Green Tea in Skincare

We use licochalcone, a Chinese licorice root extract, in Acne.org Moisturizer and Acne.org AHA+ (10% glycolic acid). This is what gives both products their characteristic yellow color. I chose licochalcone because it is powerfully calming to the skin and works especially well on irritated, acne-prone skin. It targets inflammation and has antioxidant properties and has proven its efficacy over the years that it has worked so well within the Acne.org line of products. However, it is extremely expensive ($6000 per kilogram), and some people don’t love the yellow color it imparts. Because it is such a specialized ingredient, we are also at the mercy of cyclical weather changes and potentially unreliable harvests in the few places where this particular species of licorice is grown.

For these reasons, I have kept my eye out for another comparable calming ingredient with research to back up its use on acne-prone skin. Green tea, or more particularly, the major polyphenol within green tea called EGCG, is one of the strong top contenders. I have been intrigued with green tea for several years now, but the more I look into it the more I’m liking what I’m seeing. Researchers performed two more studies within the last two years on EGCG and its effect on acne, both with promising results. The data is showing that EGCG not only produces anti-inflammatory effects, but may also help reduce skin oil (sebum) production.

Any change to Acne.org products takes lots of time to study, mock up, and ultimately implement, and I am still not 100% convinced that I can’t find anything even better than EGCG, but I’m intrigued to say the least.

References:

  • Im M, et al. “Epigallocatechin-3-gallate suppresses IGF-I-induced lipogenesis and cytokine expression in SZ95 sebocytes.” Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2012; 132(12): 2700-8.
  • Yoon JY, et al. “Epigallocatechin-3-gallate improves acne in humans by modulating intracellular molecular targets and inhibiting P. acnes.” Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2013; 133(2): 429-40.

unnamedThere are two things that dull razor blades: (1) water, and to a lesser extent (2) simply using the blade. What causes the most damage is oxidation from water, but blades also get microscopic nicks in them from the act of shaving itself.

I’ve been experimenting with methods of keeping my razor blades dry for about a year now. I’ve tried keeping them dry by rubbing them on a towel after I’m finished shaving, rubbing them several times against denim like a few YouTube videos suggested, and always keeping the razor in a sunny window so it stays dry.

Nothing works. My razor blades still get dull after about two weeks.

Last week, my friend’s cousin’s husband came over to the office to say hi. Good ideas can come from the most interesting of places ;) He pulled me aside and said he’s been putting his razor in jojoba oil after each shave and his razor blade is staying sharp for months at a time.

I started doing this a few days ago. I don’t know if it’s going to work yet, but the shave itself is extra nice with jojoba oil coating the entire blade. Have any of you guys tried putting your razor into oil (jojoba oil or any other oil)? If so, how has it worked for you?

In all the years I’ve been researching acne, I’ve consistently read in most dermatology texts, “there is no cure for acne.” Until a few years ago, I echoed this prevailing wisdom in my writing for Acne.org. However, during my rewrite of Acne.org for our mobile-friendly web site–which is coming soon–I decided to start referring to Accutane (isotreinoin) as a “cure” more plainly in certain circumstances. This is not to say that I feel any differently than I ever have about Accutane. My personal opinion is that it is best left for more severe cases of acne, especially if one tends to scar.

Merriam-Webster defines cure as “a complete or permanent solution or remedy.” This is what Accutane provides for the majority of people who take it. Clinical research shows long-term remission of acne symptoms in approximately 2/3 of people who take an adequate dosage (1mg/kg). Therefore, I feel it is time for me to plainly use the word “cure” in certain circumstances when referring to Accutane, while at the same time noting that it cures most people, but not all people.

A still unanswered question?: I do not recall reading any studies on Accutane (isotretinoin) which follow up with participants past the five year mark, checking in on remission. If any of you have read a study like this, please contact me to let me know. If we do not have good data on this, then we cannot comment with complete certainty on long-term remission. However, anecdotally, based on years of input from Acne.org members, the effects of Accutane tend to be permanent.

A note on the permanency of Accutane: The permanency of Accutane is a reflection of the drug’s power, but also brings urgency to the need to consciously enter into a careful decision-making process alongside a trusted physician if you decide to pursue Accutane treatment.

The L’Oreal go 360 Clean is a product that came out recently which has a scrubber that pops out which you can then use to scrub the cleanser into your skin. I tried it, and much like the Clarsonic, Wavesonic, and Olay ProX, it is fun to use, but creates unnecessary irritation. No matter how soft a scrubber is, it is no match for your bare hands.

To make matters worse, the second ingredient in this particular cleanser is Sodium Laureth Sulfate. While Sodium Laureth Sulfate is not as drying as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, and can be a welcome addition to a cleanser if it is lower in the ingredient deck, the addition of Sodium Laureth Sulfate as the second ingredient is a concern. Dry skin is irritated skin, and especially if you are trying to clear up acne, you want to use only very gentle, non-overdrying cleansers.

But hey, props to L’Oreal for making such a fun product. If someone is not acne-prone, it could be a fun diversion to a daily cleansing routine.

I’ve been saying for years never to use a washcloth because it can be irritating. The same holds true for hand held cleansing devices. I tried a few of them recently and while I do have to admit that they are quite fun to use, the irritation they present is unwelcome when it comes to acne-prone skin types. If you want exfoliation and like how a hand held device physically exfoliates, a better option is chemical exfoliation. 10% alpha hydroxy acid will exfoliate without the irritation and will improve the texture of acne-prone skin. My strong advice: leave cleansing to bare hands, and never use a device, washcloth or otherwise, to wash.

Acne.org is now listed in one of the main textbooks given to pharmacy students, The Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs, amongst “selected sites that appear to provide accurate information.” I’m partly excited and partly wondering why it took them so long.