I live in San Francisco, which is an extremely temperate climate. We also have some of the most consistent water in the country because it comes from pristine mountain snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountains. This makes my personal acne treatment regimen predictable and even. However, when I travel, I tend to notice changes in my skin.

For instance, I just went to Pennsylvania to visit my mom and dad last week. Weather is far more extreme on the East Coast than it is here in San Francisco. It was cold one day and warm and humid on another day. Also, the water there tends to be different from what my skin is used to here on the West Coast. Weather and water changes, combined with the dry plane cabin on the flight to Pennsylvania, made my skin a bit dryer than usual, and I had to compensate with more moisturizer for the first few days I spent back East.

Your skin may react differently depending on the climate into which you travel and the water with which you wash at that location. Plane cabins may exacerbate dryness as well. All of this should not prove to be a big problem because judicious application of the Regimen should keep you clear. Simply adjust the amount of moisturizer you use if your skin becomes dryer than it is at home. If your skin becomes oilier than usual, simply stay consistent with the amount of moisturizer you use, and wait it out for a few days. Your skin should get back to normal quickly. Do not stop using moisturizer. The shock to your skin caused by removing the moisturizer step of the Regimen may cause a breakout. If for whatever reason an unexpected breakout starts to rear its head, stay calm. The best remedy is to get super strict with your Regimen application and you should be back to normal in no time.

Hey you guys. I’m writing up a new irritation page. It should be interactive and fun. I need your input tho if you have experience in these areas:

Chinstraps: For those of you who wear helmets with chinstraps, is there anything you have found that you can do to reduce the irritation? For example…put a tissue between the strap and your skin, or something like that? I obviously can’t ask people to not use helmets, so I’m hoping to provide advice on how to limit chin strap irritation.

Hair products: Lots of gels/mousses/hairsprays tend to irritate the skin. I do not use hair product, and don’t have a lot of experience in this area. I’m looking into it further, but in the meantime, do you guys know of any hair products that are specifically aimed at acne-prone people? Alternately, do you have ideas on how people can use alternative and safe products so they can still make awesome styles while staying confident that the products won’t irritate?


Brief history: In 1985, the FDA originally classified benzoyl peroxide as Category I, or GRASE (Generally Recognized As Safe and Effective). Then in 1991, they reclassified benzoyl peroxide as Category III, which means “more data needed,” based on safety concerns that arose at that time. However, as of last month, the FDA decided to return benzoyl peroxide to its original Category I generally recognized as safe and effective classification because, “After reviewing the data, we now conclude that benzoyl peroxide can be adequately labeled to minimize the risks associated with benzoyl peroxide while delivering effective acne treatment.”

The official Final Rule states: “We, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are issuing this final rule to include benzoyl peroxide as a generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE) active ingredient in over-the-counter (OTC) topical acne drug products.”

Summary: In short, some questions arose around benzoyl peroxide’s safety in the early 90s with animal (mice) studies. These studies were inadequate to draw any conclusions, so the FDA decided they needed more data. In the meantime, they reclassified benzoyl peroxide as Category III so until they could see more data. Several studies on benzoyl peroxide’s tumor promotion potential, mutogenicity (can it cause genetic mutations?), carcinogenicity (does it cause cancer?), and photocarcinogenicity (does it cause cancer when exposed to the sun?) were since performed. The data was in. After reviewing the findings from these studies, the FDA decided that benzoyl peroxide should again be considered GRASE (Generally Recognized As Safe and Effective).

Sunburn: Interestingly, they also found that benzoyl peroxide can decrease the skin’s tolerance to UV radiation (i.e., increase sunburn) after repeated applications, and so they are now also requiring an added warning on benzoyl peroxide labels which states, “If going outside, apply sunscreen after using this product.” Manufacturers have a year to add this warning. I will add this to our labels at our next printing.

The Federal Register reclassification of benzoyl peroxide, where the above information is taken, is actually an interesting read. I am particularly struck by both how thorough the FDA research process seems to be, and how concerned the FDA is to the health and financial concerns of both big and small business. Feel free to check it out and add your comments.

We originally heard that Olay was switching back to zinc oxide (from avobenzone) for their Olay Complete for Sensitive Skin product with SPF15 as of April, 2010. However, I’ve been looking on shelves and haven’t seen it yet, so I just gave them a call to see where the heck it is. I spoke to a very nice woman named Brandy over at Olay and she read from the official statement she had there in front of her. It said that they are actually going to be switching back to the original formula as of May, 2010. I asked if that meant the product would be available on store shelves in May and she said “yes”. So, hopefully we’ll be able to get our hands on some of the original zinc oxide based stuff in May. It will have a slight name change she said. It will now be called:

Olay Complete Classic Gentle Formula

Kinda reminds me of Classic Coke 🙂 Don’t change a good thing.

Bear in mind that while I think the Olay Complete Classic Gentle Formula should be good enough when combined with a few drops of jojoba oil, it is not ideal. So, I am still at it…working away at a good SPF for us. I’m testing lots of combinations of safe and effective ingredients to see if we can get one that doesn’t clog pores while at the same time eliminating flakiness and providing broad spectrum protection–an extremely tall order, and perhaps impossible, but I won’t stop trying.

We all know that irritation can aggravate acne. This is most assuredly not a myth. It’s a widely accepted, and quite frankly, obvious truth to many of us who pay close attention to it. For instance, pretty much every time I get sick or have bad allergies, I will break out around my nose because I blow my nose so much, thus irritating the skin around that area. Also, pretty much every time I wear a tight hat for more than a day I will get little breakouts around my hair line where the hat squeezes into my skin.

We can’t avoid irritation altogether, but simply becoming aware of it helps empower us to keep as clear as we can. The list I currently have on Acne.org regarding irritation includes:

– picking
– tight hats
– resting your face in your hands
– helmets and chin straps
– cell phones
– napkins

I think we can come up with a more filled out list however. Here are the ones I’m going to add. Please reply with your suggestions as well.

– frequent nose blowing
– trying on clothes (the collars can rub against your face as you put them on and take them off)

What else?

Right now, the Acne.org product bottles are nice and clean with lots of white space. Aesthetically speaking I think they’re beautiful. But yesterday, Kent had a brainstorm which I think is genius. Ever come across an idea that is so simple it makes you wonder why you haven’t always been doing it? Well, I was complaining to him that it’s hard for me to get people to follow the Regimen precisely sometimes. His response:

Why not print the long form of the regimen instructions right on the bottles?

That way the detailed Regimen is always with you, always in the bathroom, and always there if you need a refresher. People who only take a cursory glance at the Regimen on Acne.org before buying products will have better instructions as well. Heck, we could even give products to friends or family members and they could start the Regimen right away without having to visit Acne.org.

Is this a “duh!” idea or what!? Like, “duh, why haven’t we been doing this?”

The only potential downside is that some or much of the white space on the bottles might be filled in with instructions. However, I think we can design it so that the products not only remain beautiful, but achieve added interest. I’m working on mocking it up.

Also, while I’m at it, I am going to remove the big “ACNE.ORG” from the bottles. A bunch of you guys have asked that we do that, and this could be an opportunity to change that.

Unless you guys have strong feelings against this, I think it could be a really beneficial thing for a lot of people. Let me know what you think.

I’ve been soaking in some rays in my back yard for the last couple of weeks. I wear a hat so I don’t expose my face and neck too much, but my body is exposed.

At any rate, bear with me, this might get a little yucky, but I’ve been lazy and not covering the outdoor wood chair I sit in with a towel. It’s been pretty warm too so I tend to sweat. The combo of the hard surface directly against the moist skin on my back caused some irritation and I found myself beginning to break out a bit on my back. The breakout may have been partially due to the sun exposure as well.

I decided to go on 100% attack! Last night I loaded on BP (2 pumps on each side of my back), waited 15 minutes for it to dry, and generously applied AHA.

Literally overnight my emerging breakout subsided to almost nothing. It just reminded me how powerful the severe back acne regimen really is. It also reminded me how important it is to be generous with product application.

Just thought I’d share. I had only a small emerging breakout – perhaps 3 or 4 small zits and some very small comedones. People who have more severe acne should not expect complete overnight clearing. However, even severe back acne should respond quickly and dramatically.

Because the skin on the back is so thick and tough, feel free to go full strength from day one should you decide to try it out.

I love instant gratification 🙂

It’s raining today, so I guess no sun today…