10% AHA is in my experience an amazing spot treatment. Many agree. It is also fantastic for body acne, and along with the regular regimen, can wipe out body acne in a lot of people. See this link for more on that. Since Alpha Hydrox brand AHA can be hard to find and since I think I can make a specific version for acne prone individuals, I asked one of our formulators to mix up a batch of 10% alpha hydroxy, while avoiding any comedogenic ingredients, and mixing in some of the potent anti-inflammatories that are out these days. I got the sample this morning. I didn’t like it. It was too thick feeling and rubbed in too fast actually. I got back to them with my comments and they are redoing it for us. But anyway, just so you guys know, I am working on this as well.

Still trying my SA product in the mornings: I hardly even want to say it just in case I jinx it, but after an initial 3 non-inflamed comedones my skin has gone back to clear and quite frankly is looking really good. It feels healthy and I’m perfectly clear of anything active whatsoever. (Fingers crossed that I don’t wake up tomorrow with a zit! lol)

Another thing that’s interesting is my skin is quite flaky, but in a different way from benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid is keratolytic–meaning it removes the top layers of skin cells. At first I thought the medication itself was balling up, and I still think it is to some degree, but I now think much of the continued flaking I’m experiencing is simply my top layer of skin goin’ bye-bye. It is a distinctly different feeling from the flakiness I get with benzoyl peroxide. It makes sense that if this peeling is also occuring on follicle walls that the walls of the follicle will have a tougher time becoming stuck together and leading to a microcomedone in the first place.

Wikinomics: I am still reading this incredible book. I am bursting with excitement with how we can bring collaborative Web technology to Acne.org and allow all of us to pool our intelligence. Wow. Great stuff.

I’m getting a little worried. I have a few tiny zits, one close to my nose, and two under my lips. They are not inflamed, so that’s good, but they shouldn’t be there at all. I have been using only my new salicylic acid in the morning, and still using the BP at night. I’ll keep you guys posted, but I want to use only a Regimen that keeps me completely clear, so the bar is set very high.

In a bigger picture framework, nothing ever seems to work as well as the Regimen. I have tried countless things over the years and every single time I go back to the Regimen. At some point you would think I’d give up and just do the Regimen, but for some reason I can’t stop experimenting. This is probably because I don’t want to use the Regimen forever! My dad still breaks out and is 60 years old, so the prospect of using the Regimen for another 30 years is tiring :)

So, I get my hopes up each time I try something new and they are consistently dashed. But I remain positive and forward thinking. Perhaps the SA product will work. I’ll keep trying for a while. Even if it doesn’t work, if we can get some collaborative technology implemented on Acne.org, we’ll be able to pool the collected learning of all of us, alongside the best minds in medicine, and perhaps come up with alternatives to the Regimen that also work 100% or close to it. Alternately, we may simply discover that the Regimen is the best we’ve got right now. In a worst case scenario, hopefully we can at least come up with alternate Regimens that work well enough so that people who are allergic to BP can use something that approximates the success of a precisely performed benzoyl peroxide Regimen.

For some reason I can’t stop changing the homepage :) But I think it keeps getting better. I know you probably don’t care, but humor me and let me know what you think of it this way if you get a chance. I moved the Mission Statement up to the top, changed it from yellow to blue, and put a shadow behind it. Then I moved the Community up and moved the Regimen down. I also coupled the products with the Regimen in the same box. When I say “I”, I of course mean “Joel and I” since Joel makes it all happen.

I’ve been using the SA each morning. I haven’t had the guts to give up BP at night. I just don’t feel like breaking out. So I’m wading into this slowly. So far so good. My skin looks nice and clear. But it almost always looks nice and clear for the first few days after I go off of BP twice a day and then wham-o. So I’m cautiously optimistic. The formula also feels good. It seems to have a nice calming effect, which makes sense since it has potent anti-inflammatories and sebum reducers in it. On the downside it kinda balls up after application. I’ll have to get them to fix that. Also as I’ve said, it’s a tad thick. What I mean by that is that even though it feels nice and creamy going on, it takes too long to smear it all into the skin. Bottom line is I want it to absorb faster, which I think will require a simple change in the emolients.

Oh yeah, and off the subject of the SA, I hired an operations manager. I don’t want anyone to have titles, but that’s for ease of description this is pretty much what she’s doing. She has 25 years of experience in office management and operations. I can’t even tell you how much this is appreciated. I have been flyin’ solo for years and it’s a glorious feeling to have someone else around to help out. Warning: Read on only if you’re interested in my own personal crap :-) For instance, I have found that since switching to our new distributor down in L.A. two months ago that we have been losing mass amounts of money on shipping charges every week. After my own investigations, I can’t figure it all out, so I asked her yesterday to dig into it and totally take it over. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders to not have to handle stuff like this alone. Once she gets up to speed and can tackle these kinds of crises, I can devote more of my time to big picture stuff like how to get everyone involved in content creation and such. So, I’m all smiles pretty much :-)

People will sometimes ask me what they can do aside from the Regimen for their skin. I have nothing to tell them really, and that’s frustrating. Some people are allergic to benzoyl peroxide or just don’t like it for whatever reason and I’d rather give them another option. Selfishly, I’d like an acne treatment that I could use myself that can be performed more quickly and does not bleach fabric. So, I’ve been formulating a salicylic acid product since I went to New York in December and met some genius formulating people. I tried to pool all of their best inventions and information and came up with a salicylic acid product that might, I repeat might, be pretty awesome. I only got it this morning, so who knows. But here’s why at least on paper this stuff is very cool.

1. It has 2% salicylic acid in it. 1 1/2% is run of the mill, pore unclogging stuff. Then there’s 1/2% encapsulated salicylic acid in there that releases slowly over a period of several hours. So we’ve got a burst of salicylic acid followed by a longer acting form.

2. We added antimicrobials (bacteria killers) in there. Since there is no benzoyl peroxide in this formulation, I wanted to add in other antimicrobials that will do the trick. Nothing will kill bacteria as well as benzoyl peroxide, but we added in three other antimicrobials along with a penetration enhancer. Penetration is a lot of the reason why benzoyl peroxide is so great. It gets into the skin and kills bacteria. A lot of other antimicrobials can’t get down there. With the addition of three separate antimicrobials and a penetration enhancer, I’m hoping we can replicate some of the efficacy of benzoyl peroxide insofar as killing P. Acnes bacteria goes.

3. Next, I asked them to put in anti-inflammatories. A lot of times you will see “extracts” in products, but this is sometimes just for show. Companies often put so little of these anti-inflammatory extracts that they’re not doing anything. For the extracts to work, you have to put in a good amount of them so they are efficacious. Inflammation is usually the final stage in an acne lesion’s formation. It occurs when a pore’s wall breaks and white blood cells rush in. In this formulation, we’re putting efficacious amounts of anti-inflammatory extracts in there so in the event that a lesion develops to this point, we can still fight the inflammation and redness.

4. Finally, we’ve got sebum (oil) reducers in here. Once you unclog pores (salicylic acid), kill the bacteria (antimicrobials), and address inflammation (efficacious anti-inflammatories), you want to make sure the cycle of acne itself is diminished. Sebum reducers in the formula can reduce the amount of sebum produced in the first place. It is theorized that overproduction of sebum may be a causal factor in acne in the first place.

So I’m excited about this, but still cautious. I’m also not crazy about the idea of going off the Regimen again to try something else out, but I did not do the Regimen this morning and instead just used this new product I designed. It’s a little too thick for my taste, so I’m going to ask them to work on that, but overall my skin feels pretty squeaky clean. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I just got my latest check from drugstore.com and it was $569 over what I need for bandwidth this month. I don’t know why people have been clicking through to drugstore.com and ordering more stuff, but this rocks. I needed the extra money to pay for past months where I had to cover some of the bandwidth myself, but with another couple months like this one and I’ll be caught up. Y’all rock! Thanks.

I got the latest sample in the mail today. First the good parts: It feels so good going on it’s a joke. It’s like liquid silk and it goes on clear and fast. It also takes care of flakiness as it should. It also has no scent but in a good way. Let me explain. Lots of “unscented” products still have a scent of whichever ingredients are in the product. This moisturizer is no different. It has a very slight scent, but the scent is pleasing and something I could really get used to.

One last bad part: It still feels like I’ve got something on my skin after I apply it. I could describe it as a mild tackiness/stickiness. Brandy, our Regimen Assistance person, and Joel, our webmaster, didn’t notice this, but I do. So I’m sending it back to the formulator again. I hope this tackiness issue can be resolved in short order. In the meantime, I have a second formulator working on the project. So, onward and upward!

Something I find very cool about running a business is being able to affect the sustainability policies of partner companies. Sustainability basically means fulfilling our needs today without jeopardizing the health and well being of future generations. It is a huge movement in business and I believe the way business will be performed in the future. I was active in environmental organizations in college and remain committed to working in that area. After all, when I think about it, I’m part of nature.

I have been diligent lately about requesting written environmental statements from partner companies. A friend of mine who works at a local business school that concentrates on sustainable business suggested I do this. I’ve found it is a great way to express my concern and get them involved. I received the first statement from our fulfillment house and posted it here.

I’ve been interviewing people for the Administrative Manager position and I’ve talked to some amazing people. I’m consistently surprised at the level of intelligence out there. Maybe it’s just that I’m not all that intelligent :) But for real, not only have the candidates been experienced and qualified, they are cool people who share my vision of getting the community involved and heading for people over profit. So I am excited to see what two of us working full time can get done.