Tried, Reviewed, Recommended: Glytone Acne Kit

Glytone Acne Kit

In terms of growing up, I think 1997-1998 were big years for me. There were the Backstreet Boys, N*SYNC, and Britney Spears. UConn and Kentucky were the teams in the NCAA tournament. (And two of my faves). And I was in love with Neutrogena skin care at the time that featured copper peptides, which has since been discontinued.

In some ways, it’s been like 1997 all over again: Backstreet Boys are on tour, UConn owned that tournament earlier this year, and NEOVA is re-introducing the copper peptide. (Hallelujah!) For more on why I love this so much, read on.

Copper: Awesome

 

According to James J. Leyden, a professor of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of the School’s Skin Study Center who conducted a study on copper peptides for Johnson and Johnson, “[Copper peptides incorporated into skin care and cosmetic products is useful for improving the appearance of aging skin…Products containing GHK-Cu result in rapid improvement in skin condition, including reduction in the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, roughness, sallowness (a sickly yellowish skin color), laxity and hyperpigmentation (brown spots).

Copper peptides first came on the scene in 1988. Since that time, some studies have found that copper peptide complexes stimulate even greater procollagen synthesis than potent anti-agers like Retin-A (tretinoin) or ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Copper peptides specifically affect the synthesis of collagen 3, also called “fetal collagen,” the second most prevalent collagen type in the dermis. Comprising 15% of the dermis (collagen type I comprises 80%), collagen type III gives the skin compliance, and its levels decrease naturally with age.

Although the exact mechanism of action is not known at this time, it is known that copper is involved in the formation of the enzyme superoxide dismutase, which serves as a potent antioxidant in the skin. Copper is also essential for the enzyme lysyl oxidase, which is involved in the cross-linking of elastin and collagen, so it is possible that these are at least partially responsible for the increase in collagen synthesis.

The only issue with copper peptides occurs if you have broken skin. A 1999 study in Nature found that copper peptides activate matrix metalloproteinase-2 — enzymes that degrade collagen — only in instances of wound healing. As the study suggests, in these instances of healing, it is possible that partially breaking down tissues in order to rebuild them via matrix metalloproteinase-2 activation is actually useful.  Further, it is unknown how much copper would need to be used, or for how often, for matrix metalloproteinase-2 to be activated. I personally am in favor of collagen peptides, and support their use in this product on non-injured skin.

Still Love the DNA Repair Enzymes

Photolyase plankton diagram- FutureDerm

One of the reasons I love NEOVA Progressive Nourishing Lotion as a late-summer-to-fall product is its ability to repair UV damage, at least according to data released from company-related trials. Photolyase has been shown in company-related trials to reduce UVB radiation-induced dimers by 45% and to increase UV protection by 300% (NEOVA).  Photolyase is derived from plankton, and can be identified on skin care products as plankton extract from Anacystis nidulans.  Its job is to undo DNA damage in cells and prevent cell death caused by UV exposure.

According to Dr. Daniel Yarosh, author of The New Science of Perfect Skin, liposome-encapsulated photolyase is delivered to the skin within an hour of application.  It requires light for its activation, though any mild indoor light that passes through sunscreen should be enough for it to work properly.

On the other hand, endosomes are liposome-encapsulated and derived from the marine microbe, Micrococcus lysate.  Extremely UV-resistant, endosomes intensify the skin’s reparative properties to speed recovery reaction and reduce the appearance of post-sunburn peeling.

Collagen and Amino Acids: Just OK

Of course, this wouldn’t be a true FutureDerm review if I didn’t talk about all of my thoughts on the product, good, bad, and ugly.

Collagen included in skin care products are one of my pet peeves when people don’t understand what the ingredient does. There is a size rule in skin care: ingredients larger than 500 Daltons cannot penetrate the skin. There is controversy here — some ingredients, like very large peptides, still have been shown in peer-reviewed studies to have downright amazing effects on the skin, indicating that they must be signaling to molecules within the skin from the outside. But in the case of collagen, it is just big and large and sits outside the skin, providing hydration, just like glycerin or another humectant. It’s not going to cause your skin to produce more collagen.

Same thing goes with amino acids: this product contains eight of the amino acids (Glycine, Alanine, Proline, Serine, Threonine, Arginine, Lysine, Glutamic Acid), but these have not been shown to do anything convincingly in the skin except hydrate.

One thing I do love about NEOVA is they are honest here. They don’t claim the collagen or amino acids are going to be magically incorporated into your skin even though they are too large to penetrate it. They’re just simply listed in the ingredients, and they just simply hydrate.

Green Tea: Fantastic

Green Tea Extract

Green tea contains the polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to have remarkable preventive effects against UV light-caused mutations and skin damage in mouse models. While EGCG comprises only 50% of “green tea extract” found in skin care and cosmeceuticals (Mukhtar), there is still enough EGCG to demonstrate anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties in most skin care and cosmeceuticals.

There is some relevant data in which green tea is applied topically to human skin as well. In a 2001 study in the journal Carcinogenesis, topical application of EGCG to human skin resulted in decreased oxidative stress and an increase in antioxidant enzymes after UV irradiation. Specifically, catalase and glutathione activity were increased due to the application of EGCG. A further 2003 study in Molecular Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention found that the polyphenols in green tea prevent UVB-induced oxidation of lipids and proteins and prevents against the depletion in antioxidant enzymes experienced after UVB exposure in mouse skin.

Overall Use and Opinions

I’m a big fan of NEOVA products, because they contain a DNA repair enzyme technology that is patent-pending and therefore I can’t get my hands on it or redesign it in a lab (boo, I say, boo). That said, I was pretty excited when they came out with their new NEOVA Progressive Nourishing Lotion ($95.00, FutureDerm.com/Shop), which contains both DNA repair enzymes and copper peptide. So long as we are all under the mutual understanding the collagen and amino acids only hydrate (and the company isn’t claiming anything else), I am downright cool with this product all-around.

Product Rating: 9/10 (High concentration of proven ingredients: 3/3. Unique formulation or new technology: 3/3. Value: 3/3. Sunscreen: 0/1).

Ingredients

Water (Aqua), Cyclopentasiloxane, Petrolatum, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Phenyl Trimethicone, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Alanine/Histidine/Lysine Polypeptide Copper HCL, Lecithin, Plankton Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Tocopheryl Acetate, Soluble Collagen, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Sodium PCA, Betaine, Sorbitol, Glycine, Alanine, Proline, Serine, Threonine, Arginine, Lysine, Glutamic Acid, Allantoin, Panthenol, Xanthan Gum, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth-20, Cetyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, Sodium Acrylate/ Sodium Acryloyldimethyl TaurateCopolymer, Isohexadecane, Polysorbate 80, Polysilicone-11, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Fragrance (Parfum), Benzyl Salicylate, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool.

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3 Effective Oral Treatments for Troublesome Acne

3 Effective Oral Treatments for Troublesome Acne

Acne is one of the most pervasive skin conditions. Almost 85% of Americans are affected by acne at some point in their lives, whether during adolescence or adulthood. Because acne can be surprisingly difficult to treat, there are a variety of options available for treatment. In this post, we’ll focus on oral acne treatments.

Oral Contraceptives

Oral contraceptives are mainly prescribed to nonsmoking women under the age of 35 when they don’t see success with other acne treatments and are also in the market for contraception. Doctors have treated acne with oral contraceptives off-label for years, but the FDA has only approved three for the treatment of acne (Ortho Tri-Cyclen, YAZ, and Estrostep) because of their combinations of hormones. Each of the three contains both estrogen and progesterone.

All acne has four components. One well-known contributor is the bacteria P. acnes, but another culprit is hormone-mediated overproduction of sebum, the oil in your pores. These combine with inflammation and a build up of dead skin cells on the surface to create all of the forms of acne. Because oral contraceptives mainly influence oil production, they’re often used in combination with other treatments. Remember that it may take several months for you to see results. Some people experience no negative side effects, but others may experience depression and mood swings, migraines, hypertension, and blood clots (which are a risk for stroke), so be sure to discuss this option carefully with your doctor.

3 Effective Oral Treatments for Troublesome Acne

Oral Antibiotics

Much like topical antibiotics, oral antibiotics work to kill P. acnes, a bacteria that is one of the most common causes of acne. Different antibiotics work in different ways; for example, erythromycin kills bacteria to prevent breakouts, doxycycline slows the growth of bacteria, and clindamycin works to suppress formation of P. acnes proteins.

One antibiotic sometimes used off-label is Bactrim, a combination of trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole, which is FDA-approved for treatment of urinary tract infections, shigellosis, and acute exacerbations of chronic bronchitis. Side effects for Bactrim include joint pain, rash, insomnia, and a swollen tongue. Bactrim also contains sulfur, which many people are allergic to.

All antibiotics are serious medications and should never be taken without a personal, direct prescription and ongoing supervision from your own physician.

3 Effective Oral Treatments for Troublesome Acne

Isotretinoin

Isotretinoin is an oral form of vitamin A approved to treat severe cystic acne. It should only used as a last resort for very severe acne or acne that is causing permanent scarring. Vitamin A derivatives help to regulate the maturation and turnover of skin cells and can be very effective in acne, but side effects have led the federal government to require that patients enroll in a program called iPledge to be monitored by their dermatologists very closely. For example, among several other risks, isotretinoin can cause severe birth defects, so all women of childbearing age must get monthly blood tests and pregnancy tests and participate in monthly counseling with the dermatologist.

Other side effects of isotretinoin include dry eyes, nose, and skin; itching; nosebleeds; sun sensitivity; muscle aches; and poor night vision. It may also increase triglyceride levels in the liver and increase cholesterol. Isotretinoin is also possibly associated with an increased risk of depression and suicide, although a causal relationship has yet to be determined. Since severe acne is also associated with these risks in teens, this issue is still being studied for clarification, but anyone who has a history of depression or psychiatric issues must be cleared by a mental health professional to be in the program.

Bottom Line

Oral treatments can be an effective way to treat acne and are often used in conjunction with other types of treatments to ensure maximum effectiveness. Of course, not all oral treatments are best for everyone, and sometimes the side effects can outweigh the benefits, so be sure to discuss the above options with your doctor to see what would work best for you.

 

Contributing author: Dr. Jessica Krant

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What Causes Acne and Why Retinol Helps

retinol molecule

What Causes Acne and Why Retinol Helps

Because it’s concentrated, yet gentle, FutureDerm Time Release Retinol 0.5 is a great choice for teens and young adults with mild to moderate acne. The lightweight gel absorbs quickly into skin, so there’s no need to wait 30 minutes to apply a moisturizer. Because our product is microencapsulated, it targets retinoid receptors for a full eight hours without being irritating to skin. Apply it at night, wear a broad spectrum sunscreen during the day, and get ready to glow!

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Tretinoin, Retinol, and Retinyl Palmitate: The Key to Anti-Aging Success?

FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5

According to Dr. David E. Bank, director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, researchers discovered the anti-aging properties of Retin-A, a prescription topical treatment containing a derivative of vitamin A, in 1985, when it was first used as an acne treatment. Patients reported decrease in the appearance of wrinkles and smoother skin, in addition to a reduction in acne.

The active ingredient in Retin-A, tretinoin (brand name Renova), is the only chemical to date to receive FDA approval for anti-aging and anti-sun damage properties. According to research by Fisher et. al cited by Dr. Leslie Baumann in Cosmetic Dermatology, retinoids are effective in preventing and treating the collagen loss caused by photodamage. UV exposure decreases collagen types I and III with 24 hours, but treatment of the skin with all-trans retinoic acid prevents the loss of these types of collagen synthesis. In addition, Fisher et. al demonstrated that application of tretinoin inhibits the induction of matrix metalloproteinase genes (more here), which are in part responsible for collagen degradation.

Side effects of retinol include skin irritation, desquamation, and redness. In addition, use of vitamin A derivatives has been associated with birth defects, and so it is advisable for women who are pregnant, breast-feeding, or those who may become pregnant to avoid use of tretinoin, retinol, or retinyl palmitate. It is further notable that patients with sensitive skin should use lower concentrations of tretinoin (0.025% rather than 0.1%) or, alternatively, lower concentrations of different metabolites of vitamin A, namely retinol or retinyl palmitate. According to Dr. Baumann, retinol and retinyl palmitate should be present in concentrations of at least 0.04% to 0.07% and packaged properly (to avoid oxidation) in order to be effective, as they are in Neutrogena Healthy Skin with SPF 15 ($23.78, Amazon.com), ROC Retinol Correxion Instant Facial Smoother, and FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5, of course! :)

ROC Retinol Correxion Instant Facial Smoother

So how are retinol and retinyl palmitate related to the proven-effective tretinoin? According to Dr. Baumann, retinol is classified as a cosmetic rather than a drug because it must first be converted to retinaldehyde, and then all-trans retinoic acid within the skin in order to be effective. In general, retinol is considered to be about 20 times less potent than retinoic acid, and thus higher concentrations of retinol need to be used to achieve similar efficacy to all-trans retinoic acid (i.e., 0.04% or 0.07% versus 0.025%). However, although retinol needs to be present in higher quantities than tretinoin in order to be effective, patients typically experience lower levels of irritation using retinol products. Similarly, retinyl palmitate is a combination of pure retinol and palmitic acid (a substance typically used in cosmetics as a cleansing agent), and so it too must be converted to retinaldehyde and then all-trans retinoic acid within the skin in order to be effective. However, when present in sufficiently high concentrations, retinyl palmitate displays results similar to that of retinol. One caveat: based on information from Dr. Baumann’s site, make-up products with retinol will expire approximately one month after opening, so use accordingly.

FutureDerm Tretinoin Products Prescription

Tretinoin itself is available in five prescription formulas: Retin-A Micro (Johnson & Johnson), Renova (Johnson & Johnson), AvitaDifferin (Galderma), and Tazorac (Allergan). According to Dr. BankRetin-A Micro uses microsphere technology to allow a more sustained release of tretinoin over time. Some patients may find Retin-A Micro drying, in which case Renova, a product with tretinoin delivered in a mineral-oil base, may be recommended. A third option, Avita, is considered to be less irritating than Retin-A Micro, but without the mineral-oil base that can stimulate acne in some patients. The fourth option, Differin, contains a different chemical, adapalene, and is considered to make skin less photo-sensitive than other tretinoin products. Lastly, the newest product, Tazorac, contains tazarotene, and may be drying, but was approved by the FDA in 1997 for the treatment of acne. According to Dr. Baumann, a 2000 study by Kakita et. al found that the efficacy of tazarotene 0.1% gel is clinically comparable to 0.1% tretinoin [in Retin-A Micro] and 0.025% gel tretinoin[Renova] and adapalene 0.1% gel [Differin].

Vitamin-A derivatives are thereby considered to be excellent prevention and treatment against the signs of aging caused by ultraviolet rays. However, the effects of vitamin A derivatives on sensitive skin can be harsh. As such, provided one is not breast-feeding, pregnant, or may become pregnant, s/he should talk to their dermatologist about making the right choice of tretinoin, retinol, or retinyl palmitate for a part of their anti-aging routine on a daily basis.

 

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If Nothing Else Has Worked for Your Acne, Try LHA!

La Roche Posay Effaclar Serum

 

4 Ways to Get Rid of Acne FutureDerm ArticleThere are many different ways to treat acne:

  • Kill bacteria, P. acnes, which is responsible for acne, with oral and topical antibiotics and other chemical agents;
  • Increase cell turnover and exfoliation rates, which is often slowed in patients with acne;
  • Decrease the amount of skin cells that “stick” to one another, which causes the skin to hold onto old cells for too long (and clog up);
  • Decrease inflammation in the skin that is associated with acne.

LHA, or β-lipohydroxy acid, is an ingredient that has only been around for the past seven or eight years. It is exciting because it does all three of the above, killing bacteria (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2007); increasing cell turnover (Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 2009); and decreasing corneocyte adhesion (European Journal of Dermatology, 2002).

Who Is a Candidate for LHA?

LHA Best Uses Which Acne Cystic FutureDerm

 

LHA is best for patients with mild to moderate, non-cystic acne, who have tried other agents like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, retinol, and benzoyl peroxide in the past without luck, or who are currently using these agents but still are experiencing breakouts. Those with cystic acne are not likely to be aided much by LHA.

Which Products Contain LHA?

La Roche Posay Effaclar Serum

A limited number of products contain LHA, including:

With its high rate of exfoliation at low concentrations and neutral pH, it has a lot of potential in both anti-aging and acne-fighting skin care regimens.

What Other Ingredients Can Be Used in Conjunction with LHA?

LHA  can be used with everything FutureDerm

FutureDerm readers will probably be happy to know that LHA can therefore be used with everything from acidic vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) to retinoids (for which esterification, i.e., activation occurs at pH 5.5-6.0). This is because LHA has a slightly acidic pH that is similar to that of normal skin (5.5) and does not require neutralization for activation within the skin.

If you want to introduce LHA to an existing regimen, the best way is with a full-strength LHA serum. I recommend using a 10% salicylic acid cleanser, benzoyl peroxide on-the-spot treatment, LHA serum, and retinol or glycolic acid moisturizer to treat acne nightly.

Bottom Line

Of the ingredients premiering on the skin care market in the past few years, I feel that LHA is one of the most exciting for treating mild to moderate acne. It can be used alone, as in the La Roche Posay Effaclar System, or in conjunction with other agents to treat acne.

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Which Products are the Best for Dry Skin AND Acne?

Dry Skin and Acne Products

Recently, I received the following reader question:

Hi, I am a dry skin sufferer as well as a long-time acne sufferer. I’ve been frustrated trying to find preventative acne products that won’t further dry my skin out. Every time I find an article about dry skin AND acne, I read that my skin isn’t *really* dry – but it honestly is! I took Accutane several years ago and my skin has been on the dry side ever since. For a couple years after finishing the drug my skin was flawless, but now 5 years later, I am breaking out like crazy! Do you have any advice or product recommendations for me? Am I crazy or is it really impossible to have dry skin and acne? By the way, I am only 20 years old and I have very small pores. My breakouts are on my cheeks and chin. Finally getting rid of my acne was life changing for me. Its re-emergence is stressing me out – I want to go back to feeling confident and comfortable in my own skin! Thank you! –KR

Dear KR,

Acne and dry skin are not that uncommon, especially when you consider that some of the agents used to treat acne can be drying to the skin. Most skin care and cosmetics companies ignore this fact, instead assuming that acne and oily skin always go hand-in-hand, which could not be further from the truth.

Here are the best products for people with acne and dry skin:

Gentle, non-acidic, non-soap cleanser

You need a cleanser that is neither acidic (like most anti-acne cleansers) nor basic (like most soap cleansers). 

Nearly all skin care experts will agree that basic cleansers should not be used with dry skin. Basic cleansers, like soap, disrupt skin’s natural barrier function (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2006), leaving the skin more susceptible to infection by bacteria, including the acne-causing bacterium P. acnes, as well as inflammation associated with acne. 

Yet, going completely acidic with your cleanser isn’t the answer if you have dry skin. In general, skin care experts will tell you salicyclic acid is great for use with acne. This is because salicyclic acid increases cellular turnover and softens the keratin within the skin, resulting in fresher, more renewed skin cells with regular use.

Yet salicyclic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid, able to penetrate into the pores even more deeply than alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid, lactic acid, and malic and mandelic acids, according to Dr. Heather Brannon, M.D. The drying effect of salicylic acid, coupled with its heightened penetration into the skin, can leave dry skin types feeling parched.

So the answer? Use a pH-balanced, gentle skin cleanser. I recommend our FutureDerm Skin Reborn Facial Cleanser 8.31 ($39, FutureDerm.com/shop), which contains 8.31% SiQube®, which is designed to remove dirt and debris, and to keep pH within a healthy range in the skin.

Lactic acid treatment

Most acidic ingredients are drying for the skin when they are used in high concentration. But this is not the case with lactic acid, which is so hydrating, it is prescribed in concentrations of 12% for treatment of dry skin as AmLactin.

Lactic acid is beneficial for acne because it increases cell turnover and exfoliation rates, but it does not do so as markedly as ingredients like glycolic acid. Proof of this is in the fact that glycolic acid will temporarily thin the skin after use, whereas lactic acid will not (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 1996). So you maintain your skin’s integrity with lactic acid, resulting in less irritation and more hydration. I like Azfasst, with 6% lactic acid.

Green tea-based lightweight moisturizer

The weight of the moisturizer is where it gets tricky: you need a moisturizer that is hydrating enough to treat the symptoms of dry skin, but lightweight enough not to clog the pores. In general, the lipid to water content of the moisturizer will control its level of hydration. Many moisturizers used to treat dry skin are emollients, which means that they use lipids and oils like lanolin, paraffin, and waxes to soften the skin. Unfortunately, these ingredients can be aggravating for acne, and prevent skin from turning over at maximal efficiency.

Your best bet is to look for a moisturizer that has a lower content of lipids and oils, and more water-based ingredients. I like ProActiv Green Tea Moisturizer, shown above.

A second thing to look for in a moisturizer for dry/acne-prone skin is green tea. Green tea is an excellent ingredient for the skin that exhibits many beneficial effects, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and photoprotective properties (Cosmetic Dermatology, 2010). For acne, green tea helps to fight inflammation, including swelling and redness. For dry skin, it is soothing and has mild UV-fighting properties. (Oily skin contains trace amounts of natural vitamin E, which provides a small amount of UV protection. Dry skin tends to have less vitamin E stores).

Colloidal oatmeal based-masque

I also like colloidal oatmeal for acne and dry skin. Studies published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology suggest using colloidal oatmeal as a first-line treatment to alleviate other inflammation-based disorders such as psoriasis, eczema, and atopic dermatitis.

Benzoyl peroxide on-the-spot treatment


There’s a lot of speculation surrounding exacty how benzoyl peroxide works within the skin. One theory is that benzoyl peroxide may work by causing oxidation within the follicles of the skin, causing an eruption that gets rid of the pustule faster. While this is great for getting rid of acne quickly, it is also not-so-great for anti-aging purposes, which often use antioxidants to fight the very kind of oxidation benzoyl peroxide *may* cause.

Therefore, I like benzoyl peroxide only on the spot. Use 10%, the maximum dose, and apply it carefully to the blemish 2-3 times a day. It works. But avoid any treatments that are recommended for use all over the face — you’re just asking for trouble. 

Avoid anti-acne products with charcoal and skin care oils

If you have dry skin and acne, avoid anti-acne products with charcoal. While acne-prone skin is great with charcoal because it draws out the impurities, it can also draw out some of the skin oils that dry skin desperately needs. So avoid it.

Despite what well-meaning skin care salespeople might tell you, skin care oils should also be avoided. These oils are great for dry skin, but they will slow cellular turnover (exfoliation rates), resulting in slower skin turnover.

Want to try all of the products above for dry and acne-prone skin?

If you’d like to try all of the products listed above for dry and acne-prone skin, get the FutureDerm Recommended Dry/Acne-Prone Skin Care Kit for $199 in the Shop today!

Hope this helps!
All the best,
Nicki

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How Does Food Affect Your Skin?

How Does Food Affect Your Skin?

As I’ve talked about on the FutureDerm blog before, due to stress, fast “convenient” food, and a lack of exercise, I gained 30 pounds in 3 years. Thanks to great skin care (both other brands and, later, our own FutureDerm products), I never really noticed any wrinkling, acne, or skin sallowness changes during that time.

Still, recently, I decided that enough was enough. I started doing Bikram yoga daily, I drink a huge fresh-pressed green juice with kale, cucumber, and apple for breakfast, and I infuse each meal with a plethora of vegetables. I’ve been doing this for about a month (okay, I’m on day 35!), and I’ve lost twelve pounds. Best of all, my skin seems glowier. Which got me thinking: is there a researched link between food and your skin? Below, the best in research I could find:

The Best Diet to Fight Acne

According to dermatologist Dr. Jessica Wu, M.D., in her bestselling book, Feed Your Face, there is mounting evidence that individuals who do not consume vast amounts of sugar or dairy products get less acne. Check out these populations:

  • The Inuit (in Alaska).  Amongst Eskimos who consume a traditional diet, there is almost no acne.  However, it has been found that those who start to consume a more “American” diet, with lots of fried foods and unrefined carbohydrates, start to break out.
  • The Zulu (in Africa).  Like the Eskimos, the Zulu only started to get acne after adopting a more “American” diet.
  • Rural Brazil.  Brazilians in cities get acne at rates typical to the rest of the world.  Yet a study of nearly 10,000 preteens and teenagers found acne in rural Brazilian communities at less than 3 percent.  The likely reason?  A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, wild game, and other foraged foods – and a lack of access to flash-fried, packaged, and overly-processed foods.

acne diet table: what to eat and what to avoid

What to Avoid in the Anti-Acne Diet

  1. Limited or no dairy products;
  2. A low glycemic index (Avoid candy, sugary breakfast cereals, baked goods, cookies, pastries, and the like).
  3. A low content of iodine.

What to Eat More of in the Anti-Acne Diet

  • Foods low on the glycemic index, such as whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, and most vegetables (full lists are available, such as in the book The Glycemic Load Diet or online at Healthy Weight Forum.org);
  • Foods rich in zinc, such as red meat and lentils (zinc may decrease acne);
  • Lots of food with anti-inflammatory omega-3′s, such as fresh fish;

For complete recipes, the best books I have found with anti-acne recipes are Today show nutritionist Dr. Joy Bauer’s Food Cures, and Dr. Jessica Wu’s Feed Your Face.  As the link between nutrition and skin care grows stronger, I’m sure there will be even more great resources!

Why This Anti-Acne Diet Works

The reasons for #1 and #2 are explained in this diagram:

How dairy products and sugar influence acne

When it comes to linking milk consumption and acne, there is arguably no better source than F. William Danby at the Harvard School of Public Health. Danby and his team studied more than 47,000 women, asked to complete questionnaires relating to their diet as teenagers and to say whether they had ever been diagnosed with severe acne. The study found no link between food such as chocolate and chips and acne, but found one between women who had acne and those who had drunk a lot of milk.  Danby proposes this is due to the DHT (androgens) in the milk, which increase oil production (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2008). There are far more studies that demonstrate the effect of foods with a high glycemic index on acne.  In one particularly poignant study, people placed on a low glycemic index for 12 weeks experienced dramatic clearing of the skin – and lost three pounds on average (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007).  It seems the elevated blood sugar-insulin-androgen link to acne really is that profound. hypothyroidism, which is why salt is enriched with it in the first place.

The Best Diet to Fight Wrinkles

Thank goodness it’s (nearly) fresh produce season in the Northern Hemisphere again! (Sorry, my friends in Australia.)

I’m looking forward to visiting more farmer’s markets than ever this season. And research supports this! By ingesting more brightly colored fruits and vegetables, you not only infuse your skin with naturally UVA- and UVB-fighting antioxidants, but you also keep your blood sugar more stable than if you were eating, say, pasta or rice. This stabilization of blood sugar prevents the formation of advanced glycation endproducts like glucosepane coming and taking over your nice, supple collagen, turning it all brittle and susceptible to breakage. Yuck!

What to Avoid in the Anti-Wrinkle Diet

  1. Sugary food. By virtue of the basic logic of chemistry, the higher your blood sugar, the more sugar molecules you have forming advanced glycation endproducts, which result in the hardened, inelastic, aged collagen you see commonly in the elderly. (Also why a three-year-old’s cheek is much more elastic than an eighty-three year old’s!)
  2. White bread, pasta, and rice. According to an article by the Harvard School of Public Health, foods with a high glycemic index, like white bread, cause rapid spikes in blood sugar, while foods with a low glycemic index, like whole oats, are digested more slowly, causing a lower and gentler change in blood sugar.
  3. Anything with a glaze. Sugary glazes cause the skin to age faster, by way of advanced glycation endproducts.

What to Consume More of in the Anti-Wrinkle Diet

According to the American Chemical Society, strawberries are the best fruit for your skin.  The ACS compared the antioxidant activities of twelve common fruits via ORAC score, and the results were the following:

1.  Strawberry
2.  Plum
3.  Orange
4.  Red grape
5.  Kiwi fruit
6.  Pink grapefruit
7.  White grape
8.  Banana
9.  Apple
10.  Tomato
11.  Pear
12.  Honeydew melon

In this exciting 2006 study by the American Botanical Council, the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) score of 27 vegetables were compared, and artichokes, beetroot, cabbage, broccoli, red chicory, red chili, and yellow pepper had the highest ORAC score, indicating that these vegetables have the highest antioxidant activity. Further, according to University of Pittsburgh clinical professor of psychiatry Dr. David Servan Schrieber, M.D. Ph.D. in his book Anticancer, it is beneficial to consume inflammation-fighting mushrooms and cruciferous vegetables (e.g., cabbages, sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower), as well as vegetables rich in carotenoids/antioxidants (e.g., tomatoes, carrots, yams, squash, sweet potato, apricots, beets, and other brightly or richly colored vegetables).

Why the Science Says this Works

Antioxidant vitamins C and E are miraculous for the skin, whether eaten or topically applied to the skin. While they both work well on their own, the pair works synergistically, making them better in combination (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1995; Pakistan Journal of Physiology, 2011). Studies have shown that dietary vitamin C and E can have some UV-protective effects, resulting in less UV-damage and photoaging (British Journal of Dermatology, 2010). In fact, they’ve found that people with a high level of these antioxidants in their tissue had less premature skin aging (Experimental Dermatology, 2011). In fact, in a study of skin aging in women, low levels of vitamin C were significantly associate with skin aging (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2006).

At the same time, vitamins C and E elp boost the body’s UV protection. As I can tell you from personal experience, boosting my intake of vitamins C and E-rich vegetables from about 3-4 servings a week to about 5-6 per day, these diet-derived vitamins also give skin a warm glow in just a few weeks (PLOS ONE, 2012).

The Bottom Line

The grocery store can act as your own personal Sephora, as this study in The Journal of Skin Pharmacology and Physiology affirms that eating a beneficial ingredient is actually more beneficial than topically applying it. However, the study further suggests that topically applying beneficial ingredients (like antioxidants) and ingesting them together is most beneficial. In general, for the greatest benefit, look for brightly colored fruits and vegetables with relatively low water content, such as strawberries, kiwi fruit, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.  These dense, richly pigmented fruits and vegetables are likely to be the most rich in antioxidants.  Also look for mushrooms and cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and broccoli, which have been found to have anti-inflammatory activity. Overall, it’s hard to do wrong in the produce aisle, but a few upgrades here and there never hurt anyone!   Here are some other food-related posts you might enjoy:

What are your thoughts on eating more fruits and vegetables for your skin? Let me know in Comments below!

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A Must-Have for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin: GlamGlow Super Mud Clearing Treatment Review

GlamGlow Super Mud Clearing Treatment

Typically, I am not a fan of products that feature lots of newfangled trademarked compounds. For instance, while I love many old Peter Thomas Roth products, some of the newer ones claim to contain 10% of exotic-sounding compounds like “10% Phytomoist Qusome™” that is probably just 10% hydrating phospholipids and sphingolipids. That sort of thing.

So you can imagine my initial dismay when I came across GlamGlow SuperMud Clearing Treatment ($69.00, FutureDerm.com/Shop), which has more trademarked compounds than I could shake my head at. “Acnecidic-6,” GlamGlow?! Really? As a scientist, I definitely don’t approve of “ingredients” like this.

Yet, at the same time, the trademarked compounds in GlamGlow SuperMud Clearing Treatment have real scientific merit when broken down, especially for those with oily or acne-prone skin. For instance:

Acnecidic-6™: Mandelic, Glycolic, Lactic, Azelaic, Pyruvic, and Salicylic Acids

glamglow9Mandelic, glycolic, lactic, azelaic, and pyruvic acid are all potent alpha-hydroxy acids. To summarize:

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid; it is a great exfoliant because it increases cell turnover by softening keratin (a protein found in your skin) and is lipid-soluble, so it able to deeply penetrate your pores (British Journal of DermatologyDermNet NZDr. Brannon, M.D.).

K17-Clay™: Kaolin and Magnesium Aluminum Silicate

GlamGlow Super-Mud Clearing Treatment

Kaolin, a hydrated silicate of aluminum, has been established as an effective adsorbent for hundreds of years.  Kaolin has long been used to treat skin erythema, eczema, and inflammatory skin disorders. Kaolin is a popular ingredient in face masks because of its ability to effectively absorb oil (Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics)Studies have shown it to be non-irritating, so it is gentle enough for sensitive skin (European Kaolin and Plastic Clays Association). In fact, kaolin is so great at binding to oil that it makes me hesitant to recommend this to anyone with dry skin! 

Activated-x Charcoal

For hundreds of years, charcoal has been used in holistic medicine as a deodorant.  This is due to charcoal’s high oxygen content and absorptive properties:  When charcoal comes into contact with decomposing matter, it absorbs malodorous gases within the air and releases oxygen. Ahh, deep breath in!  

In dermatology, charcoal’s high oxygen content is less relevant. Instead, topically applied charcoal “draws out” impurities from the skin.  Limited research in the journal Dermatology suggests that charcoal may also be useful in the treatment of certain skin diseases, including porphyria.  Unfortunately, studies also show charcoal can be very drying for normal-to-dry skin types (Dermatology).

Which is Better: GlamGlow Super Mud Treatment Mask or GlamGlow Youth Mud Tinglexfoliate Treatment? 

GlamGlow Triglexfoliate

I honestly like the GlamGlow SuperMud Clearing Treatment much better than the GlamGlow Youth Mud Triglexfoliate Treatment. The GlamGlow SuperMud Clearing Treatment (white jar) contains ingredients that are excellent for oily and acne-prone skin, including the six aforementioned alpha hydroxy acids, kaolin, charcoal, salicyclic acid, and soothing ingredients like chamomile. (Unless, of course, you’re like me and have a ragweed allergy, in which case you do not find certain forms of chamomile to be relaxing at all. But I digress.)

On the other hand, GlamGlow Youth Mud Triglexfoliate Treatment (black tube) is, well, just like its packaging: dark and mysterious. Yes, you’re still getting the kaolin, antioxidant green tea, and skin-soothing chamomile, but then there are volcanic minerals. These include montmorillonite and pumice from micro-volcanic rock. And while I’m trying to be optimistc, there simply isn’t enough scientific and dermatological research to demonstrate ever choosing “volcanic rocks and minerals” over “alpha hydroxy acids.” (That’s never ever ever, for fellow Taylor Swift fans, never ever ever.)

So I will go ahead and directly sell the GlamGlow SuperMud Clearing Treatment (white jar) for my readers. But the GlamGlow Youth Mud Triglexfoliate Treatment (black tube)? Not going to be in the FutureDerm Shop anytime soon!

Ingredients in Glam Glow Youth Mud Triglexfoliate Treatment: Aqua (Water), Montmorillonite (Volcanic Minerals), Kaolin (French Sea Clay), Magnesium Aluminum Silicate (Purified Clay), Polyethylene, Pumice (Micro Volcanic Rock), Camellia Sinensis Leaf (Green Tea Leaf), Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract (Green Tea), Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract (Chamomile), Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract (Marigold), Cucumis Sativus Fruit Extract (Cucumber), Hedara Helix Extract (Ivy), Symphytum Officinale Leaf Extract (Comfrey Herb), Lavandula Hybrida Oil (Lavender), Glycerin (Vegetable), Parfum, [Benzyl Benzoate, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Linalool], Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone.

Overall Rating: 8/9 – 89%

The GlamGlow SuperMud Clearing Treatment will start out as a mud-like dark grey mask, and will turn a dark green and harden. It is not hard to rinse off. The GlamGlow SuperMud Clearing Treatment is best for those with oily or acne-prone skin; those with dry skin may simply find it to be too drying. For those with oily and acne-prone skin, however, the GlamGlow SuperMud Clearing Treatment can really help to draw out imperfections with regular use over time, and take out oil and sebum that enable P. acnes (the bacteria that causes acne) to survive.  

Ingredients: Water, Kaolin, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Sodium Hydroxide, Eucalyptus Globulus, Mandelic Acid, Charcoal, Parfum [Benzyl Benzoate, Linalool], Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Azelaic Acid, Pyruvic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Maltodextrin, Iron Oxides, Peppermint Oil, Butylene Glycol, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract, Glycerin, Chamoilla Recutita Flower Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Cucumis Sativus Fruit Extract, Hendera Helix Extract, Symphytum Officinale Leaf Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone.

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Reader Question: What To Do When Retinol Makes Me Break Out?

Ask Nicki

I love getting reader questions! This one is from Lithuania.

Dear Nicki,

I’m a big fan of FutureDerm and a long-term Facebook follower. I purchased your FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5 product — three bottles, since I don’t live in the U.S. I was totally eager to try it and get hooked, but I noticed that it really make me break out. I have normal skin and have never had acne or any breakouts in my life. Therefore, I’m a bit confused. Each time it happens, I stop using your cream for two or three days, and my skin gets back to normal. The I try it again, and it happens again. I wonder: can it be a reaction to alcohol in your cream? Maybe it evokes such a reaction? I’d appreciate your opinion on this, as I intend to try your other products, too, plus, I still hope I can use your retinol.

-Vilnius, Lithuania

Dear Vilnius,

Ah, the infamous retinol break out scenario. This is actually called purging, and it is quite common.

Why Purging Occurs

In normal skin, there is natural exfoliation at the hair follicle. As in, your skin produces sebum, but every couple of weeks, your cells turnover, and essentially rid themselves of the debris.

There are two main reasons why people get acne from using retinol.

The first group of people have a condition known as retention hyperkeratosis, where their skin doesn’t turn over cells as quickly as other people’s cells in their age range typically do. This causes a build-up that is actually sticky and gooey at the microscopic level (ewww, I know). People with hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, typically get dry skin and clogged pores due to retention hyperkeratosis. It also increases with age.

The second group of people simply produce too much sebum. This is trigged by many factors, including genetics, stress hormone (cortisol), neuropeptides, and dihydroxytestosterone/testosterone production. The degree to which each plays a role varies from person to person. This is why some people note that they get relief from acne when they cut dairy, and others don’t — dairy contains trace amounts of insulin growth factor-1 and other cytokines that can cause an increase in testosterone. Some people have skin that is sensitive to these hormones; others don’t.

What You Can Do About It

The best course of action to treat retinol-based skin purging is to simply use retinol for 8 weeks. Typically, cell turnover occurs every 21 days in an average, middle-aged, healthy adult. This means 8 weeks will give you a nice run of a full 2 (nearly 3) cell turnover cycles to clear out the vast majority of the sebum and debris in your pores.

The next best course of action is to continue to use retinol in a manner that is appropriate for your skin. Don’t just start using retinol every night! Retinol is strong, even when delivered in a microencapsulated, slow-sustained release formula such as in our FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5. I recommend the following dosages and application schedule:

Lastly, you can spot-treat the acne until it goes away, and continue to use the retinol. The difficulty here is that retinol deactivates benzoyl peroxide and vice versa. Retinol also shouldn’t be used with acids, discounting the other anti-acne powerhouse, salicyclic acid.

So you essentially have two options for treating acne: First, you can treat the acne by day and use FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5 by night. Use a salicyclic acid-based cleanser, like Neutrogena Clean and Clear, and a 10% benzoyl peroxide as an on-the-spot treatment during the day. Continue to use the retinol at night, according to the schedule.

Unagel

Or, you could alternatively use a non-acidic form of salicyclic acid by night together with the retinol. One I have that I like is Unagel, which contains 10% of a non-acidic form of salicyclic acid. It’s compatible with retinoids as a result. When using it with FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5, I apply the Unagel first because it is a thinner, lighter formula than the retinol. There is no need to wait between applying each product. If your skin is dry, follow up with a light oil-free moisturizer of your choice. (In April, we will have our FutureDerm Customizable Moisturizer System back up and running in all of its glory, so I’d be happy to formulate one for you then!)

Bottom Line

Well, Vilnius, I’m so glad that you and so many of our other loyal fans have purchased our FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5! And I thank you for reaching out to me with your questions. The fact that is making you breakout is unfortunately part of the process when you have either tendency for your pores to clog up (retention hyperkeratosis) or too much sebum. The key is to be patient with it — give it at least 8 weeks — and treat the acne, either by using salicyclic acid/benzoyl peroxide by day and the retinol at night, or using a non-acidic salicyclic acid that won’t inactivate the retinol like Unagel. Either way, please stick with the product, and let me know if you ever have any other issues or questions. I’m more than happy to answer.

Love, science, and beauty,
Nicki

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How to Use an Extractor (With Photos!)

How to Use an Extractor

Back in the 2000′s, I remember when some of the girls I knew would go and get their pimples injected at the dermatologist. For something like $75 a pop, the shots of hydrocortisone would take down their pimples within 24-48 hours, which made these injections super popular before events like homecoming, or prom, or when you knew you’d have class with a super hot guy the next day. It was a sizeable expense, but when you had something huge coming up, it was considered well-worth the splurge. (I, for one, did not partake for a myriad of reasons, but some of my friends did.)

Now that I’m an adult and it’s the 2010′s, it seems we’ve grown less dependent on dermatologists for everything from hair removal (see: No! No!) to mild laser treatments (see: Tanda Skin Care Device). Removing blemishes is no exception, with comedone extractors selling at faster rates than ever before.

However, like any treatment originally licensed solely to professionals, extractors have the potential to harm your skin. It is important to abide by very specific rules when using an extractor, especially early on:

Step 2. Cleanse your skin with a gentle cleanser and warm water.

Normally, I’m all in favor of readers with acne using cleansers with acne-fighting ingredients: Go for the salicyclic acid! Go for the glycolic acid! (Just don’t go for benzoyl peroxide as an all-over wash, extractor or no extractor; benzoyl peroxide works in part by causing oxidation within the follicle, and the last thing you want is a pro-oxidant face!)

Furthermore, do NOT cleanse with any oil-based cleansers. While normally I also like these for oily and acne-prone skin (like dissolves like, so oil dissolves oil), it is a terrible idea to have a fine layer of oil over your skin before you open up your pores. You’re just asking to clog them up, potentially to an even higher degree than before!

That said, when it comes to using an extractor, you want for your skin to be clean, but also as intact as possible. For that reason, I recommend using an ultra-gentle cleanser, like our FutureDerm Skin Reborn Cleanser 8.31 ($39, FutureDerm.com/Shop), or CeraVe Gentle Foaming Cleanser ($9.99, Amazon.com), before pulling out the extractor.

Step 3. Gently press down on the top of the blemish with the extractor for 3-5 seconds.

Next, gently press down. The top of whitehead/blackhead, or comedone, should be at the top of your loop.

You will know if you’re pressing too hard if it hurts. Pain means that you’re pressing too hard, and you should stop, or else you could scar your skin. Instead, medium pressure, not pain. This part is an art and not a science, admittedly — different skins have different thickness, sensitivity, and reaction, so you have to do some trial-and-error. Unless, of course, you’re just really lucky and nail it down the first time!

Step 4. Using the same amount of pressure, stroke the extractor downwards, over the blemish.

Think of it like shaving your legs: Keep an even pressure, steady stroke, and always go in one direction. Only with blemish extractors, you should get a plug (ewww) coming out within 3 tries. If you do not, then the comedone is simply not ready to come out. It’s wise to leave it alone, or else you could end up with scarring.

Step 5. Recleanse, rinse with cold water, and apply very gentle products.

After you’ve extracted as many blemishes that will gently come out, it is time to close the pores as best as possible. First, you want to make sure that all of the debris is removed from your face — it’s likely that traces are still in the pores but close to the surface. So give your face a treatment with a gentle cleanser. Second, rinse with cold water. The old wives’ tale is true about cold water closing your pores, though to a small extent: cold water does tighten the pores, though the effect is very slight (Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, 2004).

Next, I’m usually all in favor of the heavy-hitting products: Retinol! Niacinamide! Peptides! But after your skin has gone through the trauma of essentially being pried open and ransacked (that sounds awful, but it’s true), the last thing you want to do in its heightened state of sensitivity is invite even the possibility of irritation. Hence this is the time for your ho-hum basic moisturizers, the kinds without the high concentration of active ingredients. Allow me to recommend our FutureDerm Organic 8 Toner and Moisturizer for these times, which contain antioxidants that are proven in independent peer-reviewed scientific research to be beneficial for the appearance of your skin, but which are also very gentle, with just 8 organic or all-natural ingredients each.

Step 6. Resist the urge to try again for at least a week.

The morning after a good extraction is like the morning after a passionate love affair. (Sorry to say it publicly, Mom, but it’s true!) You’re glowing, you feel beautiful, and the world is all hearts and flowers and rainbows and unicorns. (OK, maybe not that far, but you get the point).

However, just like calling the guy constantly afterwards, you can go too much too soon pretty easily with an extractor. You really have to exert some self-control and ease into it. Let your skin rest and breathe for at least a week before you try again, and that includes those pesky resistant spots on your face where the extractor didn’t work the first time. The reason? Your skin needs time to recover, and if you’re extracting point A on Monday and point B on Tuesday, chances are, you’re going to be really sensitive all over come Wednesday. And the last thing you want is to trade a few blemishes for irritated, red, puffy skin!

Bottom Line

Extractors are great, but be sure to use proper technique. Always follow our six-step procedure: Sanitize, Warm-cleanse, Position, Swipe, Cold-cleanse, and Wait. You can do what I did throughout college and medical school and remember these steps via acronym (SWPSCW): Smart Women Pick Someone Cool and Worthy — or come up with your own catchy phrase!

What did you think of this post? Still have questions? Let us know in Comments!