We all know that irritation can aggravate acne. I talk about it all the time. However, throughout the years I’ve also read in multiple acne related books, and heard in multiple acne related classes which I’ve attended, that irritation plus sweat is even worse. I’ve found this to be very true in my own experience as well.

Let’s use me as an example for a sec. I often get tired at work or when sitting at a table somewhere and put my head down, resting my chin on the back of my hands. I rarely have any issues with that. But recently, I have been getting sun on my body and when I turn over to get some sun on my back, I end up resting my chin on the back of my hands. The difference is that outside in the sun there’s sweat in the mix. I got a “mysterious” breakout under my chin area recently and it perplexed me until I put this together. It was the sweat plus irritation combination that most likely caused the breakout.

Another good example of sweat mixing with irritation is chin straps. Not only do chin straps rub against the skin, they often cause sweatiness. Also, chin straps are worn during physical activity, which includes sweat. This is why for many people, it is especially important to treat that area during sports season. Helmets are another example. Backpack straps rubbing against the upper back in hot, humid weather is another. You get the idea…

I am not telling you this to make you paranoid. We all get sweaty, especially in the warm months, and there is no way to completely avoid irritation. I mention it just so you can become aware of what’s going on and try to mediate it if and when you can. If you end up experiencing sweat mixed with irritation in some area of your skin which tends to be acne prone, be extra careful to apply benzoyl peroxide judiciously in that area.

Hey you guys. You’ve asked and I’m listening. We’ve designed new labels and taken ACNE.ORG off the front of the label. It only whispers about the web site on the back of the label. We have also added longer, more specific directions to the labels so that “The Regimen is on the labels.” This is the “duh” idea that you guys told me you supported not too long ago. The new labels are much more medical looking, and that’s on purpose. Acne.org products are the very highest quality out there. I want the labels to reflect this.

The products themselves won’t change, just the labels. The one exception is our moisturizer, which if you’ve been reading the blog you know is changing to a new, improved version. Here is our moisturizer label, which will most likely roll out first.

I’m always on the lookout for ways to combat stress. Stress can wreak havoc with hormone levels and, especially in women, can aggravate breakouts. This is because stress activates the adrenal gland. The adrenal gland is where we produce adrenaline, which the body pumps out in response to stress. Well, it just so happens that women make much of their testosterone in the adrenal gland as well. So, that means stress can alter testosterone levels in women more radically and inconsistently than in men. Voila…breakouts. Even though the stress/acne issue may be a larger issue for women than for men, I heavily suspect it is also of real concern for men.

So on comes Oprah talking about how she’s done with endless dieting and declares that her war with food is over. My interest was piqued, partly because I have so many women in my life with food issues (don’t we all…), and partly because I had a sneaking suspicion that the food/stress psychology that Oprah says was liberating her might be of interest to all of us, regardless of our stressors.

So I bought the book she was speaking about, Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth, and read it. At first I read it just keeping in mind women whom I care about who have food issues, and it rang true. Then I read it again, trying to imagine that Ms. Roth was speaking about stress in general. It made good sense again.

In a nutshell: Stress, and its subsequent outgrowths of overeating, overworking, overthinking, overdrinking, drug use, etc. is precipitated by “leaving ourselves” many times a day. She means this quite literally. We become so afraid that our emotions in our bodies will “kill us” that we escape into our chosen method of flight from what is happening inside our bodies. The remedy is to stay with whatever we’re feeling in our body, bringing curiosity to it, and giving it the time to expand and unwind. Feelings, Ms. Roth contends, simply want the attention and room to dissolve on their own. She urges the reader to practice living a new, embodied life in the moment through eating guidelines, and a process she calls “Inquiry”.

If you guys read this, let me know if it affects your stress levels. Thanks!

I think we may have nailed the spot treatment. It’s got:

12% AHA at a 3.5pH, so it’s extremely powerful and stings to high heaven. You’ll need to use only a very tiny amount each time.

2% Salicylic Acid, to bump up acne fighting properties. Even though we all know sal acid isn’t good enough on its own, I thought it would make sense to put the legal limit of it in here just to cover all of our bases.

10% Willow Bark, which is a way of getting more natural aspirin/sal acid into the product, and hopefully helping out a bit with analgesic (pain killing) properties, even though, to be honest, this product isn’t the great topical pain reliever I wanted it to be. To get that effect, I’ve found you need to go with lidocaine or benzocaine, and they don’t work in an acidic base. I tried topical ibuprofen, ketoprofen, aspirin, and other similar topical pain killers and it turns out they just aren’t great for epidermis (surface) pain killing. Supposedly they work deep down on joint pain, but quite frankly I didn’t find that to be the case either.

0.1% Licochalcone, ‘cuz we all know it and love it.

Ayurvedics, like Neem, Boswellia, and Turmeric because even though all the bases were already covered, might as well double cover all the bases :)

I’ll be sending samples out to the moderators to get their response and if they OK it, we’ll make it a Go and get it out to you guys to see what everybody thinks. I’m not sure about price yet, or size for that matter. You need to use only a minuscule amount of it each time you use it, so it will be small. I’m making these decisions as we move forward. It is considered an over-the-counter acne treatment, so it must enter into FDA required stability testing before it goes for sale. This process takes months, but at least hopefully we can get the ball rolling…

Let’s talk fundamentals for a moment, shall we? I spend a lot of time on the blog here talking about obscure acne related topics, but kinda like in basketball…sometimes you gotta just shoot free throws for hours, getting down the fundamentals, and it’s time well spent.

In acne treatment, I’d say there are two major fundamentals.

1. Using a generous amount of 2.5% benzoyl peroxide. This is what I want the world to know. Give me 10 seconds on Oprah, Good Morning America, and The View (lol), and I’ll say, “The secret is to use a ton of 2.5% benzoyl peroxide. It just plain works. When in doubt, use more.” It’s so simple. It’s really a very basic fundamental. If you load on 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, acne hardly stands a chance. It’s just too powerful. And if for whatever reason it doesn’t seem to be working, load on some more. Being super duper generous with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide does the trick almost every single time.

2. Reducing irritation. Really, regardless of what medication you’re using on your face, if you have inflammatory acne, the kind that gets red which most people struggle with, you’ll want to do everything in your power to reduce irritation. Inflammatory acne-prone skin is sensitive to irritation. Reducing that irritation goes a long way to keeping you clear. That’s why 2.5% benzoyl peroxide is important. It does the job without the excess irritation of a 5% or a 10% formula. Also, staying super gentle in application of your acne treatment is a huge fundamental. If I had another 10 seconds on Ellen, The Today Show, and Regis & Kelly (lol), I’d say, “Stay very gentle in application, being certain to moisturize afterward as well.” Staying exceedingly gentle, and I mean Exceedingly with a capital E, is the best way to go, and is crucial in reducing irrtitation. Moisturizing after benzoyl peroxide, or any other drying medication, will also keep the skin from becoming overly irritated, which will help end the irritation-acne cycle. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention avoiding picking at the skin as well. Picking is a huge culprit not only in irritation, but also in acne scarring. Keep your skin untouched as much as you can.

OK, I’m gonna go play a game of H.O.R.S.E. now :)

For years I’ve been hoping to find a natural way to cure acne from the root. While some things help (zinc for instance), I’m starting to think there may be no silver bullet. Instead, I wonder if a cocktail approach might prove more effective. Here’s my gut read on what a natural cocktail, if indeed there were one, might consist of:

Sun: Yes, this might be controversial, but I think we might not be getting enough sun. We make vitamin D through our skin, and as homo sapiens we are literally made to be in the sun. The darker the skin, the more we need it. I tend to think that limited exposure on a regular basis may be beneficial for a wide variety of conditions. My gut also tells me that responsible sun exposure is going to be more beneficial than vitamin D supplementation. I personally try to get some sun each day around lunch time–15 minutes front, 15 minutes back–and I feel generally healthier because of it. I keep my face covered, but if I weren’t so vain about wrinkles, I might expose my face as well and see how that affects acne. I am certain from personal experience that over-exposure will bite back with acne because a sun burn is skin damage, but light exposure on a daily basis intrigues me.

Oxygen: Each and every one of our cells need oxygen to live, and as land dwelling animals we obviously need oxygen to survive. I am looking into how oxygen specifically affects the causes of acne. I have a sneaking suspicion that oxygen, or the lack thereof, may play a part in acne formation. Could deep breathing or oxygen therapy help? We’ll see.

Greens/Food: Eating a natural diet makes sense. Emerging research hints toward a potential diet and acne link, but we simply do not have enough research to draw any conclusions. Common sense tells us that eating fruits, veggies, and perhaps real, organic meat in low quantities is the way to go.

Touch/Tribal Community: Stress and acne are related. Also, our hormone levels are intricately connected with acne formation. Touch and love mediate our stress levels and help keep our stress hormones in check. My gut tells me that if modern society valued touched more, we might see less acne. Also, we are tribal animals and are much happier when we are a valued part of a group. While modern society seems to have strayed from this way of living since the Industrial Revolution, perhaps there are still ways of getting that supportive feeling in our lives (choir, clubs, groups, practicing unconditional love).

Exercise: Our blood is what brings nutrients to all of our cells. Exercise gets the blood flowing and improves nutrient delivery. Exercise also is a giant part of keeping stress in check. It just makes common sense that we need to get the blood going on a regular basis.

Supplementation: We may be quite simply too far from our hunter/gatherer roots to get an appropriate amount of sun, non-contaminated food, and the sense of belonging that comes from living in close knit tribes. So, we may need to supplement with appropriate vitamins (Vitamin D and fish oil for example), and make a point to fit good food, touch, and community into our lives in convenient, modern ways.

So what do you guys think? Check in with your gut. Do you think if all of the above were dialed in, you’d have less of a battle with acne?