SKINCARE 101 : ACNE TREATMENTS AND PROBIOTIC SKINCARE
When I was a teenager, we had very few acne treatment options. The most popular among them was the all-to-familiar Clearasil Pads. They were strong as hell and, of course, soaked in salicylic acid and denatured alcohol. They were better than nothing.
Or were they?
I'd be surprised to learn now if there was anything more than salicylic acid and alcohol in the original Clearasil formula — anything that would actually soothe and rebalance acne-prone skin. Not only did those fiery little cotton pads dry out my blemishes, they also stripped my skin of every trace of oil — drying and dehydrating the skin everywhere else on my face along the way.
Fast forward 30+ years and I know that what I was doing back then was causing my skin to overreact and produce more oil, which blocked up my pores with more bacteria, dirt, and grime — leading to more acne. Instead of treating my skin and the underlying condition, I was only prolonging the acne cycle. In fact, a quick look at the ingredient list of the modern version of the presumed best acne treatment of all time, Clearasil Stubborn Acne Control 5-in-1 Daily Pads, and I see nothing much has changed. These couldn't possibly be more aggravating to skin than what I was using in the last century — but they could easily be just as irritating—with a very high level of denatured alcohol in addition to fragrance and even lavender oil!
While on the face of it you could be forgiven for thinking that acne treatments haven’t come very far, they actually have. While millions of people everywhere — from teenagers to acne-sufferers in their 40s — are still making the mistake of over-drying their skin with alcohol, more and more of us are discovering that there are far more effective options. Among the promising new acne treatment options are a number of skincare products and even entire brands with a whole new approach to acne: probiotics.
Over the last year, I’ve been on somewhat of a journey of discovery, seeking to harness the power of probiotics — central to overall health — in my skin care. Each morning, I take probiotic supplements, including one from Nutrition Now called PB-8 that’s purported to contain 14 billion good bacteria in the form of lacto-bacillus and bifidodbacterium species. (Shouldn’t they call it PB-14 BILLION?!) And, I’m obsessed with this popular KeVita fizzy probiotic beverage, the Master Brew Kombucha with Live Probiotics. I can’t get enough of it!
For a solid understanding of the role probiotics are believed to play in skin health, as with all my research in regards to skin and skin care, I must turn to my muse, Paula Begoun, the founder of the groundbreaking skincare brand Paula’s Choice.
Says Paula, “Probiotics include various strains of uniquely helpful bacteria that occur naturally on skin and that can be applied via probiotic skincare products. Probiotics work with prebiotics, carbohydrates that serve as a food source so the probiotics can optimally do their job of protecting and nurturing your skin."
Paula always nails it.
Probiotic skincare for the treatment of acne prone skin is an exciting trend that’s increasingly supported by science. It’s predicated on the premise that the root cause of acne is an imbalance in the skin’s microbiome — the ecosystem of microorganisms on our skin which protects us against germs, disease, infection and, yes, acne. The body’s microbiome is composed of complex communities of bacteria, viruses and fungi that includes 100 trillion microbes, most of which live in our gut. On the skin, any imbalance is manifested when harmful bacteria go unchecked and are allowed to multiply and spread, leading to the formation of acne blemishes.
According to Dr. Whitney Bowe, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, promising studies are establishing evidence that probiotics are a viable option for treating acne and even rosacea. “Preliminary studies of topical probiotics for acne have shown they may help reduce the number of active skin lesions,” says Dr. Bowe. “Probiotics applied to the skin might help acne by forming a protective shield that prevents harmful pimple-causing bacteria from reaching the skin, aggravating the immune system and triggering inflammation.”
Probiotic Skin Care
Skincare brands like Amperna are blazing the trail — moving the treatment of acne from the absurd alcohol attack method to a more holistic approach that uses probiotics to restore balance in skin’s microbiome. Like so many of my best skincare discoveries, I found Amperna thru my Skincarma page. That’s where I met Kiri Yanchenko, the incredibly passionate founder of the Australian probiotic-powered Amperna brand, and a true skincare soul mate.
The Amperna story begins five years ago, when Kiri suddenly began to struggle with adult acne, having had no particular acne issues as a teen. I don’t believe she’s alone, as adult acne is becoming increasingly common and a vexing concern for so many women and men in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Kiri’s case was an acute one, related to specific health issues. She found that the acne treatment products available to her caused her sensitized skin to react even further. To temper her skin’s reactivity, Kiri sought extremely gentle skin care made with powerful actives that would deliver the kind of results she wanted for her acne-prone skin, but without common irritants like sulfates, parabens and fragrance. Knowing what I know about skin care formulas, until very recently that was going to be next to impossible. So she set out to create her own skin care with the help of a knowledgable chemist. Developed with an active probiotic complex at the heart of her formulas, Amperna was born.
I’ve been using the Amperna products now for about six months, regularly reaching for one or more of Kiri’s innovative treatments when I feel my skin is acting up — with visible inflammation, redness or other signs of irritation — about once every two weeks.
The Amperna collection comprises a comprehensive array of products, including a 10% Pro-Resurfacing Lotion with a high-level 10% Glycolic Acid that is now my go-to chemical exfoliator. The Pro+ Vitamin C Hyaluronic Serum often plays stunt double as my morning Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid treatments. Perhaps the most intriguing product in the Amperna line-up is the Probiotic+ DS Soothing Serum. I had nothing like it in my arsenal previously and now slot it into my nightly regimen whenever my skin is irritated. The Amperna Ultra Soothing Gentle Cleanser is one of the mildest cleansers I’ve ever used and is infused with White Willow Bark — rich in a natural salicylic acid that fights acne and is a gentle, natural exfoliant.
IMO, the Amperna Pro+ Vitamin C Hyaluronic Serum and the Probiotic+ DS Soothing Serum are a power pair that every pro-health skincare routine can benefit from, whether your skin is acne-prone or acne-free.
How Amperna Works to Help Your Skin Health
Amperna Pro+ Vitamin C Hyaluronic Serum
The Pro+ Vitamin C Hyaluronic Serum contains Amperna's probiotic complex powered by Lactococcus Ferment Lysate, which Amperna says “acts as a protective layer on the skin [that] helps boost healthy looking skin and helps calm and soothe skin.” The light, milky serum delivers the good bacteria to my skin that I’d been searching for. In addition, Kiri and her chemist infused this incredibly well-formulated treatment with Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), and a multitude of skin-replenishing ceramides. While it’s super hydrating and soothing, the star ingredient has to be complexion perfecter Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate — a stable, water-soluble form of Vitamin C with multiple benefits, including potent antioxidant protection, brightening, and treating uneven skin tone. According to Paula Begoun, research has also shown that this particular form of Vitamin C may also have an effect on acne breakouts. This serum is gold.
Amperna Probiotic+ DS Soothing Serum
For red, rosacea or acne-prone skin, the Probiotic+ DS Soothing Serum is an excellent curative treatment. In addition to Amperna’s signature probiotic complex, it’s formulated with a blend of copper and zinc to help control the kinds of surface bacteria that acne- and rosacea-prone skins have little tolerance for. Like the Vitamin C serum, it contains replenishing ceramides, antioxidants and humectants. This lightweight, milky serum is an ideal way to incorporate skin-soothing and balancing probiotics into your current skincare regimen — and to intelligently take your routine up a notch.
Amperna 10% Pro+ Resurfacing Lotion
And this brings me to the 10% Pro+ Resurfacing Lotion. I have a love-hate relationship with Glycolic Acid. I love the results it delivers; powerful chemical exfoliation you can’t get from many ingredients. But my skin doesn’t tolerate it well, especially at high results-driven levels like 10%. Often, if I’m not super careful, I’ll get a slight rash and tiny red bumps on my face, particularly on my forehead. Amperna’s gentle, lightweight exfoliating treatment is formulated with 10% Glycolic Acid, antioxidants, and the brand’s probiotic complex to help calm redness and improve the skin’s texture. It literally balances out the after-effects of the glycolic. Suddenly, I can use a 10% glycolic treatment with all the benefits and none of the redness.
I heart Amperna for that alone.
But really, the Amperna probiotic treatments are exactly what I’ve been looking for — and are the best probiotic for acne treatment that I’ve come across. Out of her own unfulfilled skincare needs, Kiri created something transformative for the rest of us — a range of powerful, results-driven skin care for sensitive, sensitized, acne-prone, and otherwise reactive skin.
Leave the alcohol acne attack pads in the past where they belong.
Welcome to the future!
**EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT FOR SKINCARMA FOLLOWERS**
Use code SKINCARMA10 to receive 10% off Amperna’s active probiotic skincare! Follow the link below to the Amperna site and use my exclusive code: SKINCARMA10
The Ingredient List of the Amperna Pro+ Vitamin C Hyaluronic Serum:
Aqua, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 II, Ceramide 1, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Lactococcus Ferment Lysate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Sodium-L-Lactate, Sorbitan Stearate, Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Allantoin, Urea, Menthyl Lactate, Sodium Polyacrylate, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, DMDM Hydantoin, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Carbomer, BHT, Xanthan Gum.
The Ingredient List of Probiotic+ DS Soothing Serum:
Aqua, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 II, Ceramide 1, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Lactococcus Ferment Lysate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Sodium-L-Lactate, Sorbitan Stearate, Magnesium aspartate, Zinc gluconate, Copper gluconate, Calcium gluconate, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Allantoin, Urea, Hyaluronic Acid, Menthyl Lactate, Titanium Dioxide, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sodium Polyacrylate, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, DMDM Hydantoin, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum.
The Ingredient List of 10% Pro+ Resurfacing Lotion:
Aqua, Glycolic Acid, Lactococcus Ferment Lysate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Butylene Glycol, Glycerine, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Sodium-L-Lactate, Glycyrrhiza Uralensis (Liquorice) Root Extract, Olive Squalane, Sorbitan Stearate, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Menthyl Lactate, Allantoin, Urea, Magnesium Aluminium Silicate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Titanium Dioxide, Xanthan Gum, DMDM Hydantoin, Sodium Hydroxide, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate.
The Ingredient List for Clearasil Pads:
Active ingredients: Salicylic Acid (2%). Inactive ingredients: Water, Alcohol Denat., Glycerin, Isoceteth-20, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Sodium Hydroxide, Fragrance, Lavandula Stoechas Extract, Helichrysum Italicum Extract, Cistus Monspeliensis Extract, Disodium EDTA.