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Fungal acne safe K-beauty routine

6 Sep 2023
by M. Toledo

The medical term for fungal acne is pityrosporum follicullitis. At first glance, fungal acne looks quite similar to the pimples caused by normal acne. But the cause of fungal acne is completely different, which means that the way to treat it is different as well. Fungal acne is the result of an overgrowth of yeast, and is technically not even acne. It's when the hair follicles in your skin react to the yeast badly and become inflamed, causing little, hard bumps to occur. These bumps resemble pimples. Fungal acne is often seen on the skin of the back, chest and upper arms, but you can have fungal acne on your face too.

What is fungal acne?

Fungal acne presents itself as small bumps of similar size, unlike regular acne, in which the lesions or pimples can vary in size. Another key characteristic of fungal acne is the presence of itch. Normal acne usually doesn't itch very badly, it's more common for normal acne to be painful. Fungal acne can have a white tip, but even then you can't really pop or squeeze them like a regular pimple that's caused by a pore that is clogged with sebum and skin cells and then becomes inflamed. Like mentioned above, fungal acne has a different cause and needs a different approach. 

Treating fungal acne

Because fungal acne is caused by an adverse reaction to yeast, treating fungal acne requires addressing the factors that cause this yeast to grow. A big part of this is by avoiding ingredients that the yeast 'feeds' on. This may sound weird, but it really works! Certain skin care ingredients trigger fungal acne because they 'feed' the yeast that's responsible for fungal acne, the Malassezia. If you use these ingredients, the problem will persist. Yeast also loves moisture and heat, so keep this in mind when you're going for a work-out. Take a shower after your work-out, and switch clothes. Choose light, natural fabrics that let your skin breathe. 

What are the ingredients that cause fungal acne?

  • Oils and fatty acids

Malassezia, the fungal acne causing yeast, loves munching on oil. Feed it oil and it will grow. If you're prone to fungal acne, it's best to choose oil-free moisturizers, like gel-type products.

  • Fatty acid-esters

Fatty acid-esters are compounds in skincare that are a combination between an alcohol and a fatty acid. They are used to make skincare have a nice texture and they have emollient properties. Unfortunately, they are a trigger for fungal acne. You can spot esters in an ingredient list easily; they end with the suffix '-ate'. Common examples include Glyceril Stereate, Isopropyl Myristate and Isopropyl Palmitate. Esters made from caprylic acid are safe to use when you have fungal acne, recognizable as Caprylates.

  • Kokosolie

For some people, coconut oil works like a miracle cure. If you have fungal acne, this is not the case. Almost half of coconut oil consists of Lauric Acid, a fatty acid that fungal acne loves to feast on. So, don't let coconut oil near your face if you have fungal acne.

  • Gefermenteerde ingrediënten

Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate is a widely used ingredient in K-beauty. Not surprisingly, as it is rich in vitamins, amino acids and minerals and acts as a strong antioxidant on the skin. But if you are prone to fungal acne leave the ingredient out of your routine, because Galactomyces is a type of fungus that promotes the growth of fungal acne.

Fungal acne safe skin care routine

Do you find it difficult? Totally understandable! To get you started, we have put together an entire routine with only products that are 100% fungal acne safe. They do not contain any of the above ingredients that aggravate the formation of fungal acne or yeast pimples. So if you are at a loss for words, you can always return to this routine.

1. Cleanser

PURITO Defense Barrier pH Cleanser is a cleanser that maintains optimal skin pH and gently but effectively rids the skin of dirt. The iUNIK Centella Bubble Cleansing Foam is also a good choice for fungal acne. This cleanser is very gentle on the skin but cleanses it thoroughly. Because oils can trigger fungal acne, it's better not to use an oil cleanser.

2. Toner

Etude House Soon Jung pH 5.5 Relief Toner is a soothing toner that calms redness and cools skin with madecassoside and green tea extract. If you prefer a mildly exfoliating toner, the COSRX AHA BHA Vitamin C Toner is another good fungal acne safe option.

3. Essence

The COSRX Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence is a Korean skincare bestseller among people with all kinds of skin types because it hydrates tremendously well and has a healing, soothing effect. You'll be happy to hear that it is fungal acne safe! In other words, you won't get yeast pimples from it. The Mixsoon Soondy Centella Asiatica Essence is also a little wonder for your skin, especially if you suffer from a lot of irritation and inflammation. The essence relieves irritated skin from external stimuli while strengthening the skin barrier.

4. Serum

Beauty of Joseon Green Tea Calming Serum is a calming serum enriched with naturally derived soothing and moisturizing ingredients. Green tea and panthenol soften the skin and work against redness. The iUNIK Beta-Glucan Power Moisture Serum is a minimalist serum with only natural ingredients; 100% pure Beta-Glucan to deeply hydrate the skin and strengthen the moisture barrier. They both fit perfectly into a Korean skincare routine aimed at treating yeast pimples.

5. Moisturizer

Embryolisse Hydra-Cream Light is packed with essential, effective moisturizing ingredients that support your skin's optimal moisture balance. The Centella Calming Gel Cream is a refreshing gel cream that brings your skin back to life. It is formulated with a variety of proven effective botanical extracts such as 70% Centella Asiatica leaf water, 10% Tea Tree leaf water and six different sprout extracts.

6. Mask

I'm From Mugwort Mask is safe to use if you have yeast pimples. It is a fungal acne safe wash off mask with with ground up mugwort extract grown on Gangwha Island. The highly concentrated gel formula allows the active plant extracts in this mask to do their maximum work. It is one of the most popular Korean skincare wash-off masks in recent years! If you are not so fond of wash-off masks, then the Bonajour Bio Active Ampoule Mask is also a top choice that is fungal acne safe.

7. SPF 

If you want to treat yeast pimples, finding an appropriate sunscreen can be tricky. The Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Airy Sun Stick SPF50+ PA++++
and the Missha All Around Safe Block Aqua Sun Gel SPF50+/PA+++ are two examples of formulas that provide both good UV protection and fungal acne safe. The best of both worlds!

Are you looking for a mask for acne? Our blog Masks for acne-prone skin: The best ingredients for fighting acne tells you all about the best masks for acne. Are you having trouble with hormonal acne? Read our blog: Wonderful ingredients against hormonal acne. Lastly for all our products against acne, look at our product collection acne.

Do you still have questions about fungal acne? Or other pressing skin care questions you'd like help with? Don't hesitate to reach out to our customer service team! We're happy to help. :)


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