I read three studies recently on Sodium L-Ascorbyl-2-Phosphate (SAP), which is a topically applied vitamin C derivative. It is an antioxidant which is showing statistically significant acne clearing over time. It seems to clear the skin about as much as other topical prescriptions. This sounds impressive, but keep in mind that most topical prescriptions only clear the skin 40-50%. This is why The Regimen is so important because it completely clears the skin, which is what people really want. But I digress…
The three studies I read were in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, Cosmetic Dermatology, and the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. They all used 5% SAP and show around 40-50% clearing of acne after 8-12 weeks with very few side effects. SAP has a good safety profile. Only a very small percentage of participants in the studies withdrew because of adverse effects even at a relatively high 5% titration.
Why might it work? Squalene is the most abundant fatty substance in the skin. Some scientists hypothesize that acne may be partly due to squalene oxidation. SAP is an antioxidant. Next, it may help reduce inflammation, which can not only help calm acne, but may also help prevent scarring to some degree and also help clear hyperpigmentation a bit faster.
I am always trying new ingredients in Acne.org products, and this is on my list to also try. I’ll let you know if and when it makes it into one of our products.
- Ikeno H, Ohmori K. “Open Study Comparing Sodium L-Ascorbyl-2-Phosphate 5% Lotion Versus Adapalene 0.1% Gel for Acne Vulgaris.” Cosmetic Dermatology. 2007; 20(6): 368-372.
- Ruamrak C, Lourith N, Natakankitkul S. “Comparison of clinical efficacies of sodium ascorbyl phosphate, retinol and their combination in acne treatment.” International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 2009; 31: 41-46.
- Woolery-Lloyd H, Baumann L, Ikeno H. “Sodium L-ascorbyl-2-phosphate 5% lotion for the treatment of acne vulgaris: a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial.” Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2010; 9: 22-27.
We just started selling new Travel Sized products in 3.4 oz. bottles. Airport security (TSA) in the United States sets the limit for carry on products at 3.4 ounces, so we went right up to that legal limit. These Travel Sized products should last you for about 12-13 days which should be plenty even for a longer trip.
The new labels are going out on almost all of the products now. I’m super curious what you guys think of them once you have them and are using them. Please let me know.
I live in San Francisco where the weather is almost always temperate–cool with low humidity. However, I am in Pennsylvania right now visiting family. I forget how unforgiving hot, sticky summer weather can be to acne-prone skin until I am enveloped in it. I’ve had to be super strict with The Regimen since I’ve been here to stay clear. This is par for the course in hot, humid weather, however. Researchers have found that people in hot and humid climates have more incidence of acne and more severe cases of acne than those in temperate climates. This is not to say that you can’t still stay clear during summer. It just takes stricter adherence to The Regimen.
Tips to stay clear in hot/humid climates:
1. If you end up sweating, try to be gentle when you dry off. Dab your skin gently with a towel or napkin and do not rub the sweat off. Constantly wiping off sweat can be irritating to the skin and cause a breakout. More tips on how to avoid irritation here.
2. Be super strict with The Regimen. Do it twice a day, every day, use plenty of benzoyl peroxide, and moisturize even if you don’t feel that you need to. In the summer it is even more important to follow The Regimen to a T.
3. Try adding 10% glycolic acid (AHA) to The Regimen to bump up the effectiveness even more. Just be sure to adequately protect your skin from the sun if you decide to add in glycolic acid.
4. Since body acne can be aggravated by irritation, and sweat + irritation can make this worse, you may need to treat your body in the summer as well.
Now go out and have some fun!
I coach people through The Regimen regularly. Something I’ve always noticed is that it’s much harder to get them cleared up when they are on alternative products. When I get them on Acne.org products they clear up nicely. Sure, sometimes I need to get them to be more gentle, avoid getting sunburnt, etc. but oftentimes it’s as simple as just getting them off of other products and on to Acne.org products.
Recently, I asked a bunch of people to look at The Regimen pages and tell me what products I thought they should use. Almost unanimously, they said the impression they got was that they could just as easily use alternative products on The Regimen and get clear. This is not the truth. What I’ve always tried to communicate is that you can theoretically use alternative products on The Regimen, but you need to choose them carefully and they may not work as quickly or as well.
Therefore, I have removed alternative products from The Regimen page. I feel it is a disservice to send people on a wild goose chase from the start. I’m getting way too many people telling me that they think The Regimen is not working when they are using alternative products and ultimately getting cleared up quickly when I get them switched over to Acne.org products. If you are currently on The Regimen using alternative products and having problems, this may be the cause.
I still mention that you can use alternative products on the FAQ and of course people are welcome to discuss alternatives on the forums and around the Internet. I just wanted to keep you guys in the loop as always.
Leading medical journals have published two articles recently on the potency of glycolic acid to clear acne. It’s nice to see this hard evidence come in after so many years of all of us realizing first hand that glycolic acid helps keep us clear.
The first article in The Journal of Dermatology attempted to gauge if glycolic acid peeling helps improve acne, and if it does, whether it is through its ability to kill acne bacteria (P. Acnes). The researchers found “significant improvement of inflammatory eruptions from the first application.” They also found that glycolic acid kills acne bacteria: “Each treated side (of the person’s face) had much lower numbers of colonies compared with the untreated side…”
The second article in the Journal of the German Dermatological Society summarized what we are now seeing in the medical literature when it comes to glycolic acid and acne: “Patients assess their skin as more tensile, firmer, smoother and more youthful looking after the use of AHA containing products. For mild acne, the efficacy has been proven by double-blinded, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials.”
For more on how to use glycolic acid with acne, see this video:
To order Acne.org 10% Glycolic Acid (AHA+) go here.
- Takenaka Y, et al. “Glycolic acid chemical peeling improves inflammatory acne eruptions through its inhibitory and bactericidal effects on Propionibacterium acnes.” The Journal of Dermatology. 1012; 39(4): 350-4.
- Babilas P, Knie U, and Abels C. “Cosmetic and dermatologic uses of alpha hydroxy acids.” Journal of the German Dermatological Society. 2012; 10(7): 488-91.
Researchers published a very interesting study recently in The American Journal of Clinical Dermatology to gauge how accurate data from crowdsourcing is when it comes to the efficacy of acne treatments. The researchers asked 662 online acne patients to tell them how well their treatments were working and then compared this to results from clinical studies. I found a few interesting things.
Responses from the crowd seemed to vary quite widely with clinical studies. For instance, only 46% of respondents from the crowd reported any improvement from tretinoin (Retin-A) compared with 80% of subjects in clinical trials. 64% of the crowd reported improvement from Accutane (isotretinoin) compared with upwards of 90% of subjects in clinical trials. 41% of the crowd reported improvement from tetracycline oral antibiotic therapy compared with 57% of subjects in a clinical trial. 38% reported improvement from doxycycline oral antibiotic compared with 50% of subjects in a clinical trial.
You may be noticing a trend here. As the authors of this particular study note, “For most…treatments, medication with high efficacy in clinical trials did not produce high effectiveness ratings based on the crowdsourced online data.” Why might this be? Could it be due to the inaccuracy in respondent responses outside the parameters of a clinical setting? Or could it be because the people funding the vast majority of clinical trials are the companies who make the products? Lest I get too high on my high horse, I do not think it is always the case that data is skewed in favor of corporations and profits. For instance, over the past 20 years, hundreds of thousands of pieces of input from people here at Acne.org show Accutane (isotretinoin) producing improvement for way more than 64% of people.
Something I very often find disturbing from results of acne medications, whether the data comes from the crowd or clinical trials, is the poor efficacy of the medications themselves. Who wants to use a medication which only helps 50% of people improve, and only improve somewhat? This is why I want the world to know about The Regimen here at Acne.org. It reliably gets almost everyone completely clear. That’s the kind of results people want.
So where do we go from here? I firmly believe that the future of pretty much everything is in crowdsourcing, and medicine is no exception. We know from Wikipedia that when enough people get together to share their knowledge, crowdsourcing can be incredibly accurate and valuable. I think the same can be true for medical information as long as we achieve a critical mass of people inputting their data. That’s one of the big goals of Acne.org and I hope we see more of this in the future across the medical spectrum. Join Acne.org if you haven’t already and add your voice!
- Armstrong A, et al. “Harnessing the power of crowds: crowdsourcing as a novel research method for evaluation of acne treatments.” The American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. 2012; 13(6): 405-16.
For those of you who have tried The ZIIT Method, you know it works as long as you catch the zit early in its lifecycle. But why does it work? Is it the Zinc, Ibuprofen, Ice, or Treatment that is doing the most?
In order of ability to stop a zit in its tracks I would rank them like this:
1. [Tied for first place] Ice and Treatment (2.5% benzoyl peroxide followed by 10% glycolic acid)
2. Ibuprofen (or other NSAID)
We know that early application of 2.5% benzoyl peroxide and 10% glycolic acid will usually stop a pimple from forming. However, ice is often overlooked for its anti-inflammatory prowess. Try and and you’ll see. Next time you feel a zit forming, even if it seems like it’s going to be a big painful one, try The ZIIT Method, and don’t forget the ice component.
A tip for how to apply ice:
Put a piece of ice in a ziploc bag:
Get yourself an eye patch from your local drugstore. They are cheap. I got this one for about $2.49.
Then hold it on the pimple for 5 minutes.
Do this twice a day along with the rest of The ZIIT Method and you will be surprised how much power you have over a menacing zit–as long as you catch it early.
If you order an Acne.org Cleanser, you will now get the new label design! We changed the names of a few of the products too. Acne.org Cleanser is now called “Gentle Cleanser,” because, really, that’s what it is. Acne.org Treatment will become simply “Benzoyl Peroxide (2.5%),” and our Acne.org AHA+ will become simply “Glycolic Acid (10%).” The names of Acne.org Moisturizer and Jojoba Oil will not change. Overall, we’re going for super straightforward in both the names of our products and the look of the packaging. We also added QR codes to the back of products so people can easily scan and learn exactly how to use them.
Right now only the Cleanser is being sent with the new label, but the other products will slowly start being sent with the new label design in the coming months.
Enjoy! And as always, definitely let me know what you think of it.
The Regimen calls for waiting 5-15 minutes after cleansing before you applying benzoyl peroxide. For the past few weeks, I’ve been eliminating this wait. I have been cleansing my skin, patting dry, and then immediately treating with benzoyl peroxide. I’m questioning the waiting time after cleansing for a couple of reasons:
• People often simply do not have the time
• It may not be necessary
I want The Regimen to be as easy as possible to follow. Eliminating the waiting between cleansing and applying benzoyl peroxide could be a good step in that direction.
So far, my skin is still perfectly clear even though I am not waiting the prescribed 5-15 minutes after cleansing.
My question for you guys: Have you experimented with not waiting after cleansing like I’m currently doing? How did it go?