Hey you guys. I’m wondering which SPF you guys are using. As always, I’m on the look out for non-comedogenic SPFs that take care of the flakiness from benzoyl peroxide. They’re pretty impossible to find and while I keep trying to make one myself, I thought one of you might have a secret product that you’ve been hiding from me. If so, please reply below with the exact name of the SPF you use and tell me why you like it. If I haven’t tried it already, I’ll give it a go.

Thanks!

Update: A few of you have been asking for an SPF update. I’m working on getting it feeling just right with ingredients that are uncompromisingly high quality yet within financial reach. The bottom line is that it will come out when all of this comes together but I can’t guarantee when that will be. It may take some time since SPF is quite a tricky brew. I know it’s been a very long time, and it may still be longer. I can promise you one thing–that I am working on it and will let you know the minute it’s done.

In the meantime: A couple of options:

1. Olay Complete All Day UV Moisturizer with a 5-6 drops of jojoba oil added.

2. If that doesn’t work well enough to take care of flakiness, you can mix equal parts Olay Complete All Day UV Moisturizer with Acne.org Moisturizer, and then add 5-6 drops of jojoba oil.

3. Another option is Philosophy Hope In A Jar SPF30. I love this stuff but it is zinc based like so it is a flake promoter, much like the Olay. Since I use benzoyl peroxide and need something to combat flakes, I often mix equal parts Philosophy Hope In A Jar SPF30 with Acne.org Moisturizer plus 5-6 drops of jojoba oil. This gives me an SPF of around 15 and keeps me pretty good on flakes. The only downside is that the Philosophy SPF is very expensive (around $35 for 2 ounces). But since I mix it with Acne.org Moisturizer it goes twice as far.

Spot treatment: Someone asked about the spot treatment as well. This project is on the back burner at this point. In the meantime, the AHA+ works so well for spot treating that it is definitely a suitable alternative.

I am pretty much always trying a new SPF. However, no matter how many I try, I seem to come up empty. In fact, up until now I could really only put my support behind Olay Complete All Day UV, despite its flaws.

Acne.org members and people around the office frequently ask me to trial products. A couple of weeks ago, Kent asked me to try Philosophy brand oil-free SPF30 and gave me a tube of it.

Quite suprisingly, I like it quite a bit. I actually prefer it to Olay. However, upon finding out how expensive it is, I was a bit sticker shocked. I don’t like recommending expensive products because I want the Regimen and all its components to remain accessible. The Philosophy SPF is $38 for only 2oz. However, since good SPFs come along very infrequently, I wanted to pass this along regardless of its high price. Click to read my review. If you have tried it, please add your review as well.

Grrr. I have the distinct displeasure to inform you guys but after months of costing out the SPF, the pricing is still not working. I have certain principles that I won’t compromise. The first is I won’t launch a new product that I don’t feel is equal to my OCD perfectionism, including instructing our lab to formulate with only the very best USP grade ingredients. OCD perfectionism can be detrimental when you find yourself reading phone texts 4 times for grammar and punctuation before pressing send–not that I do that ;),  but when it comes to products used on inflammatory acne-prone skin, this type of perfectionism is warranted. Next, I want all Acne.org products to be within reach of everyday people. The Regimen is not just for the rich. As some of you noted, I could release the SPF at a high price, but it just doesn’t feel right. In fact, that feels kinda gross.

In the meantime I am going to keep pressing forward on aggressive USP grade raw ingredient pricing. I am keeping this project on the top of our list of priorities, to the point where my coworkers are giving me threatening stares–but have no timeline I can give for now. A reminder of good UV-protection options in the meantime:

1.  Hats:  A wide brimmed hat provides 100% UVA blockage.

2.  Olay Complete all day UV moisture spf 15 sensitive skin + 5-6 drops of jojoba oil: Olay is my one and only recommendation for over-the-counter SPF support at this time. Be sure to add 5-6 drops of jojoba oil to help combat the flakiness you may experience from the Olay.

A final summary note: As the sun blazes higher in the sky, remember to become aware once again of increased sensitivity to the sun from AHAs and retinoids.

*Acne.org is in no way connected with Olay or any other product or company. This link is provided for convenience of readers only. Acne.org receives no payment or compensation in any form for this recommendation.

SPF: We have been painstakingly sourcing each ingredient from around the world in an attempt to keep the price on the SPF within reason and within reach. We’re making good progress, and it’s my goal (perhaps I should say prayer since it’s not entirely up to me) to put a sample into FDA required stability testing soon so it can be out for at least part of this summer’s season. No promises, but we’re working on it every day. Depending on certain ingredient lead times and availability, my fingers are crossed that we can make this happen sooner rather than later.

Spot Treatment: The last spot treatment we designed seemed to have everything going for it, and then wham, our testers tried it under BP. It balled up and looked like mini cottage cheese curds on the skin. At the same time, my mind got piqued regarding other potentially beneficial ingredients, and I have been reading about some of them while having a team of people gather research on others. The spot treatment appears to be more of a long term project at this point. I want to launch a spot treatment only when it is revolutionary and amazing since the AHA+ already works so well for me. However, it is very much on the radar.

Moisturizer: For quite some time now, because of my extreme schedule and inability to read through the message boards as much as I would like, Brandy and C’est La Vigne have been updating me regularly on your posts. Rest assured that if you express your concerns to C’est or Brandy, they are likely to be expressed to me. Lately, Brandy and C’est have been telling me that several of you would like me to bring the old moisturizer back. I am hearing you and understand your frustration. However, with my apologies, I’m afraid this is not possible. First, since I would not be recommending it or mentioning it on the web site, I would need to produce it in very small amounts. This is an extremely expensive proposition on several levels–small label runs & small production runs would run the cost into an entirely new “private label” placement in which prices would reflect expensive boutique brands. Next, our full-time team is swamped with current products, and we do not have the resources to relaunch a product at this time. Finally, I feel more comfortable with people using the new moisturizer. While the new formula requires more generous application (at least 3 pumps), the increased gentleness and soothing ingredients that the new moisturizer keep me steadily on board with strongly recommending it over the previous version. For those of you who are experiencing increased dryness with the new moisturizer, please read this post for my recommendation on how much to use, but keep in mind that our current batch of pumps dispense a bit less, so you will need at least 3 full pumps, not 2.

SPF: We’ve nailed a formula. The good news. And it’s really good news because it’s taken about 128 formulas, and several years to get there. The bad news is that I’m finding it is super expensive to produce. The quotes I’m getting from suppliers are so high that I don’t feel right passing it on to you guys. We want products that are the very best in the world, but also affordable. I’m determined to make it happen, and we will launch this, but I want to do it affordably. I’ll keep negotiating with suppliers until we get the price into an acceptable range–while compromising nothing in regards to quality of course.

Spot On

Spot Treatment: The last group of testers gave me mixed feedback. We have good news and bad news again. The good news it that most people are saying this is a spot treatment which actually works. The bad news is that it’s not working well when it is applied before benzoyl peroxide. When people put it on before BP it can become very slightly curdled. So I went back into the lab this week and made a few more iterations in all different types of bases: creamier, more water-y, and more serum-esque, in an effort to remedy this. I kept all of the important active ingredients in there. In the meantime, if you want a spot treatment, the AHA works really well for me and lots of people on Acne.org. Just be certain to catch a zit at the very earliest stages.

Sampling on the new SPF15 is going well and people are liking it a lot. I am still in love with it myself. In the meantime, I’ve been doing more research on Avobenzone and Octocrylene, the SPF ingredients. It’s a mixed bag.

Avobenzone: I am pretty comfortable with Avobenzone. It’s been around since 1981 and I haven’t seen many negative reports on it. It’s a great broad spectrum protectant, and the only chemical sunscreen that really does the job when it comes to UVA rays (the ones that cause cancer). Plus, in the formula that I’ve mocked up, it really doesn’t seem to break anyone out at all. Quite the contrary, people really like how their skin is looking, myself included. So, Avobenzone is a thumbs up. But here’s the kicker–it’s unstable. Once exposed to the sun, it can break down almost completely within 30 minutes. That gives very little protection, especially to people who are out in the sun for a while. That’s where Octocrylene comes in.

Octocrylene: Octocrylene is a relatively weak sunscreen, and works mainly to block only UVB spectrum sunlight (the rays that burn the skin). But, it’s extremely stable, and when combined with Avobenzone, it helps Avobenzone remain stable, thus providing hours of support. The other day, I wore the sunscreen at a pool for hours and I achieved only a light pink hue. However, Octocrylene, much like other popular UVB blockers like Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, tend to produce free radicals when exposed to the sun. This is what has been fueling the long running debate over which is better, sun exposure or sunscreen exposure. I’m using Octocrylene at the lowest percentage I can, but it’s still in there at 7%.

Bottom line: There are only three options when it comes to broad spectrum support: Avobenzone, Zinc Oxide, and Titanium Dioxide. None are an ideal option. Avobenzone must be stabilized and may come with some free radicals. Zinc and Titanium are severe flake promoters and simply do not work well with benzoyl peroxide. Plus, to achieve “vanishing” formulas which do not go on completely opaque like Zinc and Titanium will normally, manufacturers micronize the Zinc and Titanium, which causes an entirely new controversy over whether these micro-particles are safe when absorbed into the body.

So what do we do?: The best bet is to limit sun exposure in the first place, thus eliminating burns and reducing skin damage. I say “limit” because I have a hunch that the sun is very important to our overall health and well being and some exposure may be beneficial. I personally try to get some sun on my body any day that I can, perhaps 15 minutes on each side (keep in mind I am pretty fair and the darker your skin the more you may need). You may also choose to wear a hat instead of sunscreen on the face. In the event that you feel that you do want sunscreen protection, if you are going with Avobenzone-based product, try to find one with antioxidants in the formula. Our formula will have a healthy dose of vitamin E to help combat the free radicals. Also, in the future, look for encapsulated Avobenzone to hit the market. This will be a new product but one that may be interesting for its ability to stay stable on its own.

I am feeling tentatively excited that we might be finally getting closer to something ideal as far as an Acne.org SPF goes.

I worked with one of our formulators to take our new, improved non-SPF moisturizer (which should be out in a few months) and add in some Avobenzone and Octocrylene. I’ve been using this sample generously on half of my face each morning for over a week now and it’s not breaking me out. In fact, the half of my face where I’m using it looks better than the other side of my face where I’m using another sample SPF I’m testing.

This is surprising because all five of the Avobenzone based SPF moisturizers I’ve tried from drugstores over the years seemed to break me out. Because of this personal experience, I had no confidence in Avobenzone moisturizers. Also, because Zinc is a welcome ingredient to acne prone skin, I’ve been formulating only with Zinc or Titanium Dioxide (a similar physical blocker) up to this point. But as you know if you’ve been following this saga, I found that Zinc and Titanium Dioxide are such severe flake promoters that there’s really no way to make an SPF with those ingredients that works with a benzoyl peroxide regimen.

At my wits end, I decided to take another look at Avobenzone. Aside from Zinc and Titanium Dioxide, Avobenzone is the only other reliable broad spectrum active ingredient available in the United States, where I manufacture products. I will only make an SPF which is protecting people from both UVB and UVA rays. It was time to take a second look at Avobenzone.

So, why is this sample not breaking me out? It’s hard to say. Since there are so many variables involved in acne, possible reasons abound. Were other ingredients in the other Avobenzone based moisturizers to blame? Was it other variables in my own life at the time when I tried each of them? Or have I simply not used this Avobenzone/Octocrylene SPF I am currently using long enough to experience a breakout?

I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’re on the right track here. I’ll keep you posted on how it progresses.

I’ve learned to refrain from announcing when new products will be available. There are always a hundred and one things that can delay a launch. Perhaps Olay would be wise to do the same :) As many of you know, Olay let us know they would have the Complete Classic Gentle Formula with zinc oxide back on store shelves in April. When that didn’t happen, they told me May. Well, I had a few people check their local drugstores and so far no one has found it. One of our members contacted Olay again and got this response:

“Olay will re-launch the original version of Olay Complete All Day Sensitive SPF 15 Sensitive Cream and Lotion. Unfortunately, this formula change was pushed back and will begin to ship late May/June 2010. This will be a soft conversion which means the Skin Shield Version and Classic Gentle Formula may both be on store shelves for a period of time. The Classic Gentle Formula will have a green oval in the upper left corner that will say ‘Classic Gentle Formula’.”

At this point, I guess we’re just waiting. Honestly, I feel for Olay and I understand the stress they must be under trying to meet their deadlines in such a complex industry with complicated manufacturing and distribution channels. If any of you do see it on shelves, let me know and I’ll let everyone know. Until then, look for a zinc oxide based sunscreen, and be sure to add a few drops of jojoba oil in there to reduce flakiness. I am also working on several SPF formulas myself, and will keep you posted on that.

We originally heard that Olay was switching back to zinc oxide (from avobenzone) for their Olay Complete for Sensitive Skin product with SPF15 as of April, 2010. However, I’ve been looking on shelves and haven’t seen it yet, so I just gave them a call to see where the heck it is. I spoke to a very nice woman named Brandy over at Olay and she read from the official statement she had there in front of her. It said that they are actually going to be switching back to the original formula as of May, 2010. I asked if that meant the product would be available on store shelves in May and she said “yes”. So, hopefully we’ll be able to get our hands on some of the original zinc oxide based stuff in May. It will have a slight name change she said. It will now be called:

Olay Complete Classic Gentle Formula

Kinda reminds me of Classic Coke :) Don’t change a good thing.

Bear in mind that while I think the Olay Complete Classic Gentle Formula should be good enough when combined with a few drops of jojoba oil, it is not ideal. So, I am still at it…working away at a good SPF for us. I’m testing lots of combinations of safe and effective ingredients to see if we can get one that doesn’t clog pores while at the same time eliminating flakiness and providing broad spectrum protection–an extremely tall order, and perhaps impossible, but I won’t stop trying.