The ultimate goal for the future of humanity, as we all know, is to become sustainable. The cosmetics industry is no exception. I’m happy to report that the United States EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) lists Principles of Green Chemistry on their web site for the entire industry to aspire to. These principles were first published in the book Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice, in 1998. They include:

1. Preventing waste.

2. Designing safer chemicals and products. In other words, trying to make raw materials as non-toxic as possible.

3. Designing less hazardous chemical syntheses. In other words, when combining chemicals, make sure the resulting combination is non-toxic.

4. Using renewable feedstocks. In other words, using agricultural materials that are renewable.

5. Using catalysts. In other words, using a very small amount of a special chemical compound which can carry out a reaction multiple times, thus eliminating waste.

6. Avoiding chemical derivatives. In other words, use the original compound, not parts of it which require distillation or chemical reactions to separate out.

7. Maximizing atom economy. In other words, use everything. Don’t throw anything away.

8. Using safer solvents. In other words, use water or other safe solvents whenever you can and avoid more toxic solvents.

9. Increasing energy efficiency. In other words, produce products at room temperature so you don’t need to heat or cool anything for prolonged periods of time.

10. Designing chemicals and products to degrade after use. In other words, make products that will break down after use and not accumulate in the environment.

11. Analyzing in real time to prevent pollution. In other words, test as you go to avoid transporting materials for testing, storing materials for testing, etc.

12. Minimizing the potential for accidents. In other words, use safe ingredients which won’t explode or otherwise be released into the environment.

That all sounds great, right? Well, it is. But the industry is not close to being able to brag about being “green”. I have spoken to several sources about it, and the consensus is that achieving a “green” industry is at least a decade away. I have a hunch that if you were to press these industry insiders, they would honestly tell you it is probably more like two decades away. And if you looked down at their hands, I think they’d be tightly crossing their fingers, hoping for the best.

While Acne.org is admittedly not there yet either, when we make our products, we make sure to work with companies which actively employ available green technologies, and we stay on top of them, offering creative solutions whenever possible. If we can be a part of making a green industry happen in just a small way, we’re proud to do so.

Pros: It has a very light feel to it and feels good going on. I really enjoyed its “payoff” as they call it in the cosmetics industry–it’s been formulated to really feel nice upon application.

Cons: Small bottle (25mL, .8oz) is gone before you know it. Dries white in patches. This whiteness goes away after moisturizing, but the whiteness can come back after perspiring, much like other creamy lotion based BP.

Bottom Line: Superior to Neutrogena On-The-Spot, Inferior to a gel based benzoyl peroxide.

Recommended: Yes. If you’re in Canada and need a 2.5% BP in a bind, this one will work fine.

Review Spectro AcneCare 2.5% benzoyl peroxide

I called Olay again today to bug them about when the Classic Gentle Formula SPF15 with zinc was going to reach store shelves, if ever. The representative with whom I spoke let me know the product is now officially available for all retailers to purchase across the United States and it is shipping to those who have ordered it. She also said she herself just saw it last night at her North Florida Walmart while shopping for her family.

Any of you guys spot it yet?

She also said if you do not see it at your local pharmacy or retailer to request it from the manager. The more people who ask for it to be stocked, the more likely the manager will order it for that particular location.

I’m thinkin’ we should get this available on drugstore.com again too. I think we can make it happen if we all join in. I called and spoke to the Drugstore.com marketing department and they are taking it under consideration, but they communicated that the more of us they hear from the better. You can use this link to request that they start selling this product. Tips on how to fill out the form:

Name of product: Olay Complete All Day UV Moisturizer – Sensitive Skin
Category: Personal Care
What makes this product so great: [Mention that you preferred the original Olay Complete formula here]

Thanks!

What is an ingrown hair?: Ingrown hairs occur when a hair grows sideways, staying below the skin surface instead of properly exisitng the skin surface. They are common in areas that are shaven, and tend to affect men in their in their 30s and beyond to a higher degree. Ingrown hairs commonly occur on the chin, jawline, or sideburn area. These ingrown hairs can easily masquerade as zits because they are inflamed mounds that hurt. However, they tend to come out of nowhere, seemingly overnight at times, and tend to be painful as well. If you get a sudden, painful “zit” out of the blue, consider the fact that it may be an ingrown hair.

Proper treatment: For many people, ingrown hairs are a seemingly unsolvable conundrum. However, it turns out they can be successfully treated in much the same way as a severe acne lesion. Ingrown hairs respond to benzoyl peroxide and alpha hydroxy acid extremely well, as long as you catch them early. At the first sign of a reddish or painful lump, gently cleanse the skin, wait for your skin to dry, apply 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, wait for the benzoyl peroxide to dry, and then apply 10% alpha hydroxy acid on top. In other words, apply the Acne.org Regimen with the addition of AHA+.

Generally, when an ingrown hair is medicated during its very early stages, it will subside to nothing in a day or two. Benzoyl peroxide helps kill the bacteria that is growing under the surface, and alpha hydroxy helps turn over the skin more quickly, thus releasing the impaction.

Prevention: Most people find that applying the Regimen on a regular basis to ingrown hair prone areas will prevent ingrown hairs from developing in the first place. Regular adherence to a proper benzoyl peroxide regimen should be enough to prevent ingrown hairs without the addition of alpha hydroxy acid. If you are irregular with your benzoyl peroxide use, alpha hydroxy may be needed when an ingrown hair threatens.

Removing/Popping an ingrown hair: If you catch it too late, an ingrown hair can grow larger and more painful. The lesion can come to a white head, in which case you can carefully pop it and squeeze out the offending hair. Absolutely do not attempt to squeeze out the hair unless the lesion has come to a head.

Dermatologist help: In rare cases, ingrown hairs can get out of control, and the lesion they create can expand to several centimeters or even inches long. In this case, promptly see a dermatologist. He/She can administer a cortisone shot and/or remove the hair entirely, thus preventing too much scarring.

Over-the-counter creams/gels: Ingrown hair creams or gels tend to disappoint. I have personally never come across one that works as advertised. For best results, apply 2.5% benzoyl peroxide and a high quality 10% alpha hydroxy acid instead.

acne cosmetica

What it is: Makeup is so well known for causing acne that it has its own term in dermatology, acne cosmetica. While this problem has subsided somewhat in the past few decades as large brand name manufacturers have become more careful with their ingredient choices, it can still remain a problem for some people. Acne cosmetica is often misdiagnosed as run-of-the-mill acne, but it shows up in different ways and can often be treated simply by no longer using the offending makeup. As opposed to acne vulgaris, cosmetic induced acne tends to show up as lots of little bumps on the skin instead of red, inflamed papules and pustules. It can take up to six months for makeup to cause this reaction, and people will often react by using makeup to cover it up, thus perpectuating the cycle.

What to do: In an ideal world, I like to see people forgo makeup until they get completely cleared up with the Regimen. When makeup is used at the same time as the Regimen, it presents an external variable that is hard to control. Once a person is completely cleared up on the Regimen, then it’s safe to add in makeup, one product at a time. I realize that many people feel that they absolutely must wear makeup. In that case, you can do a few things to reduce the chance that your makeup is causing problems:

1. Avoid well known pore clogging ingredients including anything that starts with “isopropyl”, “isostearyl”, or “myristyl”.

2. Choose a large brand name makeup. Large brand names have more at stake and do not want the reputation of breaking out their customers. Almay in particular is well known for keeping acne-prone customers in mind. Their makeup is normally light and pretty safe. Almay blog post here.

Bottom line: What I want to leave people with here is that makeup can cause problems. If and when it does, it can show up a little differently, as smaller bumps that come “out of the blue”. In fact, it isn’t out of the blue. The makeup has been taking months to cause the issue. If this sounds like something you’re encountering, cease using your makeup, get on the Regimen precisely, and then be patient. It may take a while to get your skin back to its balanced, natural state.

Sampling on the new SPF15 is going well and people are liking it a lot. I am still in love with it myself. In the meantime, I’ve been doing more research on Avobenzone and Octocrylene, the SPF ingredients. It’s a mixed bag.

Avobenzone: I am pretty comfortable with Avobenzone. It’s been around since 1981 and I haven’t seen many negative reports on it. It’s a great broad spectrum protectant, and the only chemical sunscreen that really does the job when it comes to UVA rays (the ones that cause cancer). Plus, in the formula that I’ve mocked up, it really doesn’t seem to break anyone out at all. Quite the contrary, people really like how their skin is looking, myself included. So, Avobenzone is a thumbs up. But here’s the kicker–it’s unstable. Once exposed to the sun, it can break down almost completely within 30 minutes. That gives very little protection, especially to people who are out in the sun for a while. That’s where Octocrylene comes in.

Octocrylene: Octocrylene is a relatively weak sunscreen, and works mainly to block only UVB spectrum sunlight (the rays that burn the skin). But, it’s extremely stable, and when combined with Avobenzone, it helps Avobenzone remain stable, thus providing hours of support. The other day, I wore the sunscreen at a pool for hours and I achieved only a light pink hue. However, Octocrylene, much like other popular UVB blockers like Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, tend to produce free radicals when exposed to the sun. This is what has been fueling the long running debate over which is better, sun exposure or sunscreen exposure. I’m using Octocrylene at the lowest percentage I can, but it’s still in there at 7%.

Bottom line: There are only three options when it comes to broad spectrum support: Avobenzone, Zinc Oxide, and Titanium Dioxide. None are an ideal option. Avobenzone must be stabilized and may come with some free radicals. Zinc and Titanium are severe flake promoters and simply do not work well with benzoyl peroxide. Plus, to achieve “vanishing” formulas which do not go on completely opaque like Zinc and Titanium will normally, manufacturers micronize the Zinc and Titanium, which causes an entirely new controversy over whether these micro-particles are safe when absorbed into the body.

So what do we do?: The best bet is to limit sun exposure in the first place, thus eliminating burns and reducing skin damage. I say “limit” because I have a hunch that the sun is very important to our overall health and well being and some exposure may be beneficial. I personally try to get some sun on my body any day that I can, perhaps 15 minutes on each side (keep in mind I am pretty fair and the darker your skin the more you may need). You may also choose to wear a hat instead of sunscreen on the face. In the event that you feel that you do want sunscreen protection, if you are going with Avobenzone-based product, try to find one with antioxidants in the formula. Our formula will have a healthy dose of vitamin E to help combat the free radicals. Also, in the future, look for encapsulated Avobenzone to hit the market. This will be a new product but one that may be interesting for its ability to stay stable on its own.