Q&A: Breakouts after using masks?

A few reasons why you might be breaking out after using a facial mask

question for battyHey Batty,

So, it is with sadness that I’ve come to the conclusion that both the dry clay facial mask and dead sea mud mask make me break out. I have been so frustrated with my face because even though I can tell your products are wonderful and SHOULD work, I was still getting regular acne. But, something told me it was the dry clay mask, so I stopped using it for about three weeks. In those three weeks, I got ONE small zit on my chin that I took care of in a day, whereas when I was using the mask around 2 or 3 times a week I would have at least 3 zits per week. To test my theory further, I used the dead sea mud mask a couple days ago and exfoliated twice after using it, just to make sure it wasn’t that. Sure enough, when I woke up the next morning I had a giant, nasty, red zit on the side of my face.

I’m not sure what the problem is, because when I use the mask, I exfoliate after with the tea tree nut scrub, and then since I was noticing it wasn’t enough, I would also use one of those exfoliating cloths. I love the idea of having a little extra cleansing at least once a week, but now I don’t know what to do. I’ve taken to using the masks as spot treatment, but that doesn’t seem to be going that well, either.

batty's answerHey There,

Thanks for your question!

I’m sorry to hear about your conclusion / breakouts. And thanks for letting me know that you’re following through with the exfoliation after using the masks – that’s the step that usually gets missed when a breakout happens – so letting me know that helps us rule that out right away.

As a side note, I want to say that it sounds like you are doing a lot of things that your skin is agreeing with because the very worst you mentioned was 3 zits a week… some people would LOVE to be in your skin- LOL.  However, I know how frustrating even a few blemishes can be! So I totally get why you want to get to the bottom of this.

Activate Charcoal Soap - Green Beauty Acne Skincare
Since everyone is unique it could be possible that just the clays themselves (as in that grouping of ingredients) is causing the breakouts, simply because of the way your skin is reacting to them (i.e. some people find that their skin reacts to certain groups of ingredients .. and by “reacts”, I’m mostly referring to an inflammatory response). This reaction on its own could spark a pimple to pop up, but before we default to clays being a no-no for your skin, I want to discuss another possible explanation.

What I suspect is happening (by what you’ve told me and I could be wrong because I’d need more info to be sure), is that the minor breakouts you’re experiencing when you use the masks are what is commonly referred to as “detox” breakouts. In a nutshell, the basic concept behind detox breakouts (whether we’re talking about internally prompted detox via diet and/or supplements, or an externally prompted detox via skin care products), is a cycle that looks like this…

  • detox action is taken
  • skin purges toxins / impurities (I’ll refer to them as toxins from here on, but they can simply be impurities or irritants) 
  • if inflammation occurs, a breakout usually follows
  • breakout subsides as toxin purge ends
  • “honeymoon period” – few to no breakouts
  • detox action is taken again
  • skin purges toxins again – this time deeper “pockets” of toxins (re: if the body wasn’t introduced to another moderate to heavy load of toxins during the honeymoon period)
  • inflammation occurs again, sparking another breakout 
  • breakout subsides as toxin purge ends
  • another honeymoon period.
  • (repeat)

Now, the thing about this cycle is that (generally) the more often it’s done, the less severe the breakouts are each time (over time fewer toxins need to be purged if following a healthy lifestyle and the person is focused on detoxifying internally and externally). Eventually, the detox becomes about just clearing any recent toxins and not about clearing out the body of an accumulation of toxins that have built up over time. When the person has reached that stage in the cycle, breakouts are a lot less likely to occur, and if they do, it might only be a small blemish or two that clears up quickly.

I’m not sure if that’s what’s happening here, but it’s possible. Like I mentioned, I’d need more information.

However, if you’re finding that your skin is clear – and staying clear – without using the masks (who’s primary* purpose is to detox), then you may just want to skip them in your routine.

*primary = detox. Secondary purpose (which are often just as sought out) depends on the mask. For example, you mentioned the dry clay mask; The secondary purpose of that mask (generally) is redness reduction / fading hyper-pigmentation. The secondary purpose of the dead sea mud mask is to give the skin a dose of helpful nutrients.

There are other ways to detox your skin (if that’s your goal for using the masks), like using the charcoal soap, or testing out a gel mask that includes charcoal (like our Charcoal & Lemon Detox Mask), or focusing on detoxing your body internally (skin supporting teas can help with that).

Activated Charcoal Mask - Natural Green Beauty - Handmade in Canada

If your goal for using the masks is reducing hyper-pigmentation (acne scars, redness, etc), then there are other ways to do that too (I talk about this a bit in my acne scars video), that I can help you with.

You mentioned that you like the extra cleansing once a week from the masks. A few suggestions I have to get an extra deep cleansing in, without using the masks, is to use either the charcoal soap or the pineapple facial scrub. I mentioned the detoxing powers of the charcoal soap above, but it also helps reduce hyper-pigmentation. As for the pineapple scrub, it has a whole host of great benefits too – reducing hyper-pigmentation is one of them – another is that it exfoliates on two different levels (one of which clears out dead skin cells and other debris inside our pores – not just the debris on the surface of the skin). I talk about this more on the product page for the pineapple facial scrub. Have a look if you’re interested.

Acne Spot Treatment with Natural Essential Oils
As far as using the masks for spot treatments- The best way to use them for that purpose is to first apply the quick stick, then dab a little bit of clay over top (the clay will bond to the quick stick application). Although, the quick stick doesn’t need the masks to boost its spot treatment “powers” and could actually interfere with it’s ability to work if the clay absorbs all the quick stick and pulls it away from the skin. The quick stick + clay combo works really well for some people. Others find the quick stick on its own works much better.

Phew – this is turning into a novel so I’ll wrap it up here.

I hope I was able to help! Please let me know if there’s anything else I can help with.lovebatty purple

P.s. To anyone else reading this…. If you’re experiencing breakouts after using a facial mask the first thing to do is check that there are no pore-clogging ingredients included in the formula. This also includes checking for ingredients that can cause irritation (as irritation leads to inflammation which results in there being less room in our pores for debris to exit from). Since there’s a lot of ingredients in cosmetics that can cause this reaction, a good place to start is to compare the ingredient list on the mask you’ve been using with the information in this handy flowchart.



Regain Control with a Skin Reset

Get off the rollercoaster of having to hunt down a new product every time your skin becomes unruly! Enter your email address and we'll show you how.

Powered by ConvertKit

It all started as one college student’s skin care experiment.
Five years later, it’s a wild-crafted beauty revolution.
Find out about the origins of Batty’s Bath, the secret laboratory, and our commitment to inspiring self-esteem, confidence & kindness, for all…..