The Adult Acne Treatment that Moisturizes the Skin

We are often asked if we offer our skin care with sunscreens. We don’t, however the idea of formulating Niora products with sunscreens is an issue we have dedicated a lot of energy to. After all, good sun protection is one of the most significant ways you can inhibit premature aging and preserve the skin’s health. The problem is that there are significant trade-off’s in formulating sunscreens into anti-aging skin care, especially anti-aging skin care as effective and as good as Niora.

To begin with sunscreens, to be effective, must completely cover the skin, creating a uniform chemical coating or barrier that sits on the surface of the skin and that absorbs, scatters or reflects nearly all UVA and UVB radiation. An effective anti-aging skin care needs to do just the opposite, it needs to deeply and quickly penetrate the skin, drawing in nutrients, emollients and humectants, moisturizing but allowing the skin to breathe and absorb moisture.

Consumer testing indicates that about half the time people improperly apply sunscreens and do not receive the SPF protection indicated on the sunscreen label. Either not enough is applied or people fail to adequately rub the sunscreen completely over the surface of the skin. Thus it is critical when formulating sunscreens to not only create a solution or lotion that completely dissolves sunscreen chemicals, but will also readily disperse the sunscreens and form a uniform coating on the skin’s surface without easily washing off or absorbing into the skin. This is a difficult formulation goal: Sunscreen products, especially those with SPF numbers of 15 or higher, are often 20% to 30% by volume of the sunscreen substances themselves, and another 25%-to 50% of of the product are agents used to dissolve them and facilitate dispersal on the skin. It is for this reason that sunscreen lotions or creams with high SPF ratings have a different ‘feel’ than lotions, creams or moisturizers without sunscreens. It is simply that a large percentage of the product consists of ingredients with no anti-aging benefits.

Sunscreens are of course routinely added to anti-aging skin care, but the results are not optimal sun protection and compromise on anti-aging. The first compromise usually made when creating an SPF anti-aging skin care is to use less sunscreen. This is why you rarely see any anti-aging skin care with an SPF greater than 15. However even at SPF 15 a significant amount of the product is still chemical sunscreen that still needs to dissolve in a medium that will spread well and coat the skin. The skin care ingredients that do this are not particular effective anti-aging agents. The typical result is that 50% or more of such a product is not going to provide anti-aging benefits to the skin. Worse, many of the best anti-aging cosmeceuticals and emollients actually interfere with the ability of the sunscreens to provide SPF protection and thus cannot be used at all.

We believe the best solution, although not the most convenient, is use anti-aging skin care and sunscreens as separate products. For example with Niora skin care we recommend using Niora as usual and then apply a sunscreen on top. This is an extra step, but this way you will be using moisturizing anti-aging skin care formulated without compromise, and you can use a higher SPF number sunscreen. We suggest using a spray or liquid sunscreen that contains as little moisturizer as possible, as often lotion or cream based sunscreens are sticky, and can be prone to irritate the skin. Note that the SPF rating only applies to UVB radiation, and that UVA radiation is a major culprit in photoaging of the skin. Look for a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB radiation, ideally one that includes zinc oxide, which provides UVB and some UVA protection and is considered safer than many synthetic sunscreens.

Alpha Clear Adult Acne Treatment, with alpha hydroxy acids, is the first anti-aging acne product to use natural, fruit-derived alpha hydroxy acids to effectively treat acne by moisturizing the skin and improving skin tone and texture.

Acne. For many women beyond their teen years, it’s a four-letter word. And combined with aging skin, chronic acne becomes a catch-22: over-the-counter acne treatments dry out the skin, increasing wrinkles — but moisturizers that combat wrinkling only make acne worse. Enter Alpha Clear®, a natural alpha hydroxy-based anti-aging acne treatment from Niora®.

Developed in 1996, Alpha Clear was the result of 25 years of research with alpha hydroxy acids for the treatment of acne and rosacea. It is the first adult acne care to use natural, fruit-derived alpha hydroxy acids to effectively treat adult acne and the only effective adult acne treatment that actually moisturizes the skin. Traditional over-the-counter acne treatments containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid (beta-hydroxy acid) attempt to sterilize the skin or strip it of protective oils and moisture. Alpha Clear®, on the other hand, softens and moisturizes the skin. “This is counter to conventional medical wisdom, because excess oils and other sebaceous material are what clog pores and lead to acne in the first place,” said George Tindall, founder and president of Niora.

Alpha Clear is a two-step process that cleans, tones and moisturizes, encouraging the skin’s natural ability to heal acne while normalizing moisturization. The skin remains exfoliated after treatment and its texture is improved, with reduced wrinkles and age spots. Alpha Clear can be used safely with treatments prescribed by dermatologists.

In a study of 30 women conducted by Niora, over 90% who used Alpha Clear for twelve weeks experienced improvement in their acne. Significantly, 93% reported increased skin moisturization and improved skin texture as well. In fact, 86% of the women found that Alpha Clear cleansed their skin so well that other products or medications weren’t needed. “It is clear from our results that moisturizing the skin is a major factor in the success of treating acne,” said Tindall. “This new concept turns the treatment of acne on its head.”

For more information about Alpha Clear adult acne treatment call (800) 882-9887

In the last 10 years more studies and literature reviews have emerged that examine the role of alpha hydroxy acids in over-the-counter adult acne products. Alpha hydroxy acids are in wide use in acne treatments, but are far less commonly used in over-the-counter-products than benzoyl peroxide. Although alpha hydroxy acids and benzoyl peroxide are considered effective against most forms of acne, however unlike benzoyl peroxide, alpha hydroxy acids exhibit properties that benefit older skin.

Benzoyl Peroxide is a topical agent against acne-causing bacteria within the oil producing skin pores, or the sebaceous glands (follicles). It is considered safe and relatively effective but to many users it is irritating to the skin. Skin dryness, peeling, stinging or burning are common effects. The skin can become sensitized with frequent use worsening these side effects (Morelli, et al, 1989) . These side effects are particularly troubling for adult women, because these factors can accelerate skin aging.

Alpha hydroxy acids work differently than benzoyl peroxide. Alpha hydroxy acids are not bactericidal but instead tend to reduce the skin conditions that promote bacterial growth. That is, by promoting healthy skin conditions, alpha hydroxy acids make it more difficult for bacteria to grow and create the inflammation that causes acne. They are far less irritating, and tend to enhance the cosmetic appearance of the skin.

Specifically alpha hydroxy acids decrease acne, or adult acne, by two important mechanisms. One of the primary symptoms of acne is hyperkeratinization, or excess production of partially detached cellular tissue, particularly in the follicles or pores. Alpha hydroxy acids not only moderate this hyperkeratinization but also exfoliate this tissue (Van Scott, Yu, 2004). Alpha hydroxy acids thin out, or rather micro-decrease this outer layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, causing stiff, dry skin cells to shed faster and more normally. This exfoliation inhibits the growth of acne-causing bacteria because in part there is less fissured, less partially attached dead tissue to trap oils and harbor bacteria. Newer, more supple actively growing skin is closer to the surface, which in turn increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the outer layers of the skin. The skin is consequently softer and less dry. This exfoliation also levels out tiny creases in the skin which can distort newly emerging tissue into visible fine lines and wrinkles.

Secondly, alpha hydroxy acids stimulate the biosynthesis of collagen and hyaluronic acid (Bernstein et al, 2001). Hyaluronic plays a role in dispersing basal layer melanin, the pigmentation that results in age spots. Collagen underpins skin structure. For the adult acne sufferer this means that use of alpha hydroxy acids can lessen the skin discoloration and the scarring resulting from acne, and firm skin. In other words, anti-acne alpha hydroxy acids fade age spots , enhance skin firmness, and improve overall color and tone.

Alpha hydroxy acids are also humectants, and improve the ability of the skin to absorb moisture (Kneedler et al, 1998). One survey conducted by the National Health and Wellness Club documented that the most significant finding about the use of the alpha hydroxy acid adult acne product, Alpha Clear Acne Treatment was that an improvement in acne was dependent on an increase in skin moisturization.

Research, thus, has documented that the same physiological factors that make alpha hydroxy acids an effective adult acne treatment, are the same mechanisms that make alpha hydroxy acids a desirable skin treatment for aging skin. Because alpha hydroxy acids improve aging skin, they are more likely to used regularly as an adult acne treatment than benzoyl peroxide and this may be an important factor in the effectiveness of alpha hydroxy acids as an adult acne care product.

The development of alpha hydroxy acids as an anti-aging acne treatment offers great potential to provide adult women with more appropriate over-the-counter therapies for adult acne. Combination therapies are being studied, for example alpha hydroxy acids, used in conjunction with Benzoyl peroxide may be useful in alleviating the irritation common with Benzoyl Peroxide (Berson, et al, 1995). As research continues more alternatives will become available that are more appropriate for adult acne.

Morelli R. Lanzarini M. Vincenzi C, et al: Contact dermatitis due to benzoyl peroxide. Contact Dermatitis 20:238-239, 1989

Bernstein EF, Lee J, Brown DB, Yu R, Van Scott E: Glycolic Acid Treatment Increases Type I Collagen mRNA and Hyaluronic Acid Content of Human Skin. Dermatol Surg; 27:429-433, 2001

Van Scott EJ, YU RJ: Alpha-hydroxyacids and Carboxylic acids. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 3, 76-87, 2004

Kneedler JA, Sky SS, Sexton LR: Understanding Alpha Hydroxy Acids. Dermatology Nursing, Vol 10(4), 247-262, 1998

Alpha Clear Adult Acne Treatment, An independent survey by the National Health and Wellness Club, (National Health and Wellness Alpha Clear Acne Treatment Survey), Nov 2000

Berson DS, Shalita AR:The treatment of acne: The role of combination therapies, J. Am Acad Dermatol 32: S31-S41, 1995
Originally published by Niora Naturals

Dermatologists that post-adolescent acne is increasing, particularly in women. The reasons for why their are more women with acne are becoming better understood. It is hoped that this new understanding will lead to more appropriate therapies for adult women. New over the counter treatments are emerging, particularly combination therapies based on alpha hydroxy acids that are more suited for aging skin.

Research shows that up to 14% of adult women aged between 25 and 45 suffer from some form of acne. (Knaggs, et al) Reasons are not fully understood. Use of cosmetics, hormone abnormalities and prescription drug use are often cited as causes. For example the role of the hormone, androgen in adult acne has been extensively studied. Elevated levels of androgen have been correlated with excessive facial sebum, or oil in the facial skin, one of the primary symptoms associated with acne . However researchers find that the majority of adult women who suffer from acne do not have abnormal androgen levels or hormone disorders. Confusing the entire hormone/adult acne connection, is that oral contraceptives or other estrogen therapies effective in controlling androgen levels can be effective in controlling acne.

Researchers also point to increasing levels of stress as the primary cause of periodic breakouts in adult women. Correlations have been found for example between acne and high stress occupations and a correlation between stress and androgen has been documented. (Karrer-Voegeli, et al)

In general Dermatologists report utilizing the same general principles of acne treatment for both adult women and adolescents, but there are differences in adolescent acne and adult acne, that suggest different therapeutic approaches. Researchers see, for example, an increase in facial pore size in adult women. Also oral antibiotics appear to work slower in older women and oral contraceptives to control acne have different contraindications in adolescents than in adult women. Adult women are also less sensitive to the irritating effects of benzoyl peroxide, the active ingredient of most over-the-counter acne treatments. However, Adult women do suffer more from the skin drying effects of benzoyl peroxide. This is particularly difficult situation for adult women with persistent or adult onset acne. They are typically unable to use skin moisturizers to counter these skin-drying effects as moisturizers often aggravate acne.

More nuanced approaches to over-the-counter topical adult acne treatments are needed. A number of studies have pointed to alpha hydroxy acids as therapeutic agents that could be particularly appropriate for older women. (Bowe WP, et al) Alpha hydroxy acids have moisturizing properties and several products have been developed and used successfully, notably the prescription product, Lac-Hydrin, Alpha Clear Acne Treatment by Niora and a variety of products by Murad. These companies pioneered the use of topically applied fruit acids in moisturizers formulated for adults with acne. Alpha hydroxy acids do not have the direct anti-bacterial effect of benzoyl peroxide, but they do micro exfoliant surface tissue and tend to reduce pore size, two factors which indirectly inhibit bacterial growth, and as an anti-aging side benefit tend to improve the appearance and health of the skin.

Because alpha hydroxy acids have both effective anti-acne and anti-aging properties the potential exists to utilize these safe and well known substances in more over-the-counter treatments. Dermatologists continue to research alpha hydroxy acids and the results from more studies are anticipated in the near future.

Post-adolescent acne. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2004 Jun;26(3):129-38. Knaggs HE, Wood EJ, Rizer RL, Mills OH.

Androgen dependence of hirsutism, acne, and alopecia in women: retrospective analysis of 228 patients investigated for hyperandrogenism. Medicine (Baltimore). 2009 Jan;88(1):32-45. Karrer-Voegeli S, Rey F, Reymond MJ, Meuwly JY, Gaillard RC, Gomez F.

Effective Over-The-Counter Acne Treatments. Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2008 Sep;27(3): 170-6 Bowe WP, Shalita AR
originally published by Niora Naturals

Niora’s landmark adult acne product, Alpha Clear Adult Acne Treatment, developed in 1995, has been used successfully by thousands of women suffering from acne who have been unable to benefit from effective anti-aging skin care. Softening the skin and relieving wrinkles with anti-aging moisturizers is becoming a welcome and effective method of treating acne. To date there is a large and growing number of people, especially adult women, who have benefited from new treatments based on alpha hydroxy acids that not only reduce acne but also improve aging skin.

There is connection between anti-aging and acne: One of the primary symptoms of acne is a build up of dead cellular debris on the skin’s surface, which creates micro-fissures, especially in the facial pores, that can harbor acne causing bacteria. Acne results when this dead skin tissue clogs pores and inhibits the normal passage of oils and moisture, causing whiteheads or blackheads and eventually, as a result of bacterial infection, pimples and cysts can develop. As our skin ages, the outer layer of skin thickens, and becomes stiffer, creating these same micro-fissures. Wrinkles result when this less flexible layer creases the underlying growing tissue and it increasingly grows into deeper and more pronounced lines. In other words acne and wrinkling share the same symptomatic skin condition: excessive undetached dead skin tissue building up on the skin’s surface. Alpha hydroxy acids exfoliant, or thin this outer layer, softening the skin and relieving the single condition that both promotes wrinkled skin and acne.

Alpha hydroxy acids, arguably the most effective anti-aging cosmetic ingredient in modern skin care, was originally developed by a dermatologist, Dr Eugene Van Scott, looking for an alternative to benzoyl peroxide, which had just entered the market as an over-the-counter acne treatment.

In the early 1970′s Van Scott was investigating vitamin A as an alternative acne treatment to benzoyl peroxide (Van Scott, 1974, 2004). Benzoyl Peroxide, was developed to treat acne because it is effective in eliminating the bacteria that causes acne. It was however, somewhat irritating to the skin. Vitamin A, it turns out, did have some an intriguing anti-acne effects, but was not an effective anti-bacterial agent, and could be even more irritating to the skin. Dr. Van Scott began working with the Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) because of their chemical similarity to Vitamin A, and because they were less irritating.Van Scott found not only were alpha hydroxy acids effective in relieving acne, but that they were well tolerated by the skin. However, what really caught the everyone’s attention was when it was noted that women in the alpha hydroxy acid acne clinical trails were experiencing a reduction in wrinkling. AHAs quickly became most widely used anti-aging skin care ingredient in cosmetics worldwide.

The problem with benzoyl peroxide, while it is effective in eliminating acne-causing bacteria, is that it dries out the skin, increasing the amount of dead skin tissue on the surface of the skin and within facial pores. However moisturizing is difficult as this in turn can clog pores, trapping sebum and promoting bacterial growth. For most women then using moisturizers just aggravates acne. Alpha Hydroxy acids, however, can reduce the micro-fissures and the layer of dead tissue that harbors acne-causing bacteria, without drying out the skin. The problem with alpha hydroxy acids is that they are only slightly moisturizing and the challenge has been to enhance the moisturizing effect while keeping the skin clean and exfoliated. Several companies have worked to solve this problem and have developed alpha hydroxy acid moisturizers for acne prone skin. Murad and Olay have developed a number of anti-aging acne products with alpha hydroxy acids.

At Niora, we have worked to solve this problem by creating moisturizing cleansers formulated with specially emulsified jojoba oil. Jojoba oil, while intensely moisturizing, is a fine oil with a far smaller molecular weight than sebum, or skin oil, and is excellent for sensitive skin (Scott, 1982). Jojoba, when properly formulated into these moisturizing soap-free cleansers penetrates these heavier skin oils, unclogging pores and dissolving nascent blackheads and whiteheads, which can then be rinsed free, leaving the skin soft and clean. These lighter moisturizing cleansers when blended with alpha hydroxy acids, can also exfoliate the skin and work to prevent excessive tissues from building back up in the pores. Typically these types of exfoliating moisturizing cleansers must be used daily to be effective, but they replace normal moisturizers and cleansers and fit easily into most skin care regimes. This new class of skin care products thus offer the best of both worlds: an effective method to clear adult acne that moisturizes the skin and that reduces wrinkling. Niora’s landmark adult acne product, Alpha Clear Adult Acne Treatment , developed in 1995, has been used successfully by thousands of women suffering from acne who have been unable to benefit from effective anti-aging skin care. Alpha Clear and other new products demonstrate that the best adult acne treatment might well be anti-aging skin care.

Van Scott EJ, Yu RJ; Control of keratinization with alpha-hydroxy acids and related compounds. I. Topical treatment of ichthyotic disorders; Arch Dermatol. 1974 Oct;110(4):586-90.

Scott MJ, Scott MJ jr; Jojoba Oil; J Am Acad Dermatol. 1982 Apr;6(4 Pt 1):545

Van Scott EJ, YU RJ: Alpha-hydroxyacids and Carboxylic acids. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2004 (3)76-87