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! :)

halfsiesFor the past month or so I have been moisturizing every night with 1/2 Acne.org Moisturizer and 1/2 AHA+. I mix them up in my palm before applying. It’s been great. My skin is staying even toned and perfect and because the AHA+ is diluted by the Moisturizer, it is not too strong for nightly use. If you decide to try it, let me know how it goes for you. I’d like to get some feedback.

Note: I usually add 5-6 drops of jojoba oil in there too, but this is not necessary.

– Feel like you want to apply AHA+ but don’t want the full whammy of 10% glycolic acid?

– Feel like you want to apply Acne.org Moisturizer but want to give it a kick of AHA?

– Feel like using AHA+ often but find that it’s too much for every night?

The answer: Mix them together. I do this quite a bit, for all of the above reasons. Because I formulated both products to be compatible, you can mix them together without issue in any ratio you’d like. Just something I wanted to put out there.

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.
_____

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.)

Recently we’ve had a few members let us know that the new moisturizer is leaving a yellow hue on their white collars.  I have never noticed this myself, so thanks for the feedback. Both Acne.org Moisturizer and AHA+ contain an efficacious amount of licochalcone.  This means they are great at soothing and calming the skin, but this also means the products are bright yellow in color.

Once given about 30 seconds to absorb into the skin and dry they will not stain.  So, to avoid staining your collars, consider letting the products absorb before dressing. If you are already dressed when applying, take extra care to avoid light colored collars.

I know you guys are going to love the new moisturizer, but I want to make sure I state very clearly to:

Use 2 full pumps of it

Our old moisturizer was made with glycerin, which is extremely moisturizing, but can cause redness and stinging and can leave the skin feeling tacky. In our new moisturizer we switched from glycerin to methyl gluceth-20. Methyl gluceth-20 is extraordinarily gentle. It won’t sting or cause redness and does not leave a tack on the skin. It is just as moisturizing as glycerin when used in larger amounts. I use 2 full pumps each day and I’m good to go.

The new formula also has licochalcone in it. Licochalcone is the most powerful natural calming agent found on land (there is a type of sea coral that is more calming but I think its wrong to harvest sea coral). With proper application you’ll notice your skin is calmer and less irritated, which is a huge benefit to acne-prone skin. But to get the full calming and moisturizing benefits of the moisturizer, 2 full pumps (4mL) must be applied daily in the AM and PM. (Note: You can substitute the moisturizer with AHA+ ever few nights if you wish)

Looking forward to your feedback!

It looks like if sales continue as usual, the new moisturizer should be ready to ship out on the 17th (Friday) or the 20th (Monday). To get on the mailing list so you know the minute it’s available, go ahead and scroll to the bottom of any acne.org page and type in your email down there where it says Mailing List.

Again, a few quick answers on this moisturizer:

1) It will completely replace the current moisturizer. The current moisturizer will no longer be available, even in limited amounts.

2) A few of you have asked about pre-orders. We are not accepting pre-orders at this time. We ordered plenty so it shouldn’t run out on the first few days of ordering.

3) We’ve yet to come up with an exact price. It will have to be more expensive than the current moisturizer because of the more expensive formula we’re using, but I will crunch it down to the penny and get it to you guys as inexpensively as I can.

4) The packaging will look the same, but with different ingredients on the back.

5) And to those of you who are wondering, yes, I really do think it is that great. I have never used a moisturizer that feels as good going on and keeps my skin looking as good as this one. I’m confident you guys will encounter a similar experience.

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.

Here are some answers to some recent questions. I am not able to get to all open questions on the blog, but here’s a start:

Would you please be so kind as to list the five (Avobenzone) products you’ve tried in the past? Thank you.

I don’t remember most of them. Sorry. The only one I remember is Neutrogena Ultra Sheer.

What about the bare minerals new SPF powders. May be kind of girly but have you tried it?

I have tried it, in the name of science! I even went out on the town one day with it on, hoping no one would notice. The first thing my friend said when I saw him was, “Are you wearing makeup?” LOL. Anyway, I hated it. It felt cakey and my skin got dry and flaky. Do people really like that stuff? I can’t imagine. As a side note, makeup is an area that I want to study more. I know it is important. If anyone wants to help with research in this area, please contact me.

…isn’t mineral oil one of those things to avoid?

No. Mineral oil is non-comedogenic. In the old days they had multiple grades of mineral oil on the market and the lower grades were comedogenic, but these days only the highest grade is used in products, and it is non-comedogenic.

Is SPF 15 really enough for good protection than SPF30 during summer heat?

As you go up in SPF you get diminishing returns. SPF15 is over 90% as effective as SPF30. And anything over SPF30 is likely to not give any better protection than SPF30. I personally feel more than comfortable with SPF15. The higher SPF formulas I have tried seem too greasy and heavy.

I think too much BP (for me) causes too much irritation. Is this possible?

Yes, this is absolutely possible in two circumstances. (1) At the onset of a benzoyl peroxide regimen, and (2) if you are not using adequate moisturizer. At the start of the Regimen, you want to use a small amount of BP to reduce overly irritating side effects. And once you are on the Regimen it is vital to moisturize twice a day, every day, to maintain a balance in your skin. Benzoyl peroxide, when used correctly, is incredible for clearing acne, but it must be used within a regimen that includes adequate moisture to reduce overdrying the skin.

How close are you to releasing the new moisturizer?

We are hoping for 3 months from now or so.

Are you going to use (in the spot treatment) a betta-isomer of Salicylic Acid?

Yes, we use beta hydroxy acid, the active form of salicylic acid.

(Will the spot treatment have) BP in it??

No. Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid cannot be in the same formula. Plus, benzoyl peroxide doesn’t do well in strongly acidic formulations. I am keeping the spot treatment at the legal limit for acidity, 3.5pH, so we can get as much activity from the glycolic acid as we can.

Is it okay to use (the spot treatment) on the whole face instead of the AHA treatment?

I wouldn’t recommend it. First of all, I am leaning toward bottling it in very small tubes. Secondly, it is extremely strong. The spot treatment is made to be used in a tiny pin size amount.

How do I know if I’m being gentle enough (on the Regimen)?

Check out the videos and when in doubt, be more gentle. Also, remember that staying gentle not only applies to during application of the Regimen, but also throughout your day. Try to keep your skin relatively untouched.