blade buddy

I’ve been looking for a way to keep razor blades sharp longer for quite a while now. I tried a bunch of stuff that I read online such as:

– Blow drying the blades to keep them dry after use
– Wiping them on a piece of denim (a few people do this on YouTube)
– Wiping them on a towel after use
– Storing the blades in jojoba oil

Of the above methods, only storing them in jojoba oil seemed to keep them sharper longer. However, the oil would sometimes get a little gross so I decided to see if there were any other good options.

I recently purchased the Blade Buddy and decided to give it a shot. The instructions on the Blade Buddy tell you to apply some shaving cream to the Blade Buddy and gently glide the blade up the surface of the Blade Buddy 15-20 times before each shave. This sounds like it would be a pain, but it really wasn’t bad at all. I use Acne.org Gentle Cleanser for my shave cream so I just put some of the lather from that on there and did as instructed.

I started using the Blade Buddy on January 12. It’s been 1 month. I started with 2 separate blades which I exchanged daily. I alternated each day for the past month, one day using the first blade without the Blade Buddy, and the next day switching the blade to the second blade and using the Blade Buddy as instructed, then switching back to the first blade without using the Blade Buddy and so on…

I put a new blade under my microscope here at the office and took a picture of a new blade on January 12 before I started. Here it is:

new blade Jan 12

After 15 days of using the first blade without the Blade Buddy, this is how it looks:

no blade buddy blade

After 15 days of using the second blade with the Blade Buddy:

with blade buddy

You can see that the blade I used without the Blade Buddy has many more pits and imperfections. The blade that I used with the Blade Buddy appears smoother and newer.

This leads me to believe this product actually does do something. However, I really can’t notice a difference when shaving yet. If I were to try a blind shave test as it were, I don’t think I’d be able to tell the difference. I’ll keep testing for another month and we’ll see how it progresses. This is kinda fun…

[Note: I am not in contact or related to Blade Buddy in any way.]

4397922637_a04ccd4160_zI feel like it’s a good idea for me to mention this at least once per winter. Tons of people are deficient in vitamin D, especially now that a lot of us are using SPF more regularly. Our bodies are perfectly designed to get vitamin D through sun exposure on the skin, so well designed in fact that if you get enough sun exposure during the summer, your body will hold on to its vitamin D and use it all winter. However, if you are light skinned and didn’t end up getting 10-20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure per day during the summer or if you are darker skinned and didn’t get a bare minimum of 20-60 minutes of unprotected sun exposure per day, you may need to supplement with a vitamin D pill this winter. To know for sure you need your doc to check your levels.

Vitamin D helps in wound healing, cell differentiation, and in moderating inflammation, 3 things that are important to acne sufferers. While there is little published research attempting to link vitamin D levels to acne, it can’t hurt to make sure your levels are in the acceptable range. I would love to see more research on this in the future.

I am light skinned and I try to get unprotected sun exposure during the summer whenever I can, but I work during the day and very often don’t get the time in the sun that I like. The last time I had my vitamin D levels checked they were right on the line between acceptable and deficient, so I take a 10,000iu vitamin D pill a few times a week during the winter. 10,000iu is the upper limit recommended by the Vitamin D Council per day. Your body can produce 10,000iu – 25,000iu in a day of moderate sun exposure. When taking vitamin D, look for D3, which almost all leading authorities recommend over D2, and as always, if you have specific medical issues, be sure to talk to your doctor before supplementing.

The ZIIT MethodI haven’t mentioned The ZIIT Method on the blog recently, but it warrants occasional mention. It’s pretty amazing. This is a method you would use if you want to do absolutely everything you can to prevent a zit from forming. It includes taking zinc and an NSAID like Ibuprophen to reduce inflammation, icing the zit, and spot treating with both 2.5% benzoyl peroxide and 10% glycolic acid.

Because my skin is normally completely clear from The Acne.org Regimen, I don’t have to use this method often, but on rare occasions when I do get a zit and I have a wedding to go to or something big like that, I’ll employ The ZIIT Method. Every time I do, I’m surprised at how well it works. As long as I catch a zit early, I can blast it with The ZIIT Method and eradicate it. It’s kinda fun. Try it out and see for yourself. If you do try it, please take a minute to review it here as well. I’d welcome more feedback from you guys on The ZIIT Method.

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 10.18.18 AMIt’s so easy to forget to take a vitamin. I try to take one 30mg zinc pill per day to keep inflammation down in my body and help with my acne-prone skin. While I am completely clear from The Acne.org Regimen, I still like the idea of using zinc to help calm everything down from the inside out. Multiple studies point toward a 40% reduction in acne symptoms from regular zinc supplementation. In my own completely subjective and anecdotal case, my skin is calmer when I remember to take the zinc pill on a regular basis.

However, zinc is the only pill I’ve been taking lately because I’ve been getting my omega-3s from wild fish and sushi, and remembering to take just one vitamin can be hard. I looked around online for tips on how to remember to take a pill each day, and to be honest they all sound a little over the top. Tape it to your toothbrush? Seriously?! The one simple suggestion that I did like was to just make it a habit and pick a time of day to always do it. I think I’ll choose with breakfast and see if I can get more regular with it.

You can buy zinc at any Walgreens or CVS or from countless vendors online. Just make sure to get zinc gluconate. From what we can tell, this is the best form. 30mg should be a good dose because we get zinc from food as well and you don’t want to get too crazy with it.

Also, as I’ve mentioned before, a fun way to forgo the pill and still get a ton of zinc is to eat oysters. Oysters have far more zinc than any other food. Eating just 3 raw oysters gives you around the same 30mg that you’d get from a pill.

Thank_you_001I take it for granted sometimes, but I think it’s so cool that we have such an active, helpful, supportive community of people on Acne.org sharing their knowledge and experience.

So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I just wanted to say thanks to all of you who are active here at Acne.org, whether that be through adding your honest review of products or treatments you have tried, or whether it is asking and/or answering questions on the forum, uploading pictures to the gallery, or keeping a blog of your experience with acne treatment.

How much do we all rock?! A lot.

ZapA 2012 article published in the International Journal of Dermatology attempted to evaluate whether using a tiny 1.5mm long electrical needle to zap sebaceous glands (pores) might be able to permanently disable these glands and thus prevent acne. Only 12 patients were studied, so replication is of course needed, but the initial results are quite interesting. The researchers treated each patient 3 times at 1-month intervals for 30-60 minutes per treatment. During treatment, the researchers inserted the needle into each active lesion for about half a second and sent 40 watts of electricity into the gland.

The results: “All of the subjects…showed a reduction in inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions after three selective electrothermolysis treatments.” A month after the final treatment mean inflammatory acne was reduced 98.14% and non-inflammatory acne was reduced 83.09%. What is perhaps most interesting is that 1 year after the final treatment, only 2 out of 12 patients relapsed.

Side effects: “All patients reported transient post-treatment erythema (redness), which faded after a few days.”

Quite interesting indeed. I noticed no other studies have been performed on this method, but I would like to see this studied more widely.

References:

  • Lee JW, et al. “Selective sebaceous gland electrothermolysis as a treatment for acne: a prospective pilot study.” International Journal of Dermatology. 2012; 51(3): 339-44.

Head in HandsI’ve read or overheard countless times the faulty warning, “Be careful not to touch your skin because you can move bacteria around and cause acne to spread.” On the myths page here at Acne.org I dispel this myth. What is really happening is when you touch your skin–especially when you touch it roughly and frequently–you are physically irritating the skin. This physical irritation is what can lead to acne symptoms.

Let’s get into a little bit of the science behind this. Now that the genome of acne bacteria (P. acnes) has been decoded, we know that there are three types: I, II and III, and two subtypes, IA and IB. Recently, a group of researchers took a close look at acne bacteria in both people with acne and “healthy” controls. They published the results in the British Journal of Dermatology. One of their major findings is that the presence of P. acnes bacteria on the surface of the skin was almost identical between people with acne and controls: 40.4% vs. 40.0%. They also looked inside inflammatory acne lesions (papules and pustules) and what they found there was that a certain subtype IA was markedly increased, while other types and subtypes were decreased.

The researchers conclude: “…we suggest that distribution patterns of P. acnes over the skin surface at the phylotype level do not support its involvement in the initiation of comedogenesis or inflammation…However, type IA P. acnes…might be more closely associated with inflammatory acne lesions.”

This is pretty cool stuff. The more we understand exactly which types of bacteria are involved in which types of lesions, the better we might be able to specifically target them in the future. In the meantime, there is no reason to feel that if you touch your skin you are “moving bacteria around” and causing acne.

References:

  • Kwon HH, et al. “Analysis of distribution patterns of Propionibacterium acnes phylotypes and Peptostrepococcus species from acne lesions.” British Journal of Dermatology. 2013; 169(5): 1152-5.

korean questionnaire 2Korean researchers gave 136 acne patients in Korea a questionnaire to gauge the patients’ understanding of proper skin care and determine their skin care habits. They then published the results in the International Journal of Dermatology. The results are almost exactly what I would expect from patients inside the United States or anywhere else in the world for that matter. The researchers state, “We doctors have put so much effort into fine-tuning laser parameters and dosages of medication in the past that we might have underrated the role of the patient.”

The questionnaire answers highlight several problems, including excessive face washing. A full 42.7% of respondents wash their face excessively, with 28.7% washing “vigorously until it feels silky,” and 14% washing “until I cannot detect sebum at all.” Physical irritation of the skin is one of the major factors that keep people entrenched in a cycle of acne. One of the easiest and best ways for these respondents to immediately improve their acne would be to wash lightly with a gentle cleanser for only a short period of time.

Next, the researchers asked respondents to answer what they thought caused acne. The most common answer was stress at 27.2%. Excessive sebum production came in tied for second with diet at 14.7% and insufficient cleansing was next at 14%. A few things stand out here. First, while stress is an aggravating factor, it is nowhere near as causal as excessive sebum. Next, insufficient cleansing is rarely a cause of acne. The contrary is true. Overly cleansing causes far more acne symptoms than insufficient cleansing. The scientific community is still gathering evidence on diet to determine if diet is as much of a causal factor as the respondents thought.

After looking at the answers to this questionnaire the researchers state, “This study showed that our patients may be making a great deal of errors and that we may be neglecting them. To effectively treat and prevent further breakouts, appropriate skin care is imperative in patients with acne.” In other words, it is extremely difficult for acne patients to see the results they desire when they are actively practicing bad habits such as over-cleansing the skin.

The moral of this story is similar to many others when it comes to acne. First, be gentle. Do not scrub your skin. Wash only twice a day and wash exceedingly gently for only a short period of time. I recommend 10 seconds or less. Then, don’t expect miracles from the vast majority of acne treatments that your doctor might prescribe. Only a few treatments provide complete clearing of the skin.

Props to these researchers for gathering this information and for responding to it so honestly and clearly. Dermatologists need to better educate patients to stay gentle with their skin if acne clearing is desired.

References:

  • Navarete-Solis J, et al. “A Double-Blind, Randomized Clinical Trial of Niacinamide 4% versus Hydroquinone 4% in the Treatment of Melasma.” Dermatology Research and Practice. 2011.

Acne mechanicaWhen you have acne, it’s tempting to try to scrub it away. But decades of acne research shows us that physical irritation will actually cause acne. This is such a generally accepted condition amongst dermatologists and medical researchers that it has its own name: acne mechanica.

A recent article in the journal Dermatology once again reports on this problem. Three female patients presented with what can only be described as horrible acne. It came on fast and was in the area where they were scrubbing their face with various skin care products. The authors of the article considered the products to be non-comedogenic and ruled out the products themselves as the cause of the acne. In fact, in a nod to cosmetic companies, the authors state, “…nowadays, cosmetic companies are carefully testing their compounds for comedogenicity before marketing, and cosmetics are an infrequent cause of acne.” They go on to conclude, “…repetitive physical trauma could act as a trigger for severe inflammatory acne.”

The cases in this article are severe, but millions of people suffer with acne caused by everyday physical irritation. You can’t eliminate physical irritation altogether, and you shouldn’t aim to do this since it will likely drive you pretty crazy. Instead, take a few minutes to become aware of sources of physical irritation and try to reduce or eliminate them when you can. Then get on The Acne.org Regimen and add in some glycolic acid when needed and you will be nice and clear.

Helpful Links:
Sources of physical irritation
The Acne.org Regimen Instructions
How to use glycolic acid to combat irritation

References:

  • Seneschal J, et al. “Exogenous inflammatory acne due to combined application of cosmetic and facial rubbing.” Dermatology. 2012; 224(3): 221-3.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.19.12 PMI have written about niacinamide (AKA nicotinamide), the active component in vitamin B3, for a couple of years now. Evidence shows it can help significantly reduce acne through its anti-inflammatory effects. However, the more I look into this ingredient, the cooler it becomes. The latest double-blind study I found in the journal Dermatology Research and Practice has researchers administering 4% niacinamide to patients with melasma or dark patches of skin from sun exposure. Melasma is much more common in women and is an extremely prevalent condition experienced during pregnancy. The reason I find this particularly interesting is because people with acne often experience dark/red spots after acne lesions heal, also called hyperpigmentation.

The study pitted 4% Niacinamide against 4% hydroquinone for the treatment of melasma. Results were similar. “Good to excellent improvement was observed with niacinamide in 44% of patients, compared to 55% with HQ.” The lightening effect of niacinamide took a little longer to exhibit itself and was evident at 8 weeks versus 4 weeks for hydroquinone.

As far as side effects go, “Treatment with niacinamide showed no significant side effects and was well tolerated.” This is in contrast to “moderate adverse effects” in 18% of the hydroquinone patients.

I am in the process now of trying niacinamide in Acne.org products because of the breadth and depth of compelling research that exists now on this simple yet effective ingredient. I’ll let you know how that goes.

References:

  • Navarete-Solis J, et al. “A Double-Blind, Randomized Clinical Trial of Niacinamide 4% versus Hydroquinone 4% in the Treatment of Melasma.” Dermatology Research and Practice. 2011.