I’ve been looking into Vitamin D lately and what I’m finding is jolting.  It turns out most of us are deficient, and achieving adequate levels is critical to our health…and perhaps to acne.

What vitamin D does in our bodies:  Vitamin D helps keep cells healthy.  Pretty much all of our cells use Vitamin D, including our skin cells, and they don’t work optimally when they don’t have enough.  When our cells don’t have enough Vitamin D, they tend to mature incorrectly.  This may result in cancers, diabetes, stunted growth, muscle weakness, arthritis, bowel disease, and skin conditions like psoriasis and perhaps acne.

We don’t get enough:  Evolution has created the human body to be a well tuned Vitamin D factory which makes just the right amount of Vitamin D for ideal health.  Over billions of years, all the way back to some of the very earliest cellular lifeforms on earth, living things were designed to soak up the sun and produce vitamin D. Throughout human evolution, our species evolved many different skin tones depending on where we lived around the world in order for our skin to soak up just the right amount of sunlight to produce optimal Vitamin D levels. It’s that important.

Some varieties of fish and some fortified foods contain Vitamin D, but the sun is by far the leading way that our bodies get Vitamin D. However, in modern society, most of us no longer get the sun exposure Mother Nature intended, and thus do not produce adequate amounts of Vitamin D.  The darker the skin tone, the more serious the deficiency tends to be, but even people with the light skin are often deficient.  A 2006 Mayo Clinic review reported that 57% of general medicine inpatients in the U.S. were deficient.  Levels were even higher in Europe.  Chances are you may be deficient as well.  My doctor ordered a full blood work done recently, and the one thing he expressed concern about was my slight Vitamin D deficiency.  I take a Vitamin D pill almost every day, but even with this I remain slightly deficient.

What about acne? I’ll be looking more deeply into a possible Vitamin D and acne connection.  Since Vitamin D helps keep cells from overproducing, it makes sense that proper amounts of Vitamin D could help prevent pores from overproducing cells, which is what ends up producing a clogged pore and an ensuing zit.  Supplementation with Vitamin D or topical application of Vitamin D are both potentially an option.  Already, the front line in psoriasis treatment is the application of topical Vitamin D. Could it help with acne too? I think it would be interesting to find out.

How to get enough:  In almost every study I’m reading on Vitamin D deficiency, scientists recommend 5-10 minutes of exposure to the sun during 10am and 3pm, without wearing any SPF.  Since most of us either work or go to school during those times, this can be difficult.  In that case, they normally recommend taking a Vitamin D supplement.  The minimum recommended amount seems to be 1000IU per day.  However, this is what I take each day and I’m still slightly deficient.  I’m considering bumping it up.  Vitamin D can be toxic in super high amounts, but even at levels over 7000IU per day, researchers saw no adverse effects after two months of supplementation.  From what I’m gathering from my reading, Vitamin D3 in particular is a safe choice, and is widely available on store shelves.

I’ve been telling all my friends and family to consider hanging out in the sun a little more, or alternately supplementing with Vitamin D.  I really think it’s important.  For people with acne in particular, I think daily supplementation of fish oil, zinc, a good multivitamin, and at least 1000IU of Vitamin D makes a lot of sense.

Miscellaneous Questions and Answers:

So, are we saying that the baby wash is also equal to the purpose cleaner? And if so, is the baby wash also a replacement or a substitute for the face wash in the first step for the regimen?

I’d actually like to hear from more of you on this. I don’t personally like baby wash, Purpose, or Clean & Clear because they are heavily scented. But if it’s working for people, it might be a low cost option.

I been on the regimen for 4 months and am almost completely clear all I have is scars and a few whiteheads. I have a question for Dan what can I do to help with my scars every time a pimple goes away I get a scar I get all frustrated. Please tell me what to use or do. I tried ur aha and it helped little bit. Thanks

You’re doing the best possible thing you can do, which is to clear up your skin and thus prevent future scarring. In order to prevent scarring more completely, be vigilant in your adherence to the Regimen. And whatever you do, do not pick! If you must pop, that can sometimes be done without scarring, but avoid picking at all costs.

For more on scarring, check out the brand new scars pages.

What about the new labels (that you mentioned in a recent blog post)?

These are probably a while away still. We’re planning an entire site redesign which will incorporate the new labels and a whole bunch of new stuff.

Moisturizer Questions and Answers:

Can’t wait to try (the new non-SPF moisturizer). How about shine? The old moisturizer made my skin shine and appear oily. I’m hoping that this one won’t as much. I like the matte look. :)

The new moisturizer should be much less shiny than the old one. It has a nice matte finish.

Will the new moisturizer…be available in a tube, instead of a pump bottle?

We are putting it in a bottle to start. In the future, we may switch to a tube.

Will (the new non-SPF moisturizer) be more moisturizing as well?

It should be equally moisturizing. The old moisturizer was extremely moisturizing already. If you are having problems with any moisturizer not providing enough hydration, consider adding 5-6 drops of jojoba oil into each application.

Dan, could you tell us something about the developmental phase of this new moisturizer particularly how the ingredients were chosen and the mixture defined? I have understood that the company behind the Acne.org doesn’t have as great resources to put into the development of new products as some others so how is it possible that this moisturizer is “the best moisturizer they’ve ever tried”?

I wonder where you got the idea that we don’t have great resources!? Quite the contrary, we have some of the greatest minds in the U.S. and in the world working with us closely on each formula. Our BP, for instance, is made by a company which is owned by a cosmetic chemist who is renown in the skin care world as the leading BP manufacturer bar none. When it comes to our moisturizer, I researched ingredients at length myself, and then worked very closely with a team of top tier cosmetic chemists from around the world, all of us laboring on over 100 samples until we have arrived at our latest one. Acne.org has access to the best people in the world. I would have it no other way. We carefully work as a team to choose each ingredient. I am also personally involved in each phase, sometimes to an excruciating degree, if you were to ask the chemists :)

As always, I will let the products speak for themselves. I aim to produce literally the world’s best product in each category for all of us to use. If I can’t achieve that for us, I see no reason to produce it.

Will we still have an option to buy the old (non-SPF mositurizer) formulation once the new one comes in? Will the old one be for sale?

No. The new moisturizer is improved. I think you’ll be very happy with it. I went with my gut on this one. I quite simply don’t want anything but the best out there, and we have a “new best” now.

Makeup Questions and Answers:

Does it help if the make-up says non-comedogenic? …and hypoallergenic and fragrance free?

Seeing “non-comedogenic” on a product doesn’t mean much. There is no regulating organization when it comes to claiming the term “non-comedogenic”. Anyone can print this phrase on any product, no matter the ingredients. When it comes to “hypoallergenic”, products do have to undergo testing to put this claim on the product. However, many products which do not claim “hypoallergenic” are also extremely gentle. “Fragrance free” formulas are devoid of added fragrances but are not necessarily completely scent free due to natural ingredients in the product which may have a slight scent. I always look for fragrance free products because (1) I just happen to hate fragrance, and (2) the less unnecessary ingredients the less chance of any reactions or problems.

Could you expound on what your research has revealed about isopropyl?

Isopropyl Isostearate and Isopropyl Myristate are two highly offending ingredients from rabbit studies. When scientists rubbed various compounds on albino rabbit ears, these two ingredients tended to clog pores to a very high extent. Myristal Myristate and Laureth-4 presented as the two other most offending ingredients. Another “Iso”, Isopropyl Palmitate, was also comedogenic, albeit to a slightly lesser degree. Keep in mind, however, that the scientists applied all of these ingredients at a very high percentage. Cosmetic manufacturers usually use them in small amounts in cosmetic formulas. I personally choose to avoid these heavy offenders just to stay on the safe side.

How long would you have to stop using makeup to have these (Acne Cosmetica) bumps clear up? And what if you use mineral foundation?

This is a good question. Since Acne Cosmetica appears more non-inflamed, I would surmise that it would take a bit longer than inflamed acne to clear it up. But I do not have close personal experience in this area. Would anyone like to comment on how long it took them to clear up their cosmetic induced acne?

Dan, oh Dan. When will you start recommending mineral makeup for acne prone skin?

I don’t foresee it. In the name of science and in the name of Acne.org I went to the mall and full-on applied mineral makeup one day and wore it around for the rest of the day. I detested the heavy, ongoing feel of it, and it was everything I could do to not wash it off. Particularly, it was incredibly itchy. This tendency to induce itchiness causes scratching, which in turn produces irritation. In speaking with some women who have tried lots of different types of makeup, they seem to have experienced the same itchiness and cakey feel when it comes to mineral makeup.  What about the rest of you?  What do you think?

Sunscreen questions and answers:

When should we expect to see your suncreen product available to purchase?

I’m hoping to get a sample into FDA required testing within a month or so. This testing takes a minimum of 3 months, after which point we need to produce labels, bottles/tubes, etc. New product introductions are a lengthy process. I’m hoping for next year when the sun again climbs high in the sky.

Dan, I’ve followed your website for years and to my knowledge, you’ve always said that avobenzone is a breakout trigger and that zinc oxide was the best option for acne-prone people. Since when did your philosophy on this change? And what is the reason behind the change? You always seemed vehemently anti-avobenzone before, and the sudden change of heart is confusing.

I can see why you are confused. I was vocally anti-Avobenzone before, and I stand by that decision because all of the Avobenzone-based sunscreens on the market broke me out. However, I always made to sure to include the caveat that it may be the Avobenzone that was breaking me out and it may be something else. If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years it is that life presents us with a multitude of variables, and it’s almost never a good idea to jump on one variable as the cause of something.

But after literally years of testing zinc and titanium dioxide based over-the-counter sunscreens, and after an equal amount of time formulating zinc and titanium dioxide sunscreens myself, I realized these ingredients are not an option. They are simply too flake-promoting, no matter the percentage of emollients I put into the formulas. At the end of my rope, I decided to formulate with Avobenzone myself, thus ensuring that all other variables were safe. It turns out that Avobenzone must not have been the culprit of my previous breakouts because after about 6 months of daily use of the Avobenzone formula I produced, my skin looks and feels great and is consistently and predictably almost perfect. I have received an overwhelmingly positive response from all of those who I asked to sample it as well.

So what was caused my breakouts then? It’s hard to say. I’ll keep looking into other variables and see if I can pinpoint something.

Brandy and I have been discussing makeup a lot lately and I think it’s time we had a better, more filled out page regarding makeup and how to apply and remove it safely. I’m going to include recommended brands, recommended ways of applying, and things to avoid.

Anything you can think of that you’ve been dying to tell people about? Have you found the perfect makeup brand? The perfect method of applying? Have you noticed that there is one thing that absolutely must be avoided that I might not be thinking about? Let me know.

For years, one of the drugstore cleansers I recommended was Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash. It has a strong scent, but it does the trick. Then, a member emailed me and let me know that it is the same exact product as Clean & Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser, Sensitive Skin. Both are by Johnson & Johnson. Well, lo and behold, it is.

Companies sometimes package the exact same product under different brands. In some cases, like in this case, they charge significantly different amounts. In this case $.30-$.40 per ounce difference.

Since I understand that perception is everything, I can’t come down on these companies for giving consumers what they want, but I can point it out, just so we know never to pay more for the same product! If you are currently using Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash, you may as well switch over.

A huge thanks to everyone on the scars team:

Aren, Miriam, Joel, Kent –> you guys rock.

Drumroll: Here’s the new Scars Page. It should have improved information and better usability. Please check it out and let me know what you think of it. If you find mistakes, I’d love to know what you found as well.


We’re getting ready to fill the new, improved moisturizer. It should be for sale sometime in mid September if all goes well.

Overview: I tell people if it’s not the best moisturizer they’ve ever tried, I’m not happy. Usually it does end up being the best they’ve tried. I have seldom felt so confident about any product release. I have been using it for about six months very diligently every evening and have not found any issues in the short term or long term. I have also sent out about 100 samples and received lots of responses. Feedback is almost entirely positive, with some people begging me for more. I think you guys are going to be completely in love. I’m bursting at the seams waiting to get it out to you guys.

What’s different about it: It has a completely new ingredient list, carefully chosen for non-comedogenicity as well as effectiveness and gentleness. I chose to rebuild it from the ground up in order to completely resolve the old issue of stinging that some people experienced. This issue should be completely resolved with this new formula. It also has none of the “tack” that people sometimes experienced with the old moisturizer. In other words, it will not leave an afterfeel. Your skin should just feel great.

It just goes on smoothly and absorbs quickly. The new formula is slightly thicker than the old formula due to the new ingredients. This thicker feel takes a little getting used to and requires a bit of extra care during application to avoid irritation.

It contains licochalcone, the licorice root extract we use in the AHA+, and is thus has a yellow color. This yellow color does not show on the skin. As many of you know, I love licochalcone for how it soothes and calms acne-prone skin.

Lastly, the new moisturizer is best when used generously. I recommend two full pumps. It is so good that in my experience it actually improves my skin, both my skin’s ability to stay perfectly clear as well as my skin’s overall feel and tone. I’m going to want everyone to be generous with it and receive all its benefits.

Price: I’m pricing out each ingredient now, and as always I’ll charge as little as I can. Some of the new ingredients are expensive–licochalcone in particular–but you guys have been asking for me to put it into the moisturizer for years now, and I agree that it’s worth it. The price will almost certainly need to go up from the previous formula, but I will do everything I can to price it affordably.