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.

We all know that irritation can aggravate acne. I talk about it all the time. However, throughout the years I’ve also read in multiple acne related books, and heard in multiple acne related classes which I’ve attended, that irritation plus sweat is even worse. I’ve found this to be very true in my own experience as well.

Let’s use me as an example for a sec. I often get tired at work or when sitting at a table somewhere and put my head down, resting my chin on the back of my hands. I rarely have any issues with that. But recently, I have been getting sun on my body and when I turn over to get some sun on my back, I end up resting my chin on the back of my hands. The difference is that outside in the sun there’s sweat in the mix. I got a “mysterious” breakout under my chin area recently and it perplexed me until I put this together. It was the sweat plus irritation combination that most likely caused the breakout.

Another good example of sweat mixing with irritation is chin straps. Not only do chin straps rub against the skin, they often cause sweatiness. Also, chin straps are worn during physical activity, which includes sweat. This is why for many people, it is especially important to treat that area during sports season. Helmets are another example. Backpack straps rubbing against the upper back in hot, humid weather is another. You get the idea…

I am not telling you this to make you paranoid. We all get sweaty, especially in the warm months, and there is no way to completely avoid irritation. I mention it just so you can become aware of what’s going on and try to mediate it if and when you can. If you end up experiencing sweat mixed with irritation in some area of your skin which tends to be acne prone, be extra careful to apply benzoyl peroxide judiciously in that area.

Hey you guys. You’ve asked and I’m listening. We’ve designed new labels and taken ACNE.ORG off the front of the label. It only whispers about the web site on the back of the label. We have also added longer, more specific directions to the labels so that “The Regimen is on the labels.” This is the “duh” idea that you guys told me you supported not too long ago. The new labels are much more medical looking, and that’s on purpose. products are the very highest quality out there. I want the labels to reflect this.

The products themselves won’t change, just the labels. The one exception is our moisturizer, which if you’ve been reading the blog you know is changing to a new, improved version. Here is our moisturizer label, which will most likely roll out first.

I think we may have nailed the spot treatment. It’s got:

12% AHA at a 3.5pH, so it’s extremely powerful and stings to high heaven. You’ll need to use only a very tiny amount each time.

2% Salicylic Acid, to bump up acne fighting properties. Even though we all know sal acid isn’t good enough on its own, I thought it would make sense to put the legal limit of it in here just to cover all of our bases.

10% Willow Bark, which is a way of getting more natural aspirin/sal acid into the product, and hopefully helping out a bit with analgesic (pain killing) properties, even though, to be honest, this product isn’t the great topical pain reliever I wanted it to be. To get that effect, I’ve found you need to go with lidocaine or benzocaine, and they don’t work in an acidic base. I tried topical ibuprofen, ketoprofen, aspirin, and other similar topical pain killers and it turns out they just aren’t great for epidermis (surface) pain killing. Supposedly they work deep down on joint pain, but quite frankly I didn’t find that to be the case either.

0.1% Licochalcone, ‘cuz we all know it and love it.

Ayurvedics, like Neem, Boswellia, and Turmeric because even though all the bases were already covered, might as well double cover all the bases 🙂

I’ll be sending samples out to the moderators to get their response and if they OK it, we’ll make it a Go and get it out to you guys to see what everybody thinks. I’m not sure about price yet, or size for that matter. You need to use only a minuscule amount of it each time you use it, so it will be small. I’m making these decisions as we move forward. It is considered an over-the-counter acne treatment, so it must enter into FDA required stability testing before it goes for sale. This process takes months, but at least hopefully we can get the ball rolling…

I live in San Francisco, which is an extremely temperate climate. We also have some of the most consistent water in the country because it comes from pristine mountain snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountains. This makes my personal acne treatment regimen predictable and even. However, when I travel, I tend to notice changes in my skin.

For instance, I just went to Pennsylvania to visit my mom and dad last week. Weather is far more extreme on the East Coast than it is here in San Francisco. It was cold one day and warm and humid on another day. Also, the water there tends to be different from what my skin is used to here on the West Coast. Weather and water changes, combined with the dry plane cabin on the flight to Pennsylvania, made my skin a bit dryer than usual, and I had to compensate with more moisturizer for the first few days I spent back East.

Your skin may react differently depending on the climate into which you travel and the water with which you wash at that location. Plane cabins may exacerbate dryness as well. All of this should not prove to be a big problem because judicious application of the Regimen should keep you clear. Simply adjust the amount of moisturizer you use if your skin becomes dryer than it is at home. If your skin becomes oilier than usual, simply stay consistent with the amount of moisturizer you use, and wait it out for a few days. Your skin should get back to normal quickly. Do not stop using moisturizer. The shock to your skin caused by removing the moisturizer step of the Regimen may cause a breakout. If for whatever reason an unexpected breakout starts to rear its head, stay calm. The best remedy is to get super strict with your Regimen application and you should be back to normal in no time.

Hey you guys. I’m writing up a new irritation page. It should be interactive and fun. I need your input tho if you have experience in these areas:

Chinstraps: For those of you who wear helmets with chinstraps, is there anything you have found that you can do to reduce the irritation? For example…put a tissue between the strap and your skin, or something like that? I obviously can’t ask people to not use helmets, so I’m hoping to provide advice on how to limit chin strap irritation.

Hair products: Lots of gels/mousses/hairsprays tend to irritate the skin. I do not use hair product, and don’t have a lot of experience in this area. I’m looking into it further, but in the meantime, do you guys know of any hair products that are specifically aimed at acne-prone people? Alternately, do you have ideas on how people can use alternative and safe products so they can still make awesome styles while staying confident that the products won’t irritate?


We all know that irritation can aggravate acne. This is most assuredly not a myth. It’s a widely accepted, and quite frankly, obvious truth to many of us who pay close attention to it. For instance, pretty much every time I get sick or have bad allergies, I will break out around my nose because I blow my nose so much, thus irritating the skin around that area. Also, pretty much every time I wear a tight hat for more than a day I will get little breakouts around my hair line where the hat squeezes into my skin.

We can’t avoid irritation altogether, but simply becoming aware of it helps empower us to keep as clear as we can. The list I currently have on regarding irritation includes:

– picking
– tight hats
– resting your face in your hands
– helmets and chin straps
– cell phones
– napkins

I think we can come up with a more filled out list however. Here are the ones I’m going to add. Please reply with your suggestions as well.

– frequent nose blowing
– trying on clothes (the collars can rub against your face as you put them on and take them off)

What else?

Right now, the product bottles are nice and clean with lots of white space. Aesthetically speaking I think they’re beautiful. But yesterday, Kent had a brainstorm which I think is genius. Ever come across an idea that is so simple it makes you wonder why you haven’t always been doing it? Well, I was complaining to him that it’s hard for me to get people to follow the Regimen precisely sometimes. His response:

Why not print the long form of the regimen instructions right on the bottles?

That way the detailed Regimen is always with you, always in the bathroom, and always there if you need a refresher. People who only take a cursory glance at the Regimen on before buying products will have better instructions as well. Heck, we could even give products to friends or family members and they could start the Regimen right away without having to visit

Is this a “duh!” idea or what!? Like, “duh, why haven’t we been doing this?”

The only potential downside is that some or much of the white space on the bottles might be filled in with instructions. However, I think we can design it so that the products not only remain beautiful, but achieve added interest. I’m working on mocking it up.

Also, while I’m at it, I am going to remove the big “ACNE.ORG” from the bottles. A bunch of you guys have asked that we do that, and this could be an opportunity to change that.

Unless you guys have strong feelings against this, I think it could be a really beneficial thing for a lot of people. Let me know what you think.

I’ve been soaking in some rays in my back yard for the last couple of weeks. I wear a hat so I don’t expose my face and neck too much, but my body is exposed.

At any rate, bear with me, this might get a little yucky, but I’ve been lazy and not covering the outdoor wood chair I sit in with a towel. It’s been pretty warm too so I tend to sweat. The combo of the hard surface directly against the moist skin on my back caused some irritation and I found myself beginning to break out a bit on my back. The breakout may have been partially due to the sun exposure as well.

I decided to go on 100% attack! Last night I loaded on BP (2 pumps on each side of my back), waited 15 minutes for it to dry, and generously applied AHA.

Literally overnight my emerging breakout subsided to almost nothing. It just reminded me how powerful the severe back acne regimen really is. It also reminded me how important it is to be generous with product application.

Just thought I’d share. I had only a small emerging breakout – perhaps 3 or 4 small zits and some very small comedones. People who have more severe acne should not expect complete overnight clearing. However, even severe back acne should respond quickly and dramatically.

Because the skin on the back is so thick and tough, feel free to go full strength from day one should you decide to try it out.

I love instant gratification 🙂

It’s raining today, so I guess no sun today…

Hey you guys. I’ve been tossing around the idea of making a Regimen iPhone app so people can time the Regimen steps, read the Regimen instructions on their iPhones, or even do the regimen in real time right with me.

iphone app sample screen iphone app sample screen
iphone app sample screen iphone app sample screen

Do you think you would use this? Or do you think people who don’t already know of would find it helpful?

Ultimately, I’m looking to at least make an iPhone-friendly version of But an app in particular? Thumbs up? Thumbs down?

P.S. I’ll try to include other smartphones other than the iPhone in any final decisions.