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Review: Finally, a maskne treatment by a doctor that actually works

This might sound like an odd flex but prior to COVID-19, I’ve never had problems with my complexion.

Not when I was in National Service digging trenches and not even when I travelled to strange climes with fluctuating weather conditions. I put it down to genetics, as, while the folks around me battled with all matter of complexion issues, I breezed through it. My skincare routine was simple: cleanse, moisturise and mask once a week.

That was until COVID-19 happened and I started to get maskne — or gross pimply break outs thanks to continuously wearing masks. It started on my right cheek, before it spread to my forehead where I still have dark spots till today.

I turned to my beauty editor for advice and what followed was a massive arsenal of products from serums to chemical exfoliants. While most of these worked to some degree, it was only when I sought actual professional help that it noticeably improved.

Enter Healthsprings Laser and Aesthetic clinic, which has come up with a treatment that could zap your maskne woes. But first, what actually causes this wretched condition?

“When the mask covers the face, there is build up of heat, sweat and bacteria on the skin,” said Dr Soh Lea Sar, the clinic group’s founder and medical founder. “There is also trapped sebum in the skin pores. In addition, there is friction caused by mask movement against the skin, causing the skin to become dry and irritated.”

That explains everything — I have to wear a mask at the gym. It’s uncomfortable and traps sweat even while I recognise that it’s necessary.

The solution is an hour’s treatment that starts with a deep detox cleansing, a medical grade exfoliation and multi-wave light therapy that targets acne, pigmentation and redness. The entire process finishes off with a multivitamin mask.

Curious, I made a trip one afternoon to the clinic at the 11th floor of Liat Towers. While the setting is clinical, it’s relaxing enough to close your eyes and pretend you’re at a spa.

The treatment itself is extremely comprehensive. For starters, the deep detox cleansing is but child’s play compared to the rest of the treatment. The medical grade exfoliation tingles far more than would a home chemical exfoliation and the multi-wave light therapy is done via a massive machine that looks almost like a CT scanner.

Once treatment is done, Dr Soh prescribed two courses of antibiotics along with a cleanser, toner, moisturiser, an acid-based serum and an acne gel should break outs continue to occur.

“Antibiotics will eliminate the bacteria causing the acne on the skin. It is useful for moderate to severe recurrent acne where there is high bacteria load on the skin,” said Dr Soh. “With the bacteria gone, there will be less inflammation and the skin can heal.”

True enough, after a week of being on antibiotics, the zits, which this time were appearing just above my left eyebrow, began to calm down. The break outs stopped.

I stuck fastidiously to the routine that Dr Soh prescribed, particularly the Glow Serum. This little bottle is formulated with ginger root extract, calendula flower extract and lactic acid — a lethal combo that lightens acne scars, blemishes and pigmentation.

The dark spots left behind by my maskne took much longer to lighten and I was advised that it could take as much as two months to clear. At the very least, the break outs have stopped.

Finally, after months of trying out every product I had, this is a treatment that works. I’m some weeks away from the clear complexion I used to have but a month after treatment, it seems to be well within reach.

Healthsprings Laser and Aesthetic Clinic (Orchard) is at 541 Orchard Rd, #11-01 Liat Towers, Singapore 238881, +65 6836 8386.