from those sworn to protect them.

but i can use my voice and privilege to speak out, and round up my folks. it is long past time. it is a long hard road, but together we can and must overcome these injustices. we need all hands on deck. we need you, because BLACK LIVES MATTER!


before i get into sharing action items, i want to remind you that in the US: women, especially white women; people of color, especially immigrants, and the LGBTQ+ community all got the benefits we enjoy today because of the sacrifices and leadership by black activists and freedom fighters in the civil rights movement. it was the civil rights movement that propelled the women’s, gay, and roe vs. wade movements.

black americans are long overdue the thanks they deserve for fighting so selflessly for people like us, who enjoy the privileges that they are still being systematically denied. they showed up for us, and now we need to show up for them!

*the immigration act at the time centered greeks, poles, portuguese and italians, whom the quota discriminated against in favor of northern europeans. think about this if you now identify as “white” and think the BLM movement is not your problem.

marsha p. johnson, prominent figure of the stonewall uprising of 1969

what to do

in the running resource list below, i’ve included the same black writers and thinkers i am learning so much from, black community organizations and businesses to support, black wellness experts that are so generously offering tools for us all to heal collectively and so much more.

PLEASE share these resources with people in your communities, especially the wellness ones with black friends, colleagues and loved ones that need extra support right now.

this is a time of mixed emotions that are often paralyzing. but you can’t curl up into a ball and disappear, we need you now! doing the work, as different as it may look for each person, is essential. taking action is the only way out of this racist, patriarchal construct that creates more harm than good for us all, and for future generations.

FINALLY, these action items are for everyone who is not black to dive deep into and use, including and especially light-skinned, “white-adjacent” people like me. indigenous and brown people are also very much treated unfairly, but because black people are disproportionately discriminated against, it’s important to center the fight for justice around them now.  when black lives matter, every other marginalized community will be lifted up!


the first step in doing this work is deep, honest and uncomfortable exploration of self. learning how we ourselves are racist (and how we got that way), how we have benefitted from our privilege (at often times, at the cost of others’ not getting it), and most importantly, exactly how to become anti-racist. the above graphic has been circulating on IG, and it’s tough to look at. we must be honest, what in this image have we been a part of, and now that we know, what are we going to do to change that? in the words of angela davis, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be ACTIVELY anti-racist.’

allow yourself to process all the emotions that come up, and if you are not black, it is so important NOT TO TURN AWAY. inform yourself by watching the videos of what’s happening on the frontlines of protests, police brutality, and listen to the voices of our black brothers and sisters sharing what their experiences have been for the last 400+ years. learn what it’s like to literally feel and be hunted, to be oppressed for generations and generations. it is a true privilege to learn about racism, instead of experiencing it your whole life. really getting to know and empathizing with the struggle of black people worldwide will help you learn how to be a better co-conspirator in the fight for justice.

you will be confused, and afraid of doing or saying things for fear of “doing it wrong.” but the silence while figuring it out is deadly – black lives (and many others) are literally being lost while we wait to feel ready and comfortable enough to do the work. form friend groups to process what’s happening, where you can be vulnerable in a safe space, and learn from each other on how to do better.  the main thing is, start, learn and course-correct along the way.

there is no perfect way to do anything, the most important thing is that you simply start.

checking in – some pointers

DO NOT ask your black friends what to do, or tell them how you think they should cope, what “good things” you’re doing or unload your emotional guilt or sadness on them. they don’t owe anyone more emotional or intellectual labor than they already deal with on a daily basis. do the research to empower yourself, and let your love show by your actions!

DO send love to your black friends, and let them know you are available for them whenever they need. and don’t expect a response back. they are going through it and need to practice self-preservation, which may include not responding to you immediately (or if at all). it’s not about you, so don’t take it personal. however, feel free to buy and send them a meal, a case of wine, send some love notes or seriously, straight up send them a venmo! especially if they are in the social justice space, putting the work in so that WE can learn about how the systems we benefit from are oppressing THEM.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, check in with your NON-BLACK community and have those difficult conversations about white supremacy. what do they feel about what’s going on? do they even recognize it? what do they plan to do about it? who are they voting for and why, and how will they hold those elected accountable? are they talking to their parents, families, friends, colleagues, etc etc?

action items

probably THE MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do, is to register and to actually vote. it’s people that have the “one vote won’t matter” mentality that got us in this political mess in the first place, so don’t one of those.

registering literally takes less than 2 minutes. the next presidential election is this november and we need to make sure each and every single vote counts!!

SIGN PETITIONS to reopen cases for full investigations

signing petitions take less than 1-2 minutes to do, longer if you want to write a personal note. i’ve also heard that sending snail mail actually counts for more, so if you’re able to write and send a postcard to the local government offices where these crimes occur, do that too!

here is an article on how to help black trans people now, who’s deaths are usually swept under the rug and ignored. there are petitions in this article to sign too.

breonna taylor
was an award-winning EMT who planned on going to nursing school. she was shot to death while asleep in her own home, when police came looking for a suspect at the wrong house, who was already in custody. she would have turned 27 years old on june 5, 2020.

nina pop
was a 28 year old trans-woman who was murdered in her missouri apartment as a result of anti-black LGBTQ+ violence. the murderer has been arrested and is awaiting trial, the petition is to raise awareness.

tony dade
a trans-man who was killed by the police in tallahassee, florida. “crimes against trans-people are grossly underreported. in less than a week of being released from prison, tony had been robbed, survived a car crash, had his heart broken by the woman he thought loved him, and was violently attacked by 5 men as bystanders cheered on while live-streaming his beating on social media. all of this, before being gunned down by police. tony deserved better than that, and he most certainly doesn’t deserve our judgement in death.” – shared from ashley marie preston

kendrick johnson
he was 17 when he was brutally murdered in his high school gym in 2013. the details on the internet are gruesome, do an internet search if you want to find out more. this petition was shared by kim kardashian (i know, sorry) to reopen and do a full investigation on his case. though the petition synopsis is very poorly written, the point is to get enough public pressure on the goverment officials to get justice served!

marshae jones
a 27-year-old pregnant woman in alabama got shot in the stomach, killing her baby, is now in jail and charged for failing to protect her unborn child. the woman who shot her was not indicted. UPDATE: the manslaughter charges against marshae were dropped! you can read about the confusion of the law in the article linked above.

police force defunding and regulation

divest inflated police budgets to instead fund social services, access to food, healthcare, housing, education, parks, jobs, youth programs, restorative justice, and mental health workers to create better + safer communities, not police them! tarana burke, founder of the #metoo movement, created a great slideshow explaining the #defundpolice movement. 

to be clear: divesting does not mean totally shutting down the police. it means to take some of their already insanely inflated funding and moving it to service and care for the communities that need it most (like education, affordable housing, human services, parks + rec and transportation). the SFPD spent $611 million dollars in 2018-2019, oakland $264 million (out of the city’s $592m) and LAPD spends $3.14 billion with a B (1/3 of the total city budget; AND he was trying to raise it by 7%!!!).

think of it as taking just a few million of jeff bezos’ trillion dollar fortune, and giving that to schools that need new books.

defund berkeley police department petition – sign

defund oakland police department – learn more and donate

sf mayor london breed has already promised to defund the SFPD, so hold her accountable by writing and calling the mayor’s office

require racial bias and psychological evaluations for all police every 6-12 months – sign

require virginia PD to have de-escalation training – sign

BAY AREA organizations to donate to

in terms of donating, if you can, please do. even if it’s just $5! every little bit counts. over the years skinSALVATION has donated thousands of dollars to causes near and dear to my heart, including monthly contributions to the ACLU and to, a non-profit started by my good friend (and longest-running client!) linda calhoun.

there are a ton of organizations doing good work, but i decided to center my list around the smaller local organizations that often fall through the cracks, since the bigger national orgs have been getting the center stage spotlight (and are getting overfunded!) these days.

please let me know if you know of non-profit orgs that are black-led and of service to the black community in the bay area! most i found that were credible were oakland based.

here’s a list of ways to support the black LGBTQ+ community.

the east oakland collective
serving oakland’s unhoused brothers/sisters and other vulnerable populations (seniors, disabled, immune-compromised, low-income families) with food and critical health supplies. you can donate here.

bail for protesters in jail
with bails as high as $250k for protestors arrested in sacramento, all the brave people (many of them youth students!) that got arrested need as much help as possible to get bailed out. the bay area anti-repression committee fund has a donation drive started (and have plenty of other resources on their page), and broke ass stuart wrote a great article on how the bail system works, and mentions many bay area funds to contribute to.

people’s breakfast oakland
is a socialist org serving the people of oakland, that helps the houseless of oakland. they also have an educational podcast called hella black podcast that uplifts the of black radical organizers that are doing the work on the field usually not reported in mainstream news. you can donate here, just scroll to the bottom.

TGI justice project
focuses on supporting the trans, gender variant and intersex community in and out of the prison, jail and detention centers of the bay area by facilitating re-entry programs for those coming out of the incarceration system, and connecting them with legal support. you can donate here. 

anti-terror police project
a black-led, multi-racial and multi-generational non-profit dedicated to supporting the victims and families of police brutalization in communities of color by documenting police inflicted abuse, and connecting them with resources such as legal representation and healing. they hold events and meet regularly. it seems they are oakland based, and have a sacramento branch as well. you can donate here.

the center for black equity
the global leader of the black LGBTQ+ pride movement, and national leader connecting the community to resources and education.

founded by my good friend and mentor (and one of my very first facial clients!) linda calhoun. she’s created a wonderful non-profit and database centered around professional women of color, to inspire girls (and boys!) all over the world to reach for the dreams, no matter the color of their skin, no matter where they are. the site is wonderfully diverse with women of all backgrounds speaking to all aspects of their jobs, sharing tools and encouragement on exactly how to get into those industries. it’s also brilliantly abundant with resources for educators, mentors and parents – like toolkits, activities and posters! i love linda and this work of hers, and am proud to be a monthly donor to empower future generations. you can donate here.

donate for free by streaming
if money is tight, you can donate for free by streaming any of the videos on this youtube playlist i compiled. by letting these videos play and not clicking away from the ads, all the money generated from the ads played will be donated to BLM.

the strategist has a list of 135 orgs to donate to, benefitting black lives and POC’s

black writers + thinkers to read, listen and learn from

please consider buying your books at america’s oldest black-owned bookstore called marcus books in oakland in-store (they’re open!) and soon, online. they’re still working on their website, but here’s the contact page they’ve got now, including an order request form and mailing list at the bottom of the page, until their official website launches.

i’ve started a running youtube playlist of our great black speakers and artists, that you can listen to while you do things (i like to paint and do dishes while listening!).

in addition to the greats:
angela davis
audre lorde
june jordan
toni morrison
james baldwin
malcolm x
martin luther king

check out:

ijeoma oluo
seattle-based author of “so you want to talk about race,” a great practical guide on doing exactly that

rachel cargle
akron, ohio based writer, public academic, and founder of so many amazing social justice focused brands (including the loveland foundation, offering free therapy to black women and the great unlearning, a donation-based uncensored american history course).

sonya renee taylor
new zealand based queer poet, activist and author of “the body is not an apology, the power of radical self love” and “celebrate your body and it’s changes too,” written for girls about puberty.

ibram x. kendi
author of “how to be antiracist,” and many others, including a children’s book “antiracist baby” coming out june 16, 2020. he wrote that “being an antiracist requires persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination.”

ta-nehisi coates
writer and journalist, author of “between the world and me,” a letter to his son about growing up black in america.

black businesses to support in the bay area

roots plant nursery
you can buy + roadside pickup tues-sun 1-5pm
owned by sf native blasian (black and asian!) owner michelle, she outfitted our last clinic with all of our plants. her shop on 16th and south van ness was my refuge when i needed some comfort on a tough day, she is so generous with her love with me. visiting her shop is an instant mood booster and bonus, she has 2 cute older puppies to pet. 🙂

black earth farms
you can donate or buy from them
run by black and indigenous folks, they have CSA boxes on a sliding scale, but prioritize the distribution of food to students, houseless folx, elderly folx, indigenous, afro, trans, and gender non-conforming folks.

sfgate’s article on more black owned farms and CSA’s you can support

you can buy from them via instagram or at their SF store
owned and operated by my good friend delila, relove is a haven for fashionable used clothing to buy or sell. you’ll find great basics, niche brands and amazing designer vintage.

joy street design
owned and operated by my friend and colleague kelly, she’s one of interior design’s few black designers based in the heart of oakland.

here’s sf chronicle food writer soleil ho’s comprehensive list of black-owned restaurants in the bay area and eater sf’s article with links to an LA list.

marcus books
you can buy books from them, or donate to keep their shop open
as mentioned earlier, america’s oldest black owned bookstore in oakland.

one united bank
america’s largest black-owned bank, you can move your savings and checking accounts over to them online OR just open up a savings account and keep a nest egg there. letting your money sit in community and black banks like one united helps them gain capital to make loans for the communities they serve, creating economic literacy and independence.

(i have a personal savings account at one united, and all skinSALVATION accounts are at self-help federal credit union, who focus on empowering the black and brown communities of the bay area).


the strategist has a list of 125 black businesses to support

to keep up to date on news affecting the black community locally and nationally

an organization dedicated to preserving and encouraging black culture to thrive in the bay area

here’s a list of black centered news outlets

shaun king
speaker, author and activist, founder of, who grew up with..

lee merrit esq
the civil rights attorney who represents many families of black lives lost, including ahmaud arbery.

* there is some controversy around shaun king’s fundraising efforts and use of “trauma porn” to publicize black crime cases, but his instagram feed is very up to date, he was the first modern black activist i’ve learned from and he has organized many successful large scale petitions and rallies to bring criminals to justice.
* however, he released documentation (including bank statements, tax returns, FEC reports to the government and statements from families he’s helped.
* it’s a bit confusing because most all the black women writers i respect aren’t down with shaun, i’m not sure if it’s an MLK/malcom x rivalry thing where they share the same end goal, but very different approaches.
* in any case, if you know of another news source as up to date, please share them with me.

black wellness experts

dr. tiffany lester MD
SF’s parsley health practitioner is an sS’er, and at parsley health integrates holistic and conventional medicine for all-around medical care. @drtiffanylester on IG

dr. lisa upshaw, acupuncturist
based in LA, i found her on instagram and she’s generously shared many tools you can integrate for relieving stress during these times. @drlisaupshaw on IG

the wellness of we
was a 7 day virtual conference of speakers working together towards true, all-inclusive, collective wellness. their talks were recorded and were very inspiring to me personally, to keep skinsalvation going in the midst of covid and recent BLM happenings. @thebigwe on IG

kevin curry of fitmencook
i found him on instagram, and love his upbeat personality and very easy to follow paleo-inspired recipes (sometimes you’ll have to omit dairy). @fitmencook on IG

lalah delia
author of “vibrate higher daily,” a black prolific spiritual writer in a sea of white authors. her messages are powerful and timely, i love seeing her posts on my IG feed for daily uplift and encouragement through tough times. @lalahdelia on IG

support black film and tv

there are sooooo many. here’s a short list to start you off:
12 years a slave
time: the kalief browder story
hidden figures
when they see us
insecure (i lovvvve this show)
trigger warning with killer mike (a rapper and social justice activist)

talks to help you understand the black american experience:

here’s a youtube playlist of black speakers and musical artists, which include the ones below and more. please let me know if there are any you like so that i can add them!

kimberly jones speech about black americans’ systematic economic defeats (7 minutes)

trevor noah’s 18 minute monologue

activist and rapper killer mike, atlanta native, speaking to his city to get their shit together! this is a prime example of how to round your people up to plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize for the fight for justice.

jane elliott first started teaching about racism the day after martin luther king jr. got killed, to her class of third graders. here’s a 7 min video of her talking a little about it with jimmy fallon, one where she checks a room full of people in 45 seconds, and a 30 minute vintage 1992 episode of oprah, where she conducts the “blue eye/brown eye” exercise demonstrating and conversing about racism.


here are some very thoughtfully and deeply researched spotify playlists compiled by my good friend craig, that combine hip hop, soul, speeches and soundbites from great black artists and leaders. i asked him to write a few blurbs explaining the background behind the playlist names, which are included below. they’ve pumped me up and hope they too keep you inspired and enthusiastic about the fight ahead!

fear of a black planet
The title Fear Of A Black Planet speaks to the insanity that overtakes white folks whenever high profile figures from the subjugated class demonstrate autonomy or speak out with their own authority on topics of race and inequality. It can be seen in the image of Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists in solidarity for the black power movement on the olympic podium at the Mexico City games in 1968 and traced through to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee in protest of police brutality during the 2016 NFL season. This playlist was also informed by the 2008 documentary Salute by Matt Norman, the book, Revolt Of The Black Athlete by Harry Edwards, and the movie, High Flying Bird by Steven Soderbergh.

Social Justice Grenadiers, Right To Assemble Dragoons, and Radical Ideology Lancers co-opts British military terminology (Grenadiers, Dragoons, and Lancers) and combines them with the language of social justice reform. These terms were chosen in direct contextual response to the ways in which the current administration has chosen to characterize lawfully peaceful protesters with criminalizing language such as “thugs” and “looters”.

social justice grenadiers
Social Justice Grenadiers could be said to throw “thought bombs”

right to assemble dragoons
Right To Assemble Dragoons could be seen as the “mounted cavalry” of significantly numbered protesters demonstrating their constitutional right to free assembly

radical ideology lancers
Radical Ideology Lancers could be viewed as individuals who are “armored” with indefensible moral arguments against an unjust system

the invisible contract

The Invisible Contract is best described in a recent article by Adam Serwer for the Atlantic.
It’s about how black folks and people of color are supposedly “treated equal” in our so-called free society, until they come up against the invisible contract… which says they’re not. These songs speak to that disparity.
anderson paak (a half black and half korean artist out of LA) just put out his video for his song “lockdown.” the beats are awesome, his words are true and the imagery powerful.

more lists + resources

75 things white people can do for racial justice

FREE ANTI-RACISM CLASSES til june 30! generously offered by the diversity and resiliency institute of el paso

instagram accounts to follow


@bldpwr – engaging with athletes and entertainers to use their platform for social change




@diet_prada – most known for busting designers, they have been offering really great coverage of current events, unearthing racist practices in the fashion + magazine industry as of late


@shak_simley – SF city and county department of racial equity director (who used to work at!)

@nedratawwab – therapist, boundaries expert, writer

@sonyareneetaylor – listing her twice because she’s that good. her daily “what’s up y’all” videos are great convo starters for dismantling the racist structures we live in.

@yrsadaleyward – beautiful poet

@mspackyetti – brittany packnett cunningham, activist, co-founder of campaign zero, former executive director of teach for america in st. louis, former member of obama’s 21st century policing task force.


@nextshark – global asian news

@aapiwomenlead – non-profit in oakland, ca

@kalamendoza – a filipinx activist

@activismgirl – young asian college student that’s been posting a lot of petitions to sign




@favianna1 – oakland native artist + political, environmental, vegan and sex activist

@funnyaida – comedienne + activist, real raw thoughts and i love her for it


@your.latina.nutritionist – loving self-care provider promoting healthy relationships with food

@richiereseda – formerly incarcerated activist




@hellomynameiswednesday – political british artist with really great messages and education in her art





@yung_pueblo – amazing poetry that offers internal reflection

@thebigwe – host of conference i loved so much, mentioned above

@thenapministry – rest is a form of resistance and reparations


@theconsciouskid – resources for raising great kids

@teachermominspired – my friend’s sister shares her educational play exercises

@diversereads – books!

@hereweread – books!

@themompsychologist – therapy specifically for moms (and dads)


@feminismbitches – funny stuff!

@lizclimo – really great little cartoons






this is by no means a complete list! and i’d love your additions.

i haven’t figured out how to manage comments, which is why they are closed. i literally get 3000 hits of spam on every blog post, so if you want to contribute more resources, further converse or reach out please email us at frontdesk @ skinsalvationsf .com





mask-ne and shelter in place 101

hey y’all, kim here currently in tokyo holed up in my tiny airbnb apartment safely sheltering in place. i hope you are holding it down, staying healthy and sane.

a couple of clients emailed to ask about how to deal with life as it is right now, and what to do about mask-ne (acne you’re getting from wearing masks!). here are the thoughts i jot down and sent them, and hope you find them helpful too.

basically everything we’ve ever taught you about living a low-inflammatory, acne-safe lifestyle are the same things that should bring stability and calm in your life during this stressful time. sleeping and eating at regular times, exercising daily, managing your stress in whatever ways work best for you, etc etc – no magic silver bullet, all the same shit. 🙂

i’ve been incorporating all of these while trying to practice extra compassion for myself which i think has been working – along with cooking all of my meals, i’ve finally gotten to a place where i’m razor-focused on (finally) finishing up the acne book! (i’m two weeks in, and i hope to have it all finished by the end of may. wish me luck!)

hoping these resources help you out, let me know if you have other ideas to share, want me to cover more areas or find more resources for you.


this is a big one. everything we’ve always taught our clients lifestyle-wise is to be integrated for exactly this particularly stressful time. most importantly, be gentle with yourself. it’s an incredibly unprecedented stressful time and judging yourself is not going help one bit. try to move towards a mindset of doing things that make you happy but also are good and healthy for you – in a way, just loving yourself as you are.
some IG accounts i love:
  • @lalahdelia – author of ‘vibrate higher daily’, a beautiful black woman author, spiritual writer and wellness educator
  • @the.holistic.psychologist – queer psychologist nicole lepera tells it like it is, speaks truths you didn’t even know you needed to disseminate and process; boundaries, trauma, addiction, ego, self-betrayal, all of it. really really deep work that i’m so grateful for her making so accessible and easy to understand.
  • @repairing_the_nervous_system – jessica macguire out of australia (i think?), she speaks specifically how to self-regulate the nervous system through trauma and the body
  • @kanpobliss – dr. jun negoro, an acupuncturist i have been following for years on IG and finally got to meet while in singapore earlier this year. she breaks down TCM into easy to understand (and cute!!) posts, and her app is impressively amazing and free!  a great tool to easily integrate some TCM knowledge and practice into your life.
some of my personal youtube playlists:
i’ll continue adding to these playlists as i discover new cool things i like.

2 ingredient sweet potato roti! the video is on my youtube playlist, but it’s pretty simple: mash together 1 part hot + steaming sweet potato with 1/2 to 1 part flour. once all is thoroughly mixed, form a log and cut into even pieces (1 whole potato +flour will make about 6 rotis). roll out onto a floured surface to 2mm thickness, then cook on a dry fry pan on medium heat, flipping every 30 seconds for about 2-3 mins. puffing up is ok, they’ll deflate naturally when you pull them off the pan. when done, tuck them into a cloth napkin/towel blanket to keep them warm and flexible. leftovers can be stored in an airtight bag to keep them soft, and gently warmed on the stove + will keep the next day or two, longer in the fridge. sooo good for avocado and/or whatever wraps. enjoy!


  • try eating only sweets that you make. this is how i’ve been getting through it (especially since i don’t want to go out, and food made by others you don’t know what’s in them, and refined sugar is high). michael pollan in one of his books wrote, it’s ok to eat junk food if you make it yourself; chances are you will just eat less of it, appreciate it more, and use better quality ingredients
  • try eating fruit as a sweet instead of something that has straight-up sugar in it
  • try using low glycemic sugars like coconut sugar, jaggery or treacle to replace regular cane sugar in your recipes. jaggery or treacle you can find at ethnic food markets so you’ll be supporting small local biz while avoiding crowded big box stores too 🙂 (ps, you can usually reduce sugar in recipes by half, and the finished thing will come out totally ok!)
  • i personally also make it a rule to eat savory food first and eat a sweet afterward (or as an isolated afternoon snack) as a treat, to keep my (usually high) blood sugar stable.
  • lastly, a tip that i got from my mama: brush your teeth immediately after eating. this for some reason helps me not crave sweets after getting my mouth all minty fresh. i’d say it works about 95% of the time – but maybe moreso because i’m just too lazy to brush my teeth again 🙂


  • man this is tough for me too, always has been. but, i have been doing 20-30 minute workouts (here’s my youtube list) and on @popsugarfitness ‘ IGTV, because when you think about it, 20-30 minutes really isn’t that much time. you can do anything for 20 mins. or maybe even 10! anything to start, you’ll likely keep going once you get started and get over the hump. with that in mind, i’m more motivated to get a short but effective workout in before i eat breakfast. it also helps me concentrate better, and be in a much better and healthier mood. (tip: you can watch IG TV on your desktop, just go to their profile and click the IGTV icon underneath their highlights; makes for much easier viewing while following along)
  • try to exercise without thinking about it. just do it first thing when you wake up and put your workout clothes on. the 30 mins you’d take waffling back and forth about it will be over and you’d have already been done with your workout!
  • if you can get outside while social distancing safely, getting out into nature or just outside for a walk in fresh air (with a mask) counts too. now (or ever) is not the time to guilt yourself for not training for a crazy marathon. just getting out of the house (even just sitting on your stoop or on the roof) for some direct exposure to natural weather elements definitely counts for something.
  • keeping a daily schedule is helpful just so there is some structured flow in your day. this can include showering first thing in the am, putting on an “outside” outfit even if working from home, and then changing back into pj’s after a nice nighttime bath to prepare for bed.


  • eating enough at regular times is really important. there’s a huge tendency to snack all day and that can mess with the digestion, not giving the stomach enough time in between digesting meals to create more of the digestive juices needed for your guts to break down and assimilate the food we eat. finding an activity or hobby to keep you occupied will help boredom munchies 😉
  • keeping a regular bedtime is also super important; i get into bed at 10, read a book and aim to sleep by 11 latest.
  • ok so a client emailed about drinking “several matcha teas a day” – maybe you can relate to caffeine consumption or any other excessive thing you’re doing now that you don’t do “normally”. and so i wrote: hopefully you are making them and not drinking bottled sugary/dairy stuff. can you think about what you are compensating for in drinking so much caffeine? is it just something you’re doing without thinking about it, or are you super tired because your sleep schedule is wonky? in any case, these are things to think about, evaluate and adjust. personally,i alternate between matcha, golden milk, ginger and chocolate drinks i make myself with water, nut milks and a tiny bit of coconut sugar.
  • it’s a great time to google recipes to try! i’ve bookmarked a ton of recipes i always wanted to try and never got to do them til now, like a 2 ingredient sweet potato roti, 2 ingredient paleo banana pancake, banana oatmeal cookies and savory recipes from all over the world – think of your favorite dishes to order when you go to eat thai or chinese for example.
  • or support your local small businesses for new food ideas – think bodegas, ethnic grocery stores, or restaurants that are offering pickup. there are tons of gems out there if you take the time to try out a new spice mix or tamale joint.


  • you all know by now that i love using the‘simple habit’ meditation app; there are soooo many well-curated gems in there and this app has helped me so much through my last several stressful years. the link will give you 2 weeks for free.
  • journaling / writing things down / lists help me get my thoughts, frustrations, fears, dreams and ideas out of my head, which helps my mind settle for bedtime / be generally less stressed out throughout the day
  • make sure to get some laughs in your day; @thedailyshow and @sarahcpr on IG have been keeping me informed but in a way that emits laughs. oh man. classic stand-up shows are also really good.
  • keep in touch with folks, staying in touch with your community and those you love can make or break your day. this is a PERFECT opportunity to catch up with people you’ve been meaning to get to know better, or spend more time with, like elders in your neighborhood
  • i’ve personally been very triggered by the current events in the us (political, racial violence), so i try to limit my exposure/reading of that stressful media AND do what i can to act on the cause; to me this means raising awareness and writing emails to government offices, signing petitions. seeing the shit and not doing anything about it makes me feel powerless and defeated, so doing even one small thing helps me feel more empowered and less depressed about the world.
  • it helps to get friends on board, or at least know what you’re up to. if you have roommates you can let them know that you want to work in healthier habits and maybe they can join in with you, or at least morally support you.

MASK-NE: if you’re breaking out from wearing all these damn masks

  • ice as per usual, maybe even more. it’s definitely meditative so will do double duty in calming your nerves by taking your mind off everything else except the freezing cold
  • consider taking the supplements optizinc or zyflamend for systemic inflammatory support; a nurse client has done this for years and it’s helped (we stopped selling them but you can easily find them online)
  • if you can wear a new clean fabric mask that you switch out every day vs those paper n95 type / breath-restricting kinds every day that would be better for breathability and skin friction but if you can’t there’s not much room to work with 🙁 i ordered a mask and matching headwrap from this lovely nigerian-born-in-italy-scientist-turned-designer iffy of olive ankara i met in singapore that allows you to tuck a surgical mask inside the washable cloth mask, so finding or making something like this could be good. those clear plastic face shields are good too, but aren’t to replace masks. (ALSO scroll down to see sS’er marissa making masks by hand in the bay for donations or free!)
  • try to stay inside safe spaces where you don’t need to wear masks as much as you can ie at home and when alone in your car
  • wash your face and ice as soon as you get home and if you can, tolerate toner / exfoliate
  • manage other inflammatory factors as much as possible incorporating stress management, emotional support, self-compassion, low glycemic diet, regular sleep habits, hydration etc etc. all the healthy things we teach you is to keep inflammation down
  • at this point it is what it is and this all we can do. stay strong and rest in the fact you know what your acne is from and know what to do to get rid of it as soon as you’re able (to stop wearing the masks!)
  • come for treatment when the clinic opens back up, but know that repeated wearing of the masks will still pose the same irritations

ice ya face! image source:


maybe you’ve been eating stuff or experimenting with products and are breaking out. or are just maintaining your already clear skin! either case, stick with your BASIC regimen twice a day. do this for at least 2-3 weeks before trying to work any of the other stuff (including serums) back in, if you even need them at that point:
  • cleanse
  • ice
  • tone – probably 5% if you can tolerate that twice a day. if not, then 2.5% once then twice til you run out then 5%
  • hydrating gel or rejuvenation serum if you have/need it
  • spf in the day and hydrating cream at night
this will address pretty much any and all skin concerns (breaking out, inflammation, anti-aging), and keeping inflammation down is paramount to keeping the purge as painless as possible.
again, stick with the basics and check-in with us in a few weeks to see how we can bump it up, if you even need to.
rejuvenation serum is safe to use anytime, after toning and before moisturizing preferably day to protect against sun damage, but nighttime works too because it feels and smells good, which will help lift your spirits (and offer moisture/antioxidant support to your skin).


a couple of our fab clients are doing great things for the community and i want to share them with you! check these ladies out and give them a shout. and please let me know if you’re doing something awesome you’d like me to share too 🙂

sS’er marissa (@marissadpoulin) has been getting crafty and is making masks for donations (and for free if you can’t donate). she’s got several fabrics to choose from – check her out on IG if you are interested 🙂

lovely sS’er berlin-based acupuncturist rachel root made some super cute videos: “three morning routines for a better day” and “couples acupressure massage“.


since she is now operating independently as a licensee of skinSALVATION, we thought it’d be a good idea for her to start a new IG page to communicate to her SF clients directly about clinic-related updates. you can keep up with what she’s up to on her daily walks, and updates as they come. give her a follow here 🙂

remember to breathe deeply (and safely), be patient, be kind.
we’re all going through it, together.
take good care of you and each other.