vitamin DI feel like it’s a good idea for me to mention this at least once per winter. Tons of people are deficient in vitamin D, especially now that a lot of us are using SPF more regularly. Our bodies are perfectly designed to get vitamin D through sun exposure on the skin, so well designed in fact that if you get enough sun exposure during the summer, your body will hold on to its vitamin D and use it all winter. However, if you are light skinned and didn’t end up getting 10-20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure per day during the summer or if you are darker skinned and didn’t get a bare minimum of 20-60 minutes of unprotected sun exposure per day, you may need to supplement with a vitamin D pill this winter. To know for sure you need your doc to check your levels.

Vitamin D helps in wound healing, cell differentiation, and in moderating inflammation, 3 things that are important to acne sufferers. While there is little published research attempting to link vitamin D levels to acne, it can’t hurt to make sure your levels are in the acceptable range. I would love to see more research on this in the future.

I am light skinned and I try to get unprotected sun exposure during the summer whenever I can, but I work during the day and very often don’t get the time in the sun that I like. The last time I had my vitamin D levels checked they were right on the line between acceptable and deficient, so I take a 10,000iu vitamin D pill a few times a week during the winter. 10,000iu is the upper limit recommended by the Vitamin D Council per day. Your body can produce 10,000iu – 25,000iu in a day of moderate sun exposure. When taking vitamin D, look for D3, which almost all leading authorities recommend over D2, and as always, if you have specific medical issues, be sure to talk to your doctor before supplementing.

The ZIIT MethodI haven’t mentioned The ZIIT Method on the blog recently, but it warrants occasional mention. It’s pretty amazing. This is a method you would use if you want to do absolutely everything you can to prevent a zit from forming. It includes taking zinc and an NSAID like Ibuprophen to reduce inflammation, icing the zit, and spot treating with both 2.5% benzoyl peroxide and 10% glycolic acid.

Because my skin is normally completely clear from The Regimen, I don’t have to use this method often, but on rare occasions when I do get a zit and I have a wedding to go to or something big like that, I’ll employ The ZIIT Method. Every time I do, I’m surprised at how well it works. As long as I catch a zit early, I can blast it with The ZIIT Method and eradicate it. It’s kinda fun. Try it out and see for yourself. If you do try it, please take a minute to review it here as well. I’d welcome more feedback from you guys on The ZIIT Method.

zinc pillIt’s so easy to forget to take a vitamin. I try to take one 30mg zinc pill per day to keep inflammation down in my body and help with my acne-prone skin. While I am completely clear from The Regimen, I still like the idea of using zinc to help calm everything down from the inside out. Multiple studies point toward a 40% reduction in acne symptoms from regular zinc supplementation. In my own completely subjective and anecdotal case, my skin is calmer when I remember to take the zinc pill on a regular basis.

However, zinc is the only pill I’ve been taking lately because I’ve been getting my omega-3s from wild fish and sushi, and remembering to take just one vitamin can be hard. I looked around online for tips on how to remember to take a pill each day, and to be honest they all sound a little over the top. Tape it to your toothbrush? Seriously?! The one simple suggestion that I did like was to just make it a habit and pick a time of day to always do it. I think I’ll choose with breakfast and see if I can get more regular with it.

You can buy zinc at any Walgreens or CVS or from countless vendors online. Just make sure to get zinc gluconate. From what we can tell, this is the best form. 30mg should be a good dose because we get zinc from food as well and you don’t want to get too crazy with it.

Also, as I’ve mentioned before, a fun way to forgo the pill and still get a ton of zinc is to eat oysters. Oysters have far more zinc than any other food. Eating just 3 raw oysters gives you around the same 30mg that you’d get from a pill.

magazineI’ve noticed over the years that anything I read about acne in magazines is usually replete with errors and terrible misinformation. I’m at my dad’s house for a few days right now and my step mother gets Fitness magazine. The cover claims “Clear Skin Breakthroughs That Really Work.” I had to crack it open and read it. Their advice boils down to using salicylic acid and perhaps staying away from milk. Wow. Such bad advice. First of all, anyone who researches acne to any degree knows that salicylic acid is very weak at controlling breakouts. The legal limit for salicylic acid products is 2% and at this concentration it does very little if anything to help clear the skin. And milk has been associated with breakouts in only very limited, confusing studies based on people recalling what they ate many years previously. This evidence is so flimsy that the authors in The Journal of Clinics in Dermatology concluded, “Our conclusion, on the basis of existing evidence, is that the association between dietary dairy intake and the development of acne is slim.”

unnamed-2I could go on and on here picking apart the deep horrendousness of this one supposed “Clear Skin Ahead” article as it is titled inside the magazine, but suffice it to say that this article will do nothing for anyone other than cause them frustration and confusion. This is true of upwards of 90% of other articles I have read in major magazines over the years. Can you tell I’m mad? Well, I am. Ok, I just have to quote one more thing from this article. Haha. Keep in mind that almost every journalist who has ever interviewed me has misquoted me, so I’m not dogging the doctor here. But they quote a doctor saying, “sweat and bacteria left on the skin after a workout can be a breeding ground for breakouts…” The reality is that bacteria on the surface of the skin has zero to do with acne. Zero. It is bacteria deep within the skin which causes acne. Far from clearing things up for the readers of Fitness magazine, this quote just reinforces yet another myth about acne.

Bottom line: Don’t believe pretty much anything you read in magazines about acne. And to extrapolate, don’t believe pretty much anything you read in magazines period.


One of the worst things anyone can do for acne is to harshly wash the skin. Unfortunately, people with acne tend to default to scrubbing their skin. A recent study published in the International Journal of Dermatology found 42.7% of people washing their face “excessively,” 28.7% washing “vigorously,” and 14% washing “until I cannot detect sebum (skin oil) at all.” The researchers concluded, “This study showed that our patients may be making a great deal of errors…To effectively treat and prevent further breakouts, appropriate skin care is imperative in patients with acne.”

It is hard for me to read results like this because I just know that these people are doing themselves much more harm than good by washing in a harsh manner. Acne-prone skin is sensitive to irritation, and over-washing the skin, or scrubbing the skin when washing, produces high amounts of irritation which can keep people firmly stuck in a vicious cycle of acne.

Do yourself a huge favor and wash extremely gently with your bare hands for 10 seconds or less.

cleansing devicesI’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.

Non-inflamed acne is acne that stays under the surface and does not get red at all. Some people talk about it by saying their skin has a “pebbly” appearance or that when they stretch their skin they can see lots of white bumps. Non-inflamed acne is also often accompanied by blackheads.

If you have this type of acne, I do think the regular Daniel Kern Regimen is worth a shot. It can be brilliant at preventing future blackheads. However, if you’ve tried the DKR without the results you’d like to have, Laura’s regimen may be worth exploring.

Laura is an esthetician in the Bay Area who I have met several times and interviewed. She has a protocol for non-inflamed acne that is interesting. I’d like to hear how it works for people. You can find it here.

If you try it, please post your review/experience on the blackheads and non-inflamed acne forum.