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!

NEOPRENE MASKS
$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).


SURGICAL MASKS
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.

AIRINIUM
$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?

FABRIC MASKS
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. 


THE AIR QUEEN
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.

CONE SHAPED K95 MASKS
on amazon.co.jp, 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.

GATA MASK
$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
$24

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.


OUTDOOR RESEARCH
$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.

xx
kim

kim’s bug bite (and heat rash) hack

i love camping and the outdoors, nature and grassy wooded areas. being bug bite prone though, is a surefire way for me to become a debbie downer. as a kid spending a summer in the philippines, i remember once that my legs were so eaten up and raw that my aunt took me to a dermatologist to check out my poor limbs; they gave me a cortisone cream, which didn’t do a damn thing. most conventional bug bite creams on the market are cortisone based which still don’t do a thing for me (and are toxic to boot). my skin is so sensitive to these bites that they usually quickly turn into huge bumps that make me look deformed (no joke), and are sooooo itchy that they distract me from enjoying myself in said nature, putting me in a cranky mood. 🙁

over the years, with extensive research and travel, i think i’ve figured out my magic combination of bug bite prevention and relief! and they are, for the most part, non-toxic. different bugs exist in different places, so these may not be as effective in one locale than another, depending on your own skin and where in the world you are. but if you have to use DEET, use it. it’s better to be safe and not get malaria than to try and be all hippy with your natural remedies, imo.

BEFORE YOU GET BIT – PREVENT
so you know an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure bla bla bla. in this case, it’s totally true. i am not above putting on a hat with a bug net on it, and in most cases find that diligently applying and reapplying my anti-mosquito potions are enough for me.

KNOW THE BUGGERS’ TIME + PLACE
mosquitoes are notorious for being the most active at dawn, dusk, and around still water + swampy areas. they also like to get our ankles and feet while sitting at dining tables. being mindful of these times and locales have been helpful for me to know when i should stay on guard, inside or perhaps take the seat at the end of the table vs in the corner against a wall.

FOR THE LOWER BODY – PICARIDIN LOTION
i like the sawyer picaridin insect repellent lotion to put on my legs and find that once i put this on before going out for the day, i don’t need to reapply, so long as i don’t get wet. it’s important to speak on lotion vs spray because applying lotion with your hands ensures a more thorough application, thus making it stay on the skin better, last longer, and won’t easily sweat or rub off like a water-based spray (the same can be said about any other spray product, SPF included). picaridin is an ingredient that is synthesized in a lab (as most skincare ingredients are) that is modeled after an extract from the chrysanthemum flower, and also has been shown to be just as effective as DEET, without the toxicity or fragrance (check out the EWG’s stance on it here).

FOR THE UPPER BODY AND FACE – GREENERWAYS ORGANIC BUG SPRAY
i am not a fan of chemicals in general (toxicity, smell, general grossness and support of those industries), and will use chemicals only when i have to (like using the picaridin lotion above). i much prefer using natural products as much as possible and in the realm of bug spray, will stick to using a natural one on my upper body, to avoid inhaling or ingesting said toxins. if you eat with your fingers, are doing any smooching or are handling babies/kids, it’s best to be exposed to a natural bug spray than a toxic and bitter tasting one.

for years i have loved using the greenerways organic bug spray, the only one on the market i’ve found to be water-based AND organic. most natural ones on the market are in a base of cloggy ass soybean oil and are just oily, sticky and gross. plus, it’s a small family out of pennsylvania that makes this stuff, so all the more i am happy to support another small biz. i’ll decant this into a smaller spray bottle to take with me for reapplications, since natural products work best with repeated usage over time.

the way i apply this is to spray it onto my hands, and then rub it onto the areas affected. remember, actually massaging product into your skin is going to yield a much more effective and long lasting application.. as well as prevent the product from 1. being wasted, and 2. being sprayed onto surfaces other than your skin, including rivers, lakes and oceans. (i have seen people put on spray sunscreen while standing in freshwater lakes and it is disgusting how much ends up in the water.)

note: i find that their 4oz bottle is difficult to handle, so decanting the liquid into their smaller 1oz (or a different shaped spray bottle, muji and rainbow grocery has great ones) is necessary for me.

AFTER YOU GET BIT – TREAT

DON’T SCRATCH OR PICK AT IT (sound familiar?)
the key is to preventing more itching, scarring and swelling is to RESIST SCRATCHING. the less you scratch, the less annoying it will be, the less scarring will occur (from scratching the skin open, leaving you with scabs) and the faster it will heal, i promise! the same can be said for acne 🙂 here are some things you can do instead:

SLAP IT
some hard, heavy slaps on the bumps as they appear may be enough to numb the nerve endings that make it start itching.. this is a quick fix until you can get access to the following:

ICE!
just as you would to relieve inflammation for acne, icing is one of the best remedies to employ. it numbs the nerve endings and instantly relieves the itching – with relief lasting (for me, usually) at least a couple of hours afterward. also, if you are getting bug bites you’re probably in a hot place, so getting ice cubes – or just something cold at least – should (theoretically) be easy. i have no shame in digging an ice cube out of my water glass at a restaurant and icing the bumps on my legs, arms, etc for relief. i’ll just wrap it with a napkin to soak up the dripping water as best i can.

MUSCLE RUB
anything that’s got camphor or menthol or peppermint is going to have that cooling sensation that’s great for numbing down itching. when i was in thailand, every convenience store i went to had some kind of a tiger-balm thing, be it a salve in a jar or an oil in a roller stick. i am a big fan of the oil roller sticks because it makes for a mess-free application, and is multi-purpose. i used them to relieve headaches, shoulder pains, sore feet and legs from standing around for hours (like i did when mom and i were in bangkok for the late rama 9’s cremation ceremonies). know that it can take a few minutes for the itching to go away after applying these oils, so have patience to allow them to work their way into the skin, calming those itch nerves. this is why i like to ice first to quickly numb, then apply these oils to prolong the itch relief.

when i get heat rash, this also helps immensely with managing the itching associated with it, speeding up healing. for my own skin, i find washing the affected skin with an anti-bacterial soap, keeping the skin as dry as possible (no applying oils or lotions, even aloe gel!) and relieving the itching with a muscle oil rub stuck is the speediest way to recovery.

in the US, you can find saje’s peppermint halo. i LOVE this stuff and use it everyday. i roll it onto my head, temples, neck and shoulders to help keep me calm in a busy day of work, in traffic or when i’m bored. it has that minty effect to help calm down any itchiness from bites!

TRUTHPASTE
i went camping at the south yuba river a year or two ago and totally forgot all my bug bite stuff. and of course, our campsite was buzzing with skeeters and were having at it on my face. so i went on a hunt to a “natural” store in town and thought to look for a bug bite salve. one lady behind the counter suggested i mix up some clay and essential oils to apply, but the other lady remembered an all-natural toothpaste they had which was basically the same thing, just fancier (plus already mixed up and ready to use). i was skeptical but desperate so i bought the stuff and lo and behold it worked.  so well in fact, that it’s actually changed my life.

preventing bug bites can be tough, but so long as you have the right tools to manage the itching, it’s not that bad at all. a little of this paste goes a long way, leaves no residue or stain, and is soooo effective. for me, just a dab of this pretty instantly calms down itching. i forget about the bite, and get on with enjoying my nature experience. it’s really been amazing how much quality of life enhancement and sense of relief this little product has given me. it comes in a glass 2oz jar, so i scoop some out into a smaller plastic jar to keep in my day bag and reapply as needed. one jar has literally lasted me years, and i freak out if i can’t find or forget it on my travels.

24 HOUR RULE (?)
so maybe i’m making this up, but it seems for me that most bites – so long as i don’t go crazy waking up those itch nerves by scratching them as soon as i get them – itch only once in a 12- or 24-hour cycle. i get bit, i employ any or all of the above post-bite tactics, and then i’m not bothered by them for another 12 or 24 hours. then after a few days, the itching subsides completely and the bites heal up and away. observing and knowing this has somehow calmed my nerves whenever i get into an itching frenzy.

THE AFTERMATH – PIGMENTATION
so hopefully you didn’t scratch the hell out of your skin, creating a wound and thus scarring. but if you did, you can still employ the tricks above and if you must, gently rub-and-not-quite-but-kinda-scratch around the bite/wound to relieve any itching as it heals. if there is pigmentation left behind, it will likely go away on its own, or you can use any of your active sS skin products (like your mandelic toner, skin brightener or vitamin a serum) to speed up the brightening of the spots left behind once the scab heals and falls off.

i hope these tips help you out and make natural outdoor time less miserable. these discoveries were a serious game changer for me and i hope it helps others too!

acne-safe travel tips

some quickie acne-safe travel tips!

 

  • charcoal pills & oregano oil / when traveling, you sometimes have to take risks when eating! sS founder and ceo, kim, likes to pack activated charcoal pills which absorb toxins and help with digestion & gastrointestinal discomfort. it’s best to take 2 hours prior to eating something questionable, or within 2 hours if you start to feel discomfort. oregano oil is also handy for this reason, with anti-fungal & anti-bacterial properties, it can help to prevent illnesses & infections that we are commonly more susceptible to while traveling. (taking one or two charcoal pills each hour with plenty of water will help stop diarrhea quickly, and the oregano oil should help with eliminating toxic bacteria. be advised that for a day or two after taking this supplement you may experience some constipation and dark/black movements, so drink lots of water and try to eat lots of insoluble fiber to help rebalance your gut). 

 

  • soap nuts /  we have quite a few globetrotters as clients who travel for long periods of time. this can be tricky when it comes to finding an acne-safe way to do laundry. since packing a gallon of laundry detergent isn’t really an option, these soap nuts would be a great alternative. soap nuts are actually dried berries from the himalayas that act as a surfactant when lathered up in the wash to naturally & thoroughly clean your laundry. they are travel-sized & can be reused up to 10 times 🙂

 

  • hydration – both inside + out/  we’ve all experience travel-induced breakouts and dehydrated skin (not to mention all-too-common constipation). travel is very stressful on the body and it’s important to take extra care and be proactive about your skin. topically, i like to add an extra layer of hydrating gel under my regular daytime moisturizer and bring a small bottle of rose water with me to regularly spritz my face during the trip. in the article, “why does food taste different on planes?”  by katia moskvitch, she notes that, ‘at about 30,000 feet, humidity is less than 12% – drier than most deserts.’ this can wreak havoc on your body and skin causing intense dehydration. add a cocktail in the mix and you’re guaranteed to wake up from your in-plane snooze with a headache. “the complete guide to surviving long-haul flights”, an article from the atlantic, recommends that you drink one liter of water for every 5 hours of air travel.

 

  • icing / if you haven’t heard it enough, we love icing 🙂 the benefits of inflammation control & prevention are invaluable. while traveling, our physical stress is at an all time high, so staying on top of icing is the best weapon for maintaining clear skin on the road. ideally, your airbnb will have a freezer so you can easily use your ice pop maker. in the case where you’re staying in a hotel without a freezer, we find it best to order a glass of ice from the hotel barand take it to-go, or get some ice from the ice machine and give the cubes a rinse before using. if the hotel has no bar or restaurant, the next best option is to pack sandwich bags and use ice from the ice machine. happy icing!

 

  • hand sanitizer and wipes / we all know the airplanes are a bacteria playground. to avoid getting sick, which tends to increase inflamed breakouts, it is good to bring hand sanitizer & pure alcohol wipes on the plane. use the wipes to clean the plane window, armrest, eating tray, etc.. we like the disinfecting wipes from “clean well”, or you can get a box of individual alcohol wipes in the first aid section of walgreens. i find these easy to keep in my wallet, and our esthetician kerry is convinced that this has been a game changer for her and her immune system while traveling. these wipes also come in handy to frequently wipe down the rims of my sunglasses and phone 🙂 be sure to avoid touching your face after using hand sanitizer, hand soap or lotion from the plane, both of which can be cloggy!

 

  • snacks/ airport and road trip food is often filled with dairy, soy and lots of salt. this article from BBC says that airplane food is heavily salted because lack of humidity and low pressure in the cabin decreases our ability to taste salt + sweet by 30%. not only can this heightened salt intake increase water retention making your body feel puffy, it can also irritate acne. forego the airport food and bring these snacks with you instead: justin’s single serving almond butter with apple chips (i’ve found these at most metropolitan airports lately), fresh fruit, a sandwich. keep leftover snacks from the trip with you in case you’re in a situation where you didn’t get much to eat at a meal that was dairy or soy heavy. foods that you pack tastes 1000% better than most airport food anyway!

 

 

  • prep your climate-sensitive skincare regimen/ it’s important to pack the right outfits according to your destination’s forecast 🙂 the same rule applies to your skin regimen! by simply changing up your cleanser and/or moisturizer, you can stay ahead of the climate. if you’re traveling to a hot + humid climate you may want to opt for a foaming cleanser (like the charcoal) and lighter moisturizer like hydrating gel instead of hydrating cream. also, lay off of harsh exfoliants like vitamin-a on days that you’re spending in the sun to reduce your chance of hyperpigmentation. if you’re traveling to a cold climate, opt for a heavier cleanser and moisturizer like our green tea cleanser and hydrating cream (you can even add a few drops of pure sunflower or safflower oil + mix it up in your palm for added moisture) to prevent dryness and cracking from cold temperatures and dry indoor heaters.

 
for both climates it’s good to have pure shea butter on hand. you can apply a thin layer of shea butter on your skin when spending the day in extreme cold, like when you’re skiing, and also in warm weather to protect your skin before dipping in the pool or the ocean.

 

  • neck pillows/ neck pillows are amazing, but they can also get extremely dirty and become problematic for your skin, similar to your pillow cases at home. it’s best to get one that has a washable cover to ensure it’s clean before each use, like this one 🙂 kim personally loves using this blow-up travel pillow, which packs light and small, adjusts to whatever fullness you’d like and can be very easily washed with soap and water.

 

  • linens/ it’s essential to bring your own washcloths and pillowcases with you so that you don’t have to use host’s or hotel’s that are washed in cloggy, fragranced laundry detergent and fabric softener. in addition, it can be embarrassing to bleach a host’s linens with benzoyl peroxide! bring one washcloth per day of travel. you can use the same one morning and night, but not into the next day. bring 1 pillowcase for every 3-5 days of travel. use one side of the pillowcase only to avoid the transfer of cloggy detergent or fabric softener from the sheets to your face or benzoyl peroxide residue from your face to their sheets.

 

  • REI co-op multitowel lite / if fussing with extra pillowcases is too much to deal with when on vacay, try buying one or two of these extra large travel quick dry towels from REI.  i love using them for travel as they dry quickly, can be a blanket for warmth or to sit on, and also as impromptu pillow cases…  i just fold it in half and lay it on top of the hotel pillows for a quick and easy acne-safe sleep! one of the best parts is, is that they go on sale during REI’s 2 annual sales, to about $15! (kim likes to use them to sit on the beach, and in rental cars or airbnb’s with questionable upholstery, etc). 

 

  • zyflamend/ zyflamend is an herbal supplement that lowers your body’s inflammation. This can be a great tool to prevent travel-induced breakouts. I find it helpful to take 2 before a flight and 1-2 per day on my trip as tolerated.

 

  • sleep/ sleep is extremely important for many reasons. when we are deprived of sleep, our inflammation increases and hormones can go out of balance, both of which can create a breakout. when traveling, our time zones often change and we tend to neglect sleep during this time when our bodies especially need it. when traveling, keep your sleep consistent. try to go to bed at the same time as you would if you were at home and be sure to get 8-9 hours of quality sleep each night. if your time zone is dramatically different, try to tune your body to the local sleep schedule right away.  for example, if you land at 1pm in switzerland, stay up until your normal bedtime back at home to quickly acclimate.  taking melatonin can help you fall asleep, and apparently a brisk run first thing in the morning (no matter how groggy you are) can help quickly get your body acclimated to local time.

 

  • birth control/ if you take a birth control pill, take it every 24 hours – NOT the same time in local time (ie, 9am in SF = 12noon in NYC would be the right time to take your pill). when traveling to different time zones, your pill schedule can easily get messed up. even taking it 1 hour off can cause a fluctuation in your hormones, which can affect your skin.  

sS tips for a better commute

as we learned from steve martin and john candy in planes, trains and automobiles, commuting can be a major pain in the tuchus. with the growing number of cars on city streets (thanks, uber!) and with omnipresent train and bus malfunctions, commuting can at times seem like your worst nightmare. you are either stuck in your car and moving an inch a minute or you’re pressed up against ten other sweaty commuters in a train car whose windows are glued shut. not to mention the never-ending mass of bicycle commuters down market street at rush hour, their skin soaking up the grit and grime of the city. HOWEVER, commuting doesn’t have to be that bad! at skinSALVATION we like to think of our commuting hours as a time to refresh and reconnect with ourselves before or after a long day. so let’s dive into some commuting real-talk!

by car
if you are one of the ninety percent of americans who drive to work,1 you’ve got plenty of great opportunities to practice stress management techniques while stimulating your mind. having moved to the bay area from new york, i know all about head-splitting traffic jams and our high-strung responses to them. we can so easily lose sight of the bigger picture when faced with major road blocks to our work day. keeping things in perspective is essential for a calm commute. if you are the type of person who stresses easily in high traffic situations, take a minute to remember that you are doing everything you can to get where you need to be and that the traffic jam is completely out of your control. once you acknowledge this, you can focus your energy on an uplifting podcast or on the melodies of your favorite musical artist. you can even take the time to reconnect with relatives or friends by calling them on speaker phone. we like to keep a bottle of rosewater toner in the glove compartment for spritzing and enlivening the automobile atmosphere on hot mornings. your commute will move much more swiftly once you accept that you can’t control the vast majority of it, so sit back and enjoy the drive!

by bus or train
one of the main concerns our clients have about commuting via bus, bart or muni train is the spread of germs across the many surfaces we come in contact with. we like to carry a few toner pads and a 2oz bottle of sS sterilizing toner, using it as a hand sanitizer in a pinch. this is a great way to combat the spread of comedogenic germs and bacteria. you never know if the person who held onto the bus railing before you used coconut oil to moisturize, leaving a comedogenic oil slick in their wake. we always recommend keeping your hands away from your face, but this is especially important when riding public transportation. we know it may be tempting to rest your head against the window to catch a few extra z’s in the morning but beware of the residue that may have been left by your fellow narcoleptic commuters. the last thing you want on your forehead is a breakout from someone’s cloggy hair products!

once you’ve gotten into the groove of popping out the sterilizing toner when needed, it’s time to relax and enjoy your commute. riding the bus or the train is the perfect time to queue up your favorite podcast, zone into a meditation app or to catch up on a good book or magazine. sometimes we like to use commute time to take care of small tasks like catching up on emails, paying bills online or spending a few minutes with social media. the possibilities for fun and productivity are endless!

by bicycle
biking to work can be stressful as you dodge flinging car doors, swerving automobiles, potholes from crumbling infrastructure and unruly pedestrians. despite these potential setbacks, biking to work can also be one of the best ways to relieve the stress of the workday. you can pedal your worries away as your body releases endorphins in response to the physical activity. biking to and from work is also a great way to get your daily movement in, especially if you have a desk job that involves sitting still for most of the day. you can soak up some sun while toning those quads and taking in the scenery.

but what about the dust, dirt and sweat that sink deeper into your pores with every city bike ride? how can you care for your skin when you arrive at work with sweat pouring from your brow? similar to carrying a travel-size bag of skin and hair products to the gym, we advise keeping the products from your sS regimen in a small container at the office, too. if you anticipate having a grueling commute under the hot sun, skip the morning makeup routine and leave a bit earlier. when you arrive at the office, wash your face or splash it with water and follow that up with the sS sterilizing toner and some moisture. then go to town painting your face. you’ll feel like a million bucks all day, safe in the knowledge that the sweat has been eradicated. if you don’t wear makeup, simply splash your face with some water and give it a swipe with our sterilizing toner when you get to work. this will prevent bacteria from forming from any lingering sweat.

if you live in drier and/or colder climates, be sure to apply extra moisture as part of your morning skin regimen and after your commute if you need it. skinSALVATION hydrating gel is always a nice light option to apply throughout the day if your skin is craving a quench. and don’t forget the sunscreen!

whether you bike, bus or bart to work each day, you have the power to transform your commute into a positive and acne-safe experience. we are just here to help you along the way! talk to your esthetician about how to keep your skincare regimen on track during your commute all week long.

footnotes

  1. dews, f. (2013) ninety percent of americans drive to work. brookings institute. 28 october, 2013.