Shaving Cream AcneHistorically, soap was used as shaving cream. Soap remained the mainstay in shaving technology for centuries, until the mid 20th century when modern chemistry introduced us to the products we see in drugstores today which combine cleansing ingredients with soothing emollients (moisturizers, oils). I’ve personally always shaved using the lather from a gentle cleanser as shaving cream and been happy with it. But I know a lot of guys like to use a modern shaving foam/gel/cream, so I decided to launch an experimentation–try as many shaving preparation products as I can and see if there is a good one out there to recommend. I tried 12 products over the past several months, and made sure to include a variety of foams, gels, and creams.

Foams/Gels (come in metal pressurized cans): These are normally made with stearic acid and/or palmitic acid (used in soap making), triethanolamine (a “surfactant” a.k.a. cleanser), and an emollient (a moisturizing agent such as glycerin). They all provided me with a good shave, but I tended to prefer the foams over the gels. Almost all shaving foams and gels are made with high amounts of stearic acid or palmitic acid. From what I have learned in cosmetic ingredient classes, frequent use of these ingredients at high concentrations can negatively affect the skin’s barrier. In my product testing, I personally noticed that the stearic/palmitic acid shaving foams and gels left my skin with a slight but disconcerting sting. While I do appreciate the intense foaming these ingredients provide, I recommend that acne-prone people avoid using products with high concentrations of these powerful foaming agents.

Creams (come in pump bottles and tubes): Since stearic and palmitic acid were a dealbreaker with all of the foams and gels, that left me with creams. Some creams also contain stearic/palmitic acid, albeit usually further down on the ingredient list which indicates they are used at a lower concentration. The creams which gave me the most comfortable shave without a stinging afterfeel happened to be the two which did not contain these ingredients–Kiss My Face Moisture Shave and Neutrogena Men Skin Clearing Shave Cream. The Kiss My Face cream, however, contains coconut oil as the 6th ingredient which may or may not present an issue for acne-prone skin. When dermatologists tested ingredients on rabbit ears for comedogenic (pore clogging) potential, coconut oil presented as a 4 (out of 5). While these comedogenicity tests are imperfect in several ways, nonetheless I personally choose to avoid ingredients above a 3 on comedogenicity tests unless they are listed far down on a product’s ingredient list. That leaves us with the Neutrogena Men Skin Clearing Shave Cream. It contains 1% salicylic acid and is advertised as “Skin Clearing”. Salicylic acid, while it is FDA approved as an acne medication and thus allows retailers to claim “skin clearing” in their marketing, in reality will not do a great deal to help clear acne. However, the nominal amount in this product should not present any problems. It would be my pick if I were to shave with an over-the-counter shaving prep product.

Still the best is: After my product trials, I find that I am still the happiest when shaving with the lather from the Acne.org cleanser. Since I would rather people not add in external variables to the Regimen, I still strongly urge people to shave with the lather from an approved cleanser (Acne.org Cleanser, Clean & Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser, Purpose Gentle Cleanser or Basis Sensitive Skin Bar/Purpose Cleansing Bar if money is tight and you must). Simple cleanser, which was the mainstay of shaving technology for centuries, is still the safest, most effective option I have come across. If lots of people on Acne.org review the Neutrogena Men Skin Clearing Shave Cream and give it the green light, that could be a nice option as well. I’ve gone ahead and added this Neutrogena product to the reviews pages. If you have tried it, please leave your feedback.

For years, one of the drugstore cleansers I recommended was Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash. It has a strong scent, but it does the trick. Then, a member emailed me and let me know that it is the same exact product as Clean & Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser, Sensitive Skin. Both are by Johnson & Johnson. Well, lo and behold, it is.

Companies sometimes package the exact same product under different brands. In some cases, like in this case, they charge significantly different amounts. In this case $.30-$.40 per ounce difference.

Since I understand that perception is everything, I can’t come down on these companies for giving consumers what they want, but I can point it out, just so we know never to pay more for the same product! If you are currently using Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash, you may as well switch over.

We’re getting ready to fill the new, improved moisturizer. It should be for sale sometime in mid September if all goes well.

Overview: I tell people if it’s not the best moisturizer they’ve ever tried, I’m not happy. Usually it does end up being the best they’ve tried. I have seldom felt so confident about any product release. I have been using it for about six months very diligently every evening and have not found any issues in the short term or long term. I have also sent out about 100 samples and received lots of responses. Feedback is almost entirely positive, with some people begging me for more. I think you guys are going to be completely in love. I’m bursting at the seams waiting to get it out to you guys.

What’s different about it: It has a completely new ingredient list, carefully chosen for non-comedogenicity as well as effectiveness and gentleness. I chose to rebuild it from the ground up in order to completely resolve the old issue of stinging that some people experienced. This issue should be completely resolved with this new formula. It also has none of the “tack” that people sometimes experienced with the old moisturizer. In other words, it will not leave an afterfeel. Your skin should just feel great.

It just goes on smoothly and absorbs quickly. The new formula is slightly thicker than the old formula due to the new ingredients. This thicker feel takes a little getting used to and requires a bit of extra care during application to avoid irritation.

It contains licochalcone, the licorice root extract we use in the AHA+, and is thus has a yellow color. This yellow color does not show on the skin. As many of you know, I love licochalcone for how it soothes and calms acne-prone skin.

Lastly, the new moisturizer is best when used generously. I recommend two full pumps. It is so good that in my experience it actually improves my skin, both my skin’s ability to stay perfectly clear as well as my skin’s overall feel and tone. I’m going to want everyone to be generous with it and receive all its benefits.

Price: I’m pricing out each ingredient now, and as always I’ll charge as little as I can. Some of the new ingredients are expensive–licochalcone in particular–but you guys have been asking for me to put it into the moisturizer for years now, and I agree that it’s worth it. The price will almost certainly need to go up from the previous formula, but I will do everything I can to price it affordably.

Pros: It has a very light feel to it and feels good going on. I really enjoyed its “payoff” as they call it in the cosmetics industry–it’s been formulated to really feel nice upon application.

Cons: Small bottle (25mL, .8oz) is gone before you know it. Dries white in patches. This whiteness goes away after moisturizing, but the whiteness can come back after perspiring, much like other creamy lotion based BP.

Bottom Line: Superior to Neutrogena On-The-Spot, Inferior to a gel based benzoyl peroxide.

Recommended: Yes. If you’re in Canada and need a 2.5% BP in a bind, this one will work fine.

Review Spectro AcneCare 2.5% benzoyl peroxide

I called Olay again today to bug them about when the Classic Gentle Formula SPF15 with zinc was going to reach store shelves, if ever. The representative with whom I spoke let me know the product is now officially available for all retailers to purchase across the United States and it is shipping to those who have ordered it. She also said she herself just saw it last night at her North Florida Walmart while shopping for her family.

Any of you guys spot it yet?

She also said if you do not see it at your local pharmacy or retailer to request it from the manager. The more people who ask for it to be stocked, the more likely the manager will order it for that particular location.

I’m thinkin’ we should get this available on drugstore.com again too. I think we can make it happen if we all join in. I called and spoke to the Drugstore.com marketing department and they are taking it under consideration, but they communicated that the more of us they hear from the better. You can use this link to request that they start selling this product. Tips on how to fill out the form:

Name of product: Olay Complete All Day UV Moisturizer – Sensitive Skin
Category: Personal Care
What makes this product so great: [Mention that you preferred the original Olay Complete formula here]

Thanks!

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.

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. Acne.org 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’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…

A member emailed me asking me to try this product as a possible drugstore brand low-percentage benzoyl peroxide. My review:

The good: It is a gel that goes on clear. I much prefer gel based BP to cream based because gel based does not turn white when you perspire, and is easier to apply. It also has a nice fragrance–not an added fragrance, but just a nice scent from the ingredients in the product. Next, it is a 2% benzoyl peroxide, which is close to the 2.5% that I recommend. Studies have only been performed on 2.5% in comparison to higher percentages. 2.5% works just as well as higher percentages, but does 2%? I’m not certain, but my guess is that it probably does the trick. It comes in a 1oz. tube which, while still small, is still slightly larger than Neutrogena On-The-Spot.

The bad: The biggest drawback of this BP is that it gets gloopy when moisturizer is applied on top of it. I found the combination of this BP and moisturizer to be pretty yucky. Unfortunately, it was so bad that it really was a dealbreaker. The 1oz. size ($5.99 retail) is very small considering the amount of BP that is required to keep the skin clear. Using this BP with the Regimen could get very costly. Next, it is quite a thick consistency which makes it a little tough to apply. I would love to see it made in a thinner consistency.

The bottom line: I do not recommend this product for use with the Regimen because it does not seem to work well with moisturizer, is overly thick, and comes in a small size. However, if you can find a moisturizer that works well with it, take extra care to apply it very gently, and can afford the cost, it may be OK in a pinch.