summer humidityI 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! :)

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)
3. Zinc

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:ice_ziit

Get yourself an eye patch from your local drugstore. They are cheap. I got this one for about $2.49.photo-74

Then hold it on the pimple for 5 minutes. photo-73

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.

We recently found a bunch of empty labelled 8oz. benzoyl peroxide bottles at one of our manufacturers. It was one of those moments where you have to think about what to do–should we practice what we preach regarding environmental stewardship and use them, even though most people, myself included, prefer the tube for the 8oz. BP? In the end, we decided to go ahead and use them.

We did something similar last year when we came across some extra blue bottles from when the products used to be blue. You guys seemed to agree that it was fine to use those blue bottles, even though it meant your products might not all match for a while.

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A quick rundown of our thinking:

Throwing the bottles away:
Benefits:  Continuity of packaging. Less customer service issues.
Drawbacks:  Costs money to haul them away and dispose of them. Guilt; it feels wrong not to use what we have.

Reusing the bottles:
Benefits
:  Possibly save a bit of money by using everything we have. Less guilt.
Drawbacks:  Lots of people prefer the tube for the 8oz. size.

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To me, the decision isn’t very hard. It feels best to use what we’ve got, and it may save us a bit of money (we hope to at least break even once you account for extra customer service and other expenses involved in using the bottles). Thanks for supporting us with stuff like this when it happens. If you absolutely can’t stand the 8oz. BP bottles, let me know, but if you can stomach them for a little while, I think we can all feel pretty good about it.

Benzoyl peroxide causes dryness. There is no way around it. And while the drying and peeling effect of benzoyl peroxide is part of what makes it incredible at clearing acne, the dryness it leaves behind must be put in check for the skin to remain balanced and clear. We’ve been on the topic of how to cope with this dryness for a while, but we haven’t addressed specifically what chronic dryness is and what it does to the skin. Once you understand it, you may see more clearly why it is absolutely essential to keep your skin hydrated.

In short, chronic dryness signals the immune system that irritation is occuring. The body responds to chronic dryness as it does to any irritation. The murky process can be tough to understand, even for modern scientists, so let’s take a look at it from another point of view.

dryness and irritation

Our main characters:

Madge: This is YOU. You are the owner of the club.

Dryness: One of benzoyl peroxide’s effects on the skin. Benzoyl peroxide and its effects are necessary for clear skin, but when dryness is allowed to become chronic, irritation will follow.
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Okay, let’s imagine your skin is a dance club. [Yeah…we’re going there…why not]

All the cool, laid back skin cells are at the club. The music is smooth, and the cells are groovin’. Everybody’s got rhythm. There seems to be just the right amount of cells on the dance floor all night. It never gets too crowded, and everyone is in a good mood.

Then, in walks Dryness. He always comes to the club. Shortly after he arrives, he starts drinking. Once he starts drinking he loses his rhythm and starts stumbling around the dance floor, bumping into the other cells. They get out of the groove too. Everybody starts to get irritated. Somebody calls the cops. A ton of cops arrive and turn off the music. The beat screeches to a halt, and everybody stops dancing and instead just start standing around. The club stops being fun. It gets ugly in there.

This is an extremely old-fashioned town. [Yeah…we’re going even further with this…] The law in this town is that anything that even irritates people is a huge deal. It’s strict. Doing anything that irritates other cells ends up with somebody calling the cops, and the cops respond hardcore every time.

Madge (YOU), the owner of the club, decides that this is getting old. She’s tired of this one irritating drunk guy ruining the night. She makes a new rule that he’s allowed to come, but after 15 minutes, he gets only water to drink.

The moral of the story: Dryness will show up at the party, but he needs to be watched closely and after 15 minutes he needs to be chilled out. In other words, after you apply benzoyl peroxide, you’ll experience dryness. It is always going to be there. But keep an eye on your dryness and after 15 minutes, be sure to apply plenty of moisturizer to make sure the dryness doesn’t become chronic and turn into irritation. It’s a common misconception that dryness is good for acne. It can even seem to make common sense. But you will find that the opposite is true. Hydration prevents irritation, and helps keep you clear. The next time you think to yourself, “I’ll go light on the moisturizer,” think twice. Be generous with moisturizer and your skin will be clearer for it.

(Note: The above story & moral is simplified and dryness is mentioned after applying benzoyl peroxide. However, as many of you note, after washing your face you also experience dryness. Your cleanser does not produce the majority of this dryness, assuming you are using a gentle cleanser. Rather, the dryness is mainly from you being on a benzoyl peroxide regimen. The same advice applies. 15 minutes after applying benzoyl peroxide, be generous with moisturizer and get your skin back into balance.)

Brief history: In 1985, the FDA originally classified benzoyl peroxide as Category I, or GRASE (Generally Recognized As Safe and Effective). Then in 1991, they reclassified benzoyl peroxide as Category III, which means “more data needed,” based on safety concerns that arose at that time. However, as of last month, the FDA decided to return benzoyl peroxide to its original Category I generally recognized as safe and effective classification because, “After reviewing the data, we now conclude that benzoyl peroxide can be adequately labeled to minimize the risks associated with benzoyl peroxide while delivering effective acne treatment.”

The official Final Rule states: “We, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are issuing this final rule to include benzoyl peroxide as a generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE) active ingredient in over-the-counter (OTC) topical acne drug products.”

Summary: In short, some questions arose around benzoyl peroxide’s safety in the early 90s with animal (mice) studies. These studies were inadequate to draw any conclusions, so the FDA decided they needed more data. In the meantime, they reclassified benzoyl peroxide as Category III so until they could see more data. Several studies on benzoyl peroxide’s tumor promotion potential, mutogenicity (can it cause genetic mutations?), carcinogenicity (does it cause cancer?), and photocarcinogenicity (does it cause cancer when exposed to the sun?) were since performed. The data was in. After reviewing the findings from these studies, the FDA decided that benzoyl peroxide should again be considered GRASE (Generally Recognized As Safe and Effective).

Sunburn: Interestingly, they also found that benzoyl peroxide can decrease the skin’s tolerance to UV radiation (i.e., increase sunburn) after repeated applications, and so they are now also requiring an added warning on benzoyl peroxide labels which states, “If going outside, apply sunscreen after using this product.” Manufacturers have a year to add this warning. I will add this to our labels at our next printing.

The Federal Register reclassification of benzoyl peroxide, where the above information is taken, is actually an interesting read. I am particularly struck by both how thorough the FDA research process seems to be, and how concerned the FDA is to the health and financial concerns of both big and small business. Feel free to check it out and add your comments.

I put my benzoyl peroxide in the fridge and have been using it chilled lately. I like it a lot. We know that ice/cold reduces inflammation, so it certainly can’t hurt. I am uncertain, but I have a feeling it doesn’t help too much either. My skin warms up the BP in only a matter of seconds really. Regardless, I think I’ll continue using the BP this way. It’s been hot around here lately and a nice cool application of BP feels good. I almost look forward to it. I’d love to get more comments on this method if you’ve tried it.

When I came out with the benzoyl peroxide pretty much everyone loved it. Then you guys gave me the feedback that you wanted non-paraben preservatives. I changed to non-paraben preservatives and pretty much all of us have been happy clams ever since.

Then I came out with the cleanser and pretty much everyone loved it. But then a few people gave feedback that they wanted it more moisturizing, so I added 10% more moisturization and pretty much all of us have been happy clams ever since.

Recently I released a moisturizer as well. Again, at first most people loved it. But now a few people have been letting me know that the current moisturizer is giving them some flakiness after a few weeks of use. I’ve also gotten other complaints about the moisturizer. So I had a talk with our manufacturer today and we are going to do two things to the moisturizer. (1) We’re going to swap out stearic acid for another ingredient. Stearic acid is most likely the culprit as far as the delayed flakes go. (2) We’re going to sap out bisabolol for licochalcone, an even better anti-inflammatory which is beneficial in the lipase process and thus beneficial for acne.

What’s my point? Just that I appreciate your feedback. We’re in this together and together we are going to keep making the best acne treatment products on the planet. To this end, Joel and I are making a form that we’ll put on the web site soon so that more and more of you can let me know exactly what you like and what you want changed. I’ll keep you posted on that.

Thanks everybody!!

After being off of BP for a few weeks and starting to see imperfections arising, last night I put on a very generous amount of BP and applied it gently. I woke up this morning and looked almost completely clear. BP is truly amazing. I’m sitting here wondering if I should put BP on again during the day today and I think I probably will. By tomorrow I should be back to completely spotless at which time I’ll go back to my Sal Acid samples in the morning and BP at night. That combo kept me incredibly clear for many weeks and I think it’s how I’d like to proceed into the future. That is, until I can figure out a holistic way to clear acne from the inside. That might be the next project!