A member of Acne.org wrote us to let us know that she wrote to Olay complaining that they took away our beloved Olay Complete for Sensitive Skin with zinc oxide. She received the following response from Olay:

“I’m sorry to hear that you were not happy with the formula change made to the Complete SPF 15 products. Our goal is to produce high quality products that consistently delight our consumers and I’m sorry this wasn’t your experience. Please be assured I’m sharing your comments with the rest of our team.

It may be helpful to know there was a formula change in May 2009 for all Complete SPF 15 products with the exception of Complete Defense SPF 30 and Complete Plus. The changes include improved UVA protection with Skin Shield which is a combination of moisture, vitamins, and enhanced UV protection. Skin Shield is an Avobenzone and Octocrylene based sunscreen system with significant levels of both glycerin for moisture and active levels of niacinimide, a B3 complex.

However, although our newest formula with Skin Shield technology is safe and has strong UV protection, we realize the original sensitive version with its gentle formula better meets the needs of our Complete Sensitive users. Therefore, Olay will re-launch the original version of Olay Complete All Day Sensitive SPF 15 Sensitive Cream and Lotion! This will be widely available in April May 2010 and will say Classic Gentle Formula.”

New and improved moistuizer: I’ve been in and out of the lab a few times and we’re making some fantastic progress. I’ll hopefully be sending out samples to moderators and product testers soon to see if they prefer it to the current moisturizer. I prefer it quite a bit myself. The samples I’ve been developing have no tack, take care of flakiness, and feel amazing.

Spot treatment: I’m on the second round of spot treatment now and I’ve sent it out to some moderators and testers to see what they think. I’ll let you know when I get a response from them. I’m not settled on this sample, but wanted to get some feedback before taking it back for improvements.

SPF: I’m waiting to nail down the new and improved non-spf moisturizer first in the hopes of using that base for the SPF. The SPF is still a ways away.

Picture me with my hands up by my shoulders, palms upward, with a silly frown on my face. That’s where I feel like I am with the whole SPF issue. I just don’t know where to go from here. I’ve tried tons of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide SPFs at this point, probably around 70 samples from our formulators and 10 over-the-counter products. Yeah, that’s pretty ridiculous. But it took me trying that many to realize zinc and titanium probably aren’t going to work for us. It turns out they are flake promoting ingredients, and I can’t seem to formulate the flakiness away.

So, what do we do? Well, one option would be moisturizing with a regular moisturizer first, and then applying a zinc or titanium SPF on top of it. That seems kind of annoying to me though. There are already three parts to the regimen and I’d rather not make it four. Plus, my gut says it will still cause flakes. But, it’s always something I could try, so I will try that out and let you know how that works. If you’d like to try with me, I’d love to hear your feedback.

So let’s theoretically say zinc and titanium are out. That would leave us with avobenzone as the only other broad spectrum SPF option. Any other SPF ingredients are not going to give us the UVA protection we want. But, avobenzone-based sunscreens tend to break me out. So, it’s time to look into this issue more deeply. Is it the avobenzone that’s breaking me out or other ingredients in avobenzone products I’ve tried? I’m going to delve into this and see what I can come up with. If we can make avobenzone work without breaking people out, it may be our best option.

In the meantime, I wear hats. I just wear a hat every day. It’s become part of my wardrobe. I put some zinc or titanium SPF on the back of my neck, throw on a hat, and I’m out the door.

Salicylic Acid: I’m plodding along with this. Our manufacturer is back from vacation mid-month, so I hope to have something out in the month or two following.

SPF15 Moisturizer: I found a great formula, which is saying a lot. I’ve tried well over 50 samples–I’m pretty sure it’s actually over 60 but I lost count. At any rate, I am loving the latest formula and am just swapping out preservatives right now to get it nice and stable. Once it’s nailed down it takes a few months in FDA required stability tests, after which point I can fill.

I think I found an adequate solution for SPF for summer. In the meantime, I’m getting closer to a good formula myself. My suggestion:

Olay Complete for Sensitive Skin + a few drops of jojoba oil

I know this sounds off the cuff, but believe me, I’ve tried just about everything and this is the best solution I’ve come across in the past several years. Try it and I think you’ll agree. If you do try it, let me know what you think.

Since I’ve been using the 10% AHA every morning, my skin is much more sensitive to the sun, necessitating a good SPF during the day. I was using a zinc oxide based SPF for the first few weeks with great results. My skin was 100% clear. Then, against my better judgement, I decided to try an avobenzone based sunscreen. Avobenzone based sunscreens have always caused breakouts for me in the past, but I like how they go on less white than zinc oxide based sunscreens. Thanks to the AHA I managed to use the avobenzone for a few days with no problems, but finally did end up with a few small comedones. Me no like. I immediately went off avobenzone and back on a zinc oxide SPF and the breakout is fading. This is probably the fourth time an avobenzone based sunscreen has caused me problems. I guess I’m ready to declare that avobenzone is comedogenic at least on my skin.

New and Improved Moisturizer: After many iterations of our moisturizer with increased moisturizing ingredients (humectants) and with little improvement, I’ve decided the best way for us to move forward is to keep our current moisturizer just as it is minus the stearic acid. The stearic acid is only in the formulation at .4% however, so it will stay remarkably similar. So what do people do who want more moisturization? Add a few drops of jojoba oil. I do this myself from time to time if I want more moisturization on a particular day. I found us a fantastic local, organic jojoba supplier so I’ll be able to offer that in the coming months once I order bottles and get them filled. In the meantime, because I seem to be unable to stop myself :) , I’m working on another few moisturizer formulas with our chemists which will include alpha hydroxy acid. I’ll keep you posted on that.

SPF Moisturizer: I sampled a micronized titanium dioxide moisturizer because it is supposed to be “translucent”, but these words are really just thrown around. It is not translucent. It goes on white. The bottom line is we’re going to have to deal with some whitening if we want full spectrum protection. I’ve got several more samples coming my way.

Salicylic Acid: I am a little obsessive and decided to do further research on the best options for each of our ingredients, and changed a few things here and there. I should get sampled on the final batch Wednesday. I’m hoping it still has the great feel everyone loved when we tested it.

10% Glycolic: People are loving the glycolic so it is good to go. I gave the final OK and got pricing. It is eye-poppingly expensive to produce, but the product is pretty darn great. I’ll try to keep the price as low as I can. Buy a lot of it so we can keep prices low. :)

Organic Jojoba Oil: I just need to order bottles and caps and we’ll start filling. Bottles and caps take a couple of months to produce.